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Neighbours of wind turbine sites have many concerns that should be addressed  

Credit:  The Sun Times, www.owensoundsuntimes.com 24 January 2011 ~~

We live on a 100-acre farm, and are close neighbours of Malcolm Hamilton (Wind Turbines Should Not Be Abandoned, The Sun Times Jan. 5).

Not all farmers want to sign a lease to host industrial wind turbines. We did not sign up because we were concerned about the stewardship of the land. We did not want a company telling us what we could or could not do on our land.

The following questions should be asked and adequately answered:

1. Would a farmer have to get permission from the wind company regarding such things as putting up a building or planting trees?

2. If a contract was signed, would it include a confidentiality clause? Signing a confidentiality clause would strain open communication, about turbines, between contract signers and neighbours. This is happening. What is in the contract that you are not supposed to talk about ?

3. If four years have passed and construction on the turbine site has not begun, can a landowner get out of the lease/contract? The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has more information about this.

4. Also, would the wind company have first right of refusal if someone wanted to purchase your farm?

5. If someone wanted to buy a property and a turbine was on that property (or the land was leased for a turbine) would that fact negatively affect the mortgage application, when applying at a bank?

6. Is it true that if someone agrees to host a turbine on their property, the setback from the turbine can be less than 550 metres? Why is this considered to be a safe setback distance when the U.K. has a setback of 1 to 1.5 km?

The Green Energy Act is trying to change the location of building a house on vacant land as you will have no choice in the matter. The bylaws will tell you exactly where the house can be built and it will leave a corridor for turbines to be implemented.

Most neighbors are not OK with industrial wind turbines being close to their homes. They have concerns. A few might support industrial wind turbines if a proper health study proved them to be safe.

If you asked your neighbours the direct question; Do you want wind turbines in your community? yes, no or undecided – the majority would express very real concerns.

Some concerns relate to health and the depreciation/ability to resell. Another strong concern relates to the Green Energy Act (Bill 150). It removes the ability of municipalities to determine for themselves, if they want to allow windpower development. This creates a powerless tier of gove r n m e nt, the one closest to those affected. What right (freedom) will be eliminated next?

Here is a brief snapshot of some nearby-neighbour comments:

Owen O’Neill;

This should be decided locally as they will affect land values in the area.

Joy Pogson;

My concerns are human health , wildlife, property values and noise.

Beth Legge;

My parents’ home is very close to the road. The transmission line is going to seem like it’s in their living room. Are some of the hydro poles going to be 45 to 50 feet tall? Why is underground cabling not used instead of poles?

Gord, Nancy Elliott;

We would support the turbines if a proper health study proved them to be safe. This should involve a third party independent epidiological (involves people presently living near turbines) study.

Buck Darling;

If the turbines go in, we should get a reduction in our taxes. I should have been notified about turbines being put so close to my home before contracts were signed.

Boyd Gibson;

Rural people should have more rights.

Our farming sector is facing significant challenges (new regulations, feed costs and irregularities in the marketplace). But one group of people must not benefit while another suffers. Neighbours see how hard farmers work, yet at the same time they question what impact the turbines will have on their family.

Most Ontarians support the need for safe, economical, reliable renewable energy. If renewable energy is produced close to where it is to be used (eg. cities like Toronto ) that would eliminate the high cost of installing/maintaining an expensive hydro grid. It would also stop the loss or “drop” of electricity as it travels along the extensive hydro lines. How much electricity is lost in this manner? Where does it go? It would hopefully eliminate some of the exorbitant subsidies being paid to international cor-p o rat i o n s. This is our tax money. City rooftop solar panels should be a consideration. The use of urban bio-mass generated electricity (using city garbage) should stop another problem. This would eliminate the cost and carbon footprint of trucks transporting garbage to the outside of the city.

Most people (rural and urban) support green energy, if it is implemented in a sensible manner.

It must be safe, economical and viable for all Ontarians. Municipalities should retain the right to decide for themselves if they want wind development or not. Democratic rights are being challenged.

Our agricultural sector (including small producers) should be better supported by government policy. Turbines are a band-aid solution. Neighbours do continue to have concerns!

Roger and Pat Foster Grey Highlands

Source:  The Sun Times, www.owensoundsuntimes.com 24 January 2011

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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