FERGUS – HOOF Dalton.
That was the message from several hundred people on Oct. 26 as they protested outside the sportsplex here about a wind turbine company holding a public meeting.
And the group wants more than to kick out the premier. HOOF is an acronym standing for Hands Off Our Farmland.
The protesters made sure anyone reporting to Premier McGuinty would notice the rural motif, too. Dozens of horses and riders, led by one portraying Lady Godiva, did a circle around the front entrance to the sportsplex while the OPP managed traffic.
The horses were no accident, either. Wellington County has more horses per capita than any other place in the province, and protesters said they will not be able to stand the strobe effects and shadow flickers of the wind turbines.
A manure spreader with two of the premier’s pictures sinking into the real thing, was also part of the display. Protesters carried signs stating, “What about our health?” and “Not in any back yard,” as well as “Industrial turbines are not green,” and, one of the larger ones “169 wind turbines proposed for Wellington County. The value of your home just got blown away. Thank Dalton McGuinty, MPP John Wilkinson, and the Ontario Liberals.”
Two of the leaders of Oppose Belwood Wind Farms spoke from a stage made of hay bales.
Janet Vallery said, “As citizens of what we thought was a democracy, we feel bewildered and betrayed by our own government, which is maliciously trying to steal our land through the Green Energy Act. We have lost our democratic rights and have become second class citizens, facing the theft of our land through regulation.”
Vallery said the premier was forcing them to demonstrate, and she added the turbines are unnecessary.
“If Dalton continues with his plans, we’ll have 35 to 45% more capacity than we need in four years. Wind power is not good for the energy system or the environment. Yet rural Ontario is expendable under Dalton just so that he can pretend he is ‘green’.” She cited the manure spreader and said the group, HOOF had arranged “a limousine for Dalton.”
Lady Godiva, in a body suit the colour of her hair, was present as the symbol of a time when her namesake protested high taxes for the peasants by riding in the nude through a town to convince her husband taxes had to be reduced.
Organizer James Virgin said there are 4,500 wind turbines proposed for rural Ontario, and 169 are planned for Wellington County. Another 133 wind turbines are already located in Dufferin County, with 72 more proposed.
He stated, “These energy companies are foreign. They are here to put a ruinous blight of wind turbines all over our landscape. Wpd, holding the meeting tonight, is from Germany. These companies are here for only one reason – billions of dollars in subsidies from Dalton – and our hard earned dollars. Dalton is going to drive our electricity bills through the roof.”
“We can’t afford this,” Virgin said. “Our electricity bills are too high now.”
Virgin added there are many studies indicating property values will drop, and a realtor from Shelburne has concluded properties there, surrounded by wind turbines within a 5.5km radius, have selling prices that are $48,000 lower, their days listed on the market are double those of other properties and the number of homes that can’t be sold at all increases to 11%.
Virgin said within 5.5km of the wind farm near Fergus, there are about 800 properties, and that data indicates a total drop in property values of $38-million, and 88 homes will be unsaleable.
He said, “This $38-million is real loss, and will never be recovered. These are our homes. They represent out life savings. Do we want the value of our homes in the hands of multinational energy companies?”
Vallery and Virgin also spoke about harm to wildlife and noted the turbines harm bats, which eat millions of insects that harm crops. Organizers handed the crowd plastic and rubber bats to present to the organizers of the Springwood public meeting held in the community centre.
Virgin said, “Wind doesn’t work and the rest of the world is catching on. Denmark is bailing out after 20 years because of public protests, France is returning to nuclear. Spain is going bankrupt because of their energy policy – for every green job created, two jobs were lost.”
Vallery added, “The energy companies want into Ontario because the rest of the world is catching on and they are losing markets. Ontario is their newest victim and Dalton is behind them proposing a losing technology.”
The group eventually made its way inside the community centre, although there was still a long line outside when the hall reached capacity.
There they surrounded wpd Canada president Ian MacRae and pestered him with questions, often in a loud tone of voice that echoed through the hall.
Stefan Preisenhammer, who lives within 2km of the proposed turbine sites on the 2nd Line, north of Sideroad 20, said he moved out of the city for “country living. Now it is haunting us.”
He said once the four turbines are approved and built, there will be many more that will follow because people living near them will sell or lease their land to get some cash value for their properties, and the turbines will spread constantly.
“If they put up four, they will put up 200,” he predicted.
He said the turbines are built in Germany, so there are no jobs coming from their manufacture.
Preisenhammer, who is from Germany, said the turbines there are not working as expected. He went back and checked. He said most of the wind-generated power is sold to Switzerland at losing prices, the Swiss use it to move water up mountains and generate electricity they can sell back to Germany at high prices when there is a hydro shortage there.
“We are running with our eyes wide open – right into this thing,” he said of the wind turbine project.
He said energy conservation is a far smarter way to ensure Ontario has lots of hydro power. “Those people here are motivated by money.”
It was more than just local people attending the event.
Charlotte McKeough made it to the protest and meeting with a group from Chatham-Kent.
“I don’t believe they should be in anybody’s back yard,” she said, noting the provincial government has forced turbines along the Great Lakes to be over 5.5km away from the shore so as to not spoil people’s views, but only 550 metres away from people’s homes in the countryside.
She said Kent County had opened the door to the wind turbines before anyone realized their impact, and they spread throughout that part of Ontario from there.
She added there is a Charter of Rights and Freedoms case coming to court soon because people are determined to stop them.
As she was speaking, Preisenhammer was demanding of MacRae “Will you guarantee our property values?”
[See a video from the event via You Tube:]
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