The McGuinty government’s drive to make Ontario a Mecca for green energy has been meeting mounting resistance, including from most of those who gathered at the Orangeville Fairgrounds last week to express their concerns about expansion of wind turbines.
Organized by Wind Concerns Ontario, an organization whose “mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of the people of Ontario from industrial wind turbines.”
The fairgrounds meeting saw guest speakers warn of wind turbines causing health problems and endangering wildlife, while Wind Concerns president John LaForet used the meeting to campaign for the Progressive Conservatives in the Oct. 6 provincial election.
Carmen Krough, a retired pharmacist, said the ill effects turbines have on health are no longer subject to debate. “Now we know that these adverse health effects are real,” she contended.
Pointing to a Swiss study and a report from the Minnesota Department of Health, both of which warned of health effects, Ms. Krough denounced the contrary findings of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).
“The CanWEA scientists conclude there is no evidence of ill effects,” she said. “That is scientifically incorrect.”
In May, 2010, CanWEA and its American counterpart, AmWEA, convened an expert panel to address the subject.
The panel included a research scientist in biological engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and staff physician in pulmonary division of Massachusetts General Hospital Pulmonary Division, the acting medical officer of health for Chatham- Kent, a clinical professor at University of Texas, San Antonio, a British consultant in noise vibration and acoustics, U.K.; David Lipscomb, a PhD in hearing science; as well as an audiology expert and a representative of the Danish Energy Authority.
“There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects,” the panel reported. “The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.”
The panel did acknowledge that “a small minority of those exposed (to wind turbines) report annoyance and stress associated with noise perception,” but said that “annoyance is not a pathological entity.”
Ms. Krough disagreed at the fairgrounds meeting. “Annoyance may sound trivial but, according to the World Health Organization, annoyance is an adverse health effect.” She added that people could be annoyed by sounds that reach 40 decibels.
(In comparison, a normal conversation measures between 60 and 70 dB and a telephone dial tone is 80 dB).
While the Liberal government has established a 550-metre minimum distance a turbine can be from a residence, Ms. Krough said the distance should be no less than 2,000 metres (two kilometres).
The next speaker, Dr. Scott Petrie, expressed his concern for waterfowl on the lower Great Lakes, suggesting the presence of turbines could disrupt their migration patterns.
He said 7 million birds migrate through the area in the spring and nearly 13 million in the fall. “The lower Great Lakes are continentally important and we have a continental obligation to protect them.”
Dr. Petrie pointed out that the problem is not so much about birds being hit and killed by turbine blades. He said the problem is birds deciding to avoid the turbines altogether and, in doing so, throwing their flight patterns out of balance.
He maintained that turbines should be no less than 1,000 metres away from know nesting sites. “They should not be on flight corridors,” continued Dr. Petrie, “and don’t place wind farms in agricultural fields traditionally used by large flocks of waterfowl.”
When Wind Concerns president John LaForet took the microphone, he attacked the Liberal government and urged those present to vote for the Conservatives and local incumbent Sylvia Jones.
Mr. LaForet uttered such phrases as “We have a government that doesn’t listen and doesn’t care” and “I’ve never seen such a shocking abdication of responsibility.”
For her part, Ms. Jones told the crowd that, if elected, the Tories would “return planning authority to the municipalities.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding