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Effects of giant windmills on our land must be carefully considered

Here’s the question: Is it proper for a landowner, in a pristine agricultural setting, to put up a huge industrial project that dramatically devalues his neighbour’s land?

There are many problems associated with industrial wind power in Ontario, with more seemingly arising all the time. These include health concerns, which haven’t been properly examined; the unreliability of turbines as a source of energy; the false economy of the Green Energy Act, paid for with our tax dollars; and the anti-democratic, arbitrary nature of the Act itself, which strips municipalities of planning authority.

But the heart of this issue is this very simple question: Why should your neighbour have the right to build a 300-foot concrete tower within hailing distance of your home, thereby causing your property to lose up to 40% of its value?

A British-owned company, International Power Corporation of Canada, has been planning for three years to build an industrial wind project, with 26 large towers, in the former Sydenham Township between Leith and Annan. The company chose not to advertise that fact, other than to the landowners from whom it purchased wind rights, until a few weeks ago.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful, untouched stretches of agricultural land anywhere in Ontario. It is also a place that many people call home. Earth to Premier Dalton McGuinty: People live here.

Some of the folks now raising their voices, hoping to delay or derail the Silcote Corners project, plan to attend a public meeting tonight, hosted by the company, at the Meaford St. Vincent Community Centre. The meeting runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

Is this to be another gathering where the company tells people how it is and educates them, in perfect legalese, about what’s good for them? Opponents of Silcote Corners are determined that won’t happen this time. But the deck is stacked against them. And the province holds the cards.

McGuinty got himself elected, twice, as a Liberal. In speeches he rarely misses an opportunity to play up his homespun, big-family, average-guy roots. He tells an engaging tale about his grandmother.

When it comes to industrial wind though, McGuinty is no average guy. Indeed he appears to be footsoldier for large, foreign-controlled corporations – whose job is to serve their shareholders, not the people of Ontario.

Do the people of Ontario require that our beautiful countryside be festooned with massive turbines, as has happened in Shelburne and along stretches of the Lake Huron coastline? Is this the only way to meet our energy needs?

Well, no. We have nuclear technology, which already produces two thirds of this province’s electricity. We have gas-fired technology, which isn’t being employed at anything near capacity. And we have small-scale non-conventional sources of power – solar, geo-thermal and yes, wind.

Windmills are not a bad idea. The people of the Netherlands have used them for centuries. It’s the scale of these modern behemoths, and the high-handed way in which they’ve been imposed on communities, that offends.

If the McGuinty government wished to it could have struck partnerships with producers of family-sized windmills, perhaps the height of a barn. Such units could have been made accessible to small landowners through a rebate. Landowners could have put together locally controlled projects to meet their own power needs, selling any excess back to the grid.

Unfortunately, that’s not what the government did. It went big. It is now reaping the consequences.

Meaford council wants a pause in Silcote Corners. Both the MPP and the MP for this area favour a pause. The local medical officer of health wants further examination of health concerns, not just locally but everywhere. And growing numbers of people who live near Silcote Corners, backed by increasingly vocal citizens from all across Ontario, want a pause.

At what point will the government, and the companies start to pay attention to democracy?