Nearly three years after Chatham-Kent’s acting medical officer of health was requested to provide an opinion on the health effects of wind turbines, he stands by his original findings.
Noting his opinion has made some people angry, Dr. David Colby stated at a hearing of the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal Tuesday in Chatham: “The evidence is just not there that wind turbines harm peoples’ health.”
Colby was one of the witnesses called by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment during Day 14 of hearing a challenge launched by Katie Erickson and Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc., against the approval of the Kent Breeze Wind Farm, the first renewable energy project to be approved under the province’s Green Energy Act.
The project is principally owned by Suncor Energy.
The appellants claim the noise from the Thamesville-area wind farm, still under construction, will result in such ailments as sleeplessness, headaches, stress, inner-ear problems as well as loss of enjoyment of life.
Much of Colby’s testimony involved being taken through two reports he’s published on the health impacts of wind turbines. One was The Health Impact of Wind Turbines: A Review of the Current White, Grey, and Published Literature, presented to Chatham-Kent council in June 2008.
Colby also co-authored the industry-funded study: Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects An Expert Panel Review, prepared for the American and Canadian wind energy associations in 2009.
He told the tribunal those participating in the expert panel review were challenged to find any adverse health effects caused by wind turbines so they could be addressed.
Considerable criticism has been levelled against Colby for his stance on wind turbines with much to do with the fact he participated in an industry-funded report.
“I’m not a wind turbine advocate in any way, shape or form,” he said, adding he simply sought to provide a dispassionate opinion about the health effects.
“I don’t particularly like the looks of them,” Colby said. “If we want to oppose (wind) turbines, we shouldn’t be pretending there are adverse health effects that aren’t there.”
Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the appellants, asked Colby if he was familiar with the definition of “wind turbine syndrome (WTS)” in a book by the same name, written by Dr. Nina Pierpont, which was described for the hearing.
In his earlier testimony, Colby said with the wide-ranging symptoms listed by Pierpont of what constitutes WTS, he could be described as suffering from the condition.
When Gillespie called Colby on this, he asked the tribunal if he would be required to go into detail about his personal medical history. Colby then noted he suffers from anxiety, insomnia, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, which are all alleged to be signs of WTS.
Noting he’s read Pierpont’s book cover-to-cover, Colby was critical of her methodology in creating the diagnosis of WTS.
“It’s actually the worst example of selective bias that I’ve ever seen in any published work,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe WTS exists.
Gillespie produced excerpts of a slide presentation on wind turbines Colby presented to the Nova Scotia Board of Energy last year, to question the contents compared to what Colby said earlier about annoyance with respect to noise from wind turbines.
Colby stated slides serve to remind him of key points he wants to make when delivering a lecture.
“These are not to be interpreted as a scholarly interpretation of what annoying is,” he said.
The hearing continues Wednesday and Thursday in council chambers of the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.
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