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Court battle looms over wind turbines  

Credit:  By WES KELLER, Freelance Reporter, Orangeville Citizen, www.citizen.on.ca 12 August 2010 ~~

Wind Concerns Ontario, a group opposed to all installations of wind turbines, is severely critical of both the Ontario Government and the wind industry generally in a news release supporting the right of a municipal council to oppose windfarm developments.

The news release, describing the industry as “a desperate parasitic industry whose product cannot survive real world levels of regulation,” is Wind Concern’s response to an Arran-Elderslie bylaw prohibiting turbines along with a reported response from the president of Leader Resources Services Corp. that a 115- megawatt project would be going ahead despite the bylaw.

Arran-Elderslie is an amalgamation of Chesley, Paisley and Tara in Bruce County. The bylaw, passed on May 11, calls for “the protection of life, liberty and security of person” under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It contends wind turbines cause serious health effects.

Leader was the developer of the 200-MW Enbridge wind farm just north of Kincardine along the shore of Lake Huron, and is involved in developing several other small and large-scale wind projects in the municipalities of Central Huron, Kincardine, Arran- Elderslie, and Norfolk County.

A recent worldwide study, commissioned by the Canadian and American wind energy associations as an “independent” one, found no scientific evidence in support of claims of adverse health effects. As well, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says in effect there is no scientific basis for claims of health effects.

Under the Green Energy Act, renewable energy developers are supposed to consult with municipalities in advance of planning such as turbine developments. The Act, however, appears to take away the power of municipal councils to rule on such developments.

Recently, Melancthon Council learned of a 401 Energy proposal through the media.

According to the Owen Sound Sun-Times, Leader president Charles Edey told Arran-Elderslie council that “not only is Leader proceeding with the 46- turbine project near Arran Lake, it has also pooled $250,000 among seven other developers and manufacturers” to fight the bylaw “all the way to the Supreme Court.”

It quotes Mr. Edey as saying: “We will build resources, including capital and marketing materials, to challenge this bylaw and any similar bylaws passed in other municipalities, including funds to support any legal challenge as a result of delayed issuance of building permits.”

In its news release, Wind Concerns says it “is proud to stand with the Municipal Council of Arran-Elderslie as it faces legal action from the wind industry for standing up for it’s citizens. “We will stand with the duly elected councils in Ontario’s municipalities against the outright war being declared upon them in the courts and in the legislature by Queen’s Park and their friends in the Industrial Wind lobby,” it says.

“We will support our duly elected municipal representatives as they defend Ontario from an unprecedented attack by this industry and its Liberal friends. Whether the wind industry’s pressure lobby likes it or not, even in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, citizens still have constitutional rights that supersede sweetheart deals made with the provincial government. The action Arran-Eldserslie took demonstrated that and the wind industry’s bizarre legal action will only go to prove it in court,” the release reads in part.

The Sun-Times reported that the bylaw “calls for developers to provide certificates issued by Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources confirming that wind generation facilities being applied for do not cause ill health effects.

“Last month, council imposed a building permit fee of $150 per $1,000 worth of construction for any turbine project.” UK Lords acting on turbine setbacks

At least one member of the British House of Lords is pressing for wind turbine setbacks that could have the effect of prohibiting industrial wind farms in all but the most remote areas of England and Wales.

But the proposed “Wind Turbines (HL) does have a notwithstanding clause whereunder there could be exceptions provided that all residents within the prescribed setbacks agree in writing.

Maureen Anderson, in an email to this paper, expressed her favour for the legislation. “Shame on this Ontario Government for their ignorance and lack of due diligence.” She said there is an area in the U.K. where the turbines are particularly contentious. This legislation, introduced to the upper house in July 2010 and passed first reading, might have the effect of prohibit- ing the turbines or of overcoming some of the opposition.

Oddly, perhaps, despite opposition to turbines in Dufferin, a professional appraiser locally – not speaking for publication – said recently that property values in Melancthon are generally gaining at the same rate as in the rest of the county and, in fact, there are people who want to either buy farms with turbines on them or buy where they have the potential of having one or more wind turbines.

If the House of Lords bill gets past third reading, the setback distances would vary according to height of the generator (turbine) measured from the ground to the highest tip of the rotors.

In an industrial installation, the setbacks would be measured for each turbine individually. The restrictions would not apply to heights of less than 25 metres. But the setback would be 1000 metres if the height is between 25 and 50.

It would increase to 1,500 metres for heights up to 100 metres – and 2,000 metres for those between 100 and 150 metres.

Beyond that, the setback increases to 3,000 metres under the proposed legislation.

Under the exception, if “all owners of all residential which fall within the minimum distance requirement for the proposed wind turbine generator … agree in writing to the construction of the wind turbine generator,” the local authority may approve the planning.

Source:  By WES KELLER, Freelance Reporter, Orangeville Citizen, www.citizen.on.ca 12 August 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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