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Wind challenger to speak

Wind turbines no longer threaten Ian Hanna in his own backyard.

He said plans to put wind-powered generators on the island where he lives conflicted with the interests of an airstrip used by the Department of National Defence, which killed the project.

But the Prince Edward County man, who lives on Big Island, in the Bay of Quinte between Belleville and Napanee, has become a high profile opponent of wind energy.

Saturday he’ll explain why at a forum organized by Wind Concerns Meaford at Meaford Hall. He will be one of five people raising doubts about the wisdom of pursuing this form of energy. Speakers start at 3 p.m.

Hanna’s the person, backed by Wind Concerns Ontario, behind the ongoing legal challenge – based on health concerns – to Ontario’s wind turbine setback requirement.

A judges’ panel recently dismissed their 2009 challenge to Ontario’s minimum 550-metre wind turbine tower buffer requirement. The panel said the Ministry of the Environment followed the rules in establishing the setback distance, and objections should be taken up with the provincial Environmental Review Tribunal.

Hanna’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, has announced his intention to seek leave to appeal that decision.

A successful legal challenge would have halted Ontario wind turbine development close to people until independent, epidemiological studies could determine safe setbacks from where people live, the court said earlier in the case.

Hanna said in an interview Wednesday that when the wind towers were proposed on Big Island, he researched them and became concerned.

By the time the project was cancelled, he’d grown more cynical about the health safety, aesthetics and justification for wind power.

He runs a wine import business in Toronto and until a year ago owned a vineyard. He said he’s not a doctor or an engineer but what he’s read concerns him.

“I would say today I’m beyond the point of cynical. I’m at the point that from what that I can determine . . . they don’t make sense in really any way.”

Ontario’s endorsement of wind energy, as part of its green energy initiatives, Hanna called “a horrendously expensive foray into what effectively is a very, very poor generator of electricity and not dependable enough without backup.”

Others speaking and answering questions at the forum:

* Energy consultant and former executive director of Energy Probe Tom Adams focuses on the reliability of our power system and the impact of wind power on the consumer.

* University of Toronto chair of law and economics Michael Trebilcock looks at the effects of Ontario’s renewable energy policy on electricity prices, employment and the environment.

* Environmental and municipal lawyer Eric Gillespie discusses the implications of the Green Energy Act and the legal issues and options that face municipalities.

* Real estate broker Mike McMurray talks about the effect of turbines on real estate values and rural life and reviews studies completed by the wind industry.

Tickets are $5 plus HST and are available online at www.meafordhall.caor by calling 519-538-0463 or 1-877-538- 0463.