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Wind turbine foe vows to defeat Liberals

Opponents of wind energy will be out to defeat Liberal candidates in October’s provincial election, vows the head of an anti-wind lobby group.

John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, told a meeting of the Empire Club on Thursday that his members will be “working hard on the ground to defeat the Liberal government.”

Laforet said his group opposes any further wind turbine developments in the province until an independent study is conducted on the health effects of large turbines.

The Ontario government has already suspended all offshore wind projects in the province, and it’s unclear when or how the moratorium may be lifted.

Laforet said he approached the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) in 2009 seeking their support for an independent health study, but was rebuffed.

His response, said Laforet was: “Then we will defeat you.”

“If you want to fight us on the ground around Ontario, we’re more than willing to have that fight,” he recalled telling CanWEA.

“Because that’s a fight we can win, and it’s a fight your members can’t, because you can’t hire enough people to take us on in our own communities.”

His group has been true to its word, and has succeeded in slowing approval for wind projects, Laforet said.

“Wind Concerns Ontario members have stood up and fought members of CanWEA on the ground, in their communities, and we’re going to do the same to their political allies in the Ontario Liberal party when it comes time for us all to vote in October,” he said.

Robert Hornung, president of the CanWEA, said in an interview he recalls meeting Laforet.

But CanWEA and its counterpart in the U.S. had already assembled an expert panel to assess the available information on health effects, Hornung said.

“That panel came back and said there is no evidence of any direct impact on human health from wind turbines,” Hornung said.

But Laforet dismissed studies conducted by industry groups as “shams.”

He said he’s talked to dozens of people living close to turbine who report symptoms ranging from sleep problems to constant ringing in their ears to severe headaches. Some have been forced to move from their homes, he said.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health reviewed the current body of research on the effects of wind turbines earlier this year and found that “the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”

Ontario law now dictates that turbines must be located at least 550 metres distant from any dwelling.

Laforet argued that municipalities should be given a say in drawing up the rules for where turbines are allowed, just as they are allowed to make planning and zoning rules for other industrial facilities.

The province’s Green Energy Act doesn’t allow municipalities to make rules on where turbines can be located.

Kristopher Stevens, executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, who attended the speech, said that if health is a big concern with wind turbines, then it’s best to keep the rules at a provincial level.

“If there are standards that require safety for any industry, they should be province-wide, not piecemeal, and not based on people not liking the view,” he said.