Esther Wrightman was organizing a wind turbine protest march to the Strathroy office or Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Maria Van Bommel when she noticed something interesting about the route.
The 550-metre distance from the Kenwick Mall parking lot to Van Bommel’s downtown office is the same distance wind turbines in Ontario can be erected adjacent to homes.
The coincidence led Wrightman to call the April 2 event, The 550m March to your MPP’s Office.
“I hope it catches on and other towns do it too,” she said.
Wind opponents say 550 metres is too close for people living near wind turbines and they want Queen’s Park to place a moratorium on new wind farms and commission a study of their impact on human health.
Wrightman, who lives near the border of Lambton and Middlesex counties, said she’s organizing the march with other riding residents, including some in Lambton where several wind farms are planned.
Lambton is currently home to 10 turbines near Forest and another four are planned to be installed in Brooke-Alvinston Township later this year.
But wind energy companies want to erect more than 500 turbines in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding, Wrightman said.
She’s been spreading the word about the march, which begins at 11 a.m., and said she’s hoping for a strong turnout.
“I’d love to see 100 people,” Wrightman said, but added she’s not sure how many residents are comfortable carrying a protest sign.
“We’ll do it either way,” she add.
“If there’s 10 of us, we’ll do it.”
Ian Hanna, a Prince Edward County man challenging the 550-metre setback in court, is expected to attend, Wrightman said.
“He and his wife said they’ll come down, maybe bring their dogs.”
Hanna’s application for a judicial review of provisions of Ontario’s Green Energy Act was rejected but he has launched an appeal.
Wrightman said she has been told Van Bommel, a Liberal, will speak to the marchers when they reach her office.
“I’d like her to acknowledge to the people that she hasn’t pushed to have a moratorium until there’s health studies done,” Wrightman said.
“I know she will tell us that they’re starting to conduct health study this year, but that will take five years.
“By then, all these 500 turbines will be up.”
Wrightman said wind farms are “an industrial trampling of our countryside,” adding, “It’s got nothing to do with being environmentally green.”
She expects opposition to grow in the riding as residents see work happening on electrical distribution line upgrades needed for large proposals, like the 150-turbine Jericho Wind Energy Centre project in Lambton Shores, to move ahead.
“I think that will wake people up.”
Once the turbines are up, Wrightman said, it’s too late.
“I’ve been to other places where they’re up and it’s such a sad feeling, because what can you do?
“They won’t take them down. They won’t shut them off.”
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