(MANVERS) An Environmental Review Tribunal has dismissed a public appeal of a wind farm proposal in Chatham-Kent, but the Manvers Wind Concerns group is remaining positive.
“We wish this had a different outcome but the tribunal did recognize that industrial wind turbines can cause harm when placed too close to homes,” stated Manvers Wind Concern chairperson, Paul Reid.Â “This is an enormous step forward in the wind debate. It confirms what we have been saying.”
The tribunal was launched following the Renewal Energy Approval (REA) of the Kent Breeze wind project. Hearings were held in February, March and May, in Chatham and Toronto.Â The final decision found that those opposing the project failed to show the project, as approved, will cause serious harm to human health.
However, presented evidence indicated some risks and uncertainties associated with wind turbines that merited further research and the Manvers group hopes that future debate will focus on the most appropriate standards rather than ‘yes or no’ arguments about whether turbines can cause harm.Â
“There’s definitely some problems that nobody thought about, including me,” said Manvers Wind Concerns member, David Marsh. “The decision is good in the fact that the government, or somebody, has agreed this is something that needs a second look.”
The local group is now considering the Chatham-Kent decision in relation to projects proposed for the Bethany and Pontypool areas.
“The debate is now about how close is safe?,” says Mr. Reid. “They [tribunal] have recognized that they can cause harm and called for further research. The Government needs to recognize the risk and call a moratorium until they can prove no harm.”
The proposed projects are located near two schools, a residential area and on the Oak Ridges Moraine.Â Residents have consistently voiced concerns regarding setbacks, noise levels, shadow flicker and the impact on the community’s health and safety, as well as environmental and economic concerns.Â
The companies leading the projects still have to complete the required studies as well as fulfill consultation requirements with the community and municipality before they can file their REA application.Â
At the same time, the group is hoping the Progressive Conservatives, if elected, will honour promises relating to renewable energy projects, including returning authority to municipalities, “which is where it should be in the first place”, noted Mr. Marsh. Changing setbacks – that could see projects in Kawartha delayed or even “mothballed” – has also been identified.