A majority of Ontarians now oppose wind energy, said Ian Hanna chair of Wind Concerns Ontario a provincial umbrella organization made up of groups across the province that oppose industrial wind turbines.
“Public opinion all over the province is swinging. I noticed a poll yesterday in one of the major newspapers that showed . . . now 56% of Ontarians surveyed believe that industrial wind is the wrong way to go,” said Hanna while attending a large rally put on by the opponents of wind energy outside the Grey Highlands council chamber on Monday.
“We are now a silent majority and growing,” he added.
Hanna was among the 75 or so people who turned up with signs and placards calling for an end to industrial wind energy. There were too many to fit in the council chambers, so they met outside on the grass.
Almost two years ago Hanna, who is a resident of Prince Edward County, applied to the Divisional Court for a judicial review of some sections of the Green Energy Act. He challenged how close wind turbines could be located to homes. The court ruled against him. In early March his lawyer sought leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Just last week that request was denied.
“So we’re done now in the courts as far as this is concerned but certainly not out here in rural Ontario where it’s still very much an issue and we’re fighting very hard,” Hanna said.
Last week he was speaking at a public rally in Tara. Monday he was in Grey Highlands.
“These are areas of the province that have stood very tall against the wind turbine companies to protect local municipal values and the residents here. We get tremendous amount of energy and strength from watching these groups. I hope Grey Highlands council still feels empowered today to stand up to these wind turbine people,” Hanna said.
He said delay tactics by municipalities which oppose having industrial wind turbines thrust upon them is an important strategy to give time for more people to see the reality of what is happening.
“Sometimes that takes time,” he said.
Hanna said Wind Concerns Ontario not only wants to stop further development of industrial wind energy but members want some of the wind turbines that are causing health problems to neighbours to be decommissioned as soon as possible.
He is encouraged by Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s promise if elected to impose a moratorium on further development of wind energy until epidemiological and economic studies are completed to show whether industrial wind turbines make sense.
Speaking in support of industrial turbines at Monday’s meeting was Jutta Splettstoesser, who raised hogs with her husband Ralph in Kincardine. She disagrees with Hanna and claims that a majority of people, especially in rural communities, support wind energy. But many are fearful to speak out.
“They are being bullied, harassed and threatened,” she said during a presentation to Grey Highlands.
Someone wrote on Concerns Ontario website that she should be tied to a wind turbine blade and spun at highspeed to teach her a lesson.
“They are cowards,” she said.
She said wind energy is an economic buffer for many farmers and the Green Energy Act sets reasonable regulations for the development of the industry. She called on council to show leadership and support the majority of their ratepayers.
“Leadership doesn’t always mean doing what the vocal minority want,” said Splettstoesser, who promotes openness to wind energy development.
She brought a petition in support of wind energy development with her that contained 150 signatures
Splettstoesser said she’s starting to see more signs appearing in support of wind energy.
She says it’s time for voices from both sides to be heard in a tolerant spirit.
“I hear the voices being bullied by Wind Concerns Ontario which is a very well organized, loud minority . . . there is a silent majority in the country in support of wind turbines . . . we’re here to work collaboratively and cooperatively,” Splettstoesser said.