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Hamilton causes turbulence for wind power project

Hamilton became the largest municipality last week asking the provincial government to establish a moratorium on industrial wind turbines projects, and restore local decision-making power.

Politicians at their September 28 council meeting approved Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnson’s motion to give municipalities the ability to decide if it wants wind turbines, and slap a moratorium on any future wind turbine projects in the Hamilton area until a comprehensive scientific study can be conducted on the heath effects of the alternative energy projects.

“There is a lot of fear out there,” said Johnson. “There are too many questions.”

Hamilton becomes the 78th and largest Ontario municipality to ask for a moratorium on the industrial wind turbines. Councillors made it a point of asking for the moratorium only within the city’s jurisdiction, rather than across the province, as Johnston had originally proposed.

“It is a concern in a lot of municipalities,” said Dundas councillor Russ Power, the city’s representative on the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

The motion was prompted by a request from Glanbrook residents who are concerned about a proposed $550-million industrial wind farm in west Lincoln. The project by Niagara Region Wind Corp, could see up to 100 wind turbines in West Lincoln, Wainfleet, the Township of Pelham and Haldimand County by 2014. The 230-megawatt project could generate enough electricity to power more than 57,000 homes.

Another wind turbine project, by Vineland Power Generation, which is expected to create nine megawatts of power within West Lincoln, is scheduled to be up and running next year.

Glanbrook and West Lincoln residents have created the West Lincoln and Glanbrook Wind Action Group, (WLWAG) to oppose local industrial wind turbines, and convince municipalities to ask for a moratorium on the projects. WLWAG appeared before Hamilton council last spring, arguing that residents living near existing wind turbines, such as in Shelburne, and Long Point, have developed health problems, including dizziness and nausea.

But Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark pointed out that under the Liberal government’s Green Energy Act, municipalities have no say to decide if an alternative energy project is allowed within their borders.

“We can’t prevent them,” said Clark.

The Progressive Conservatives and Green Party would return municipalities’ decision-making powers over wind and solar projects.

Johnson’s motion asks the provincial government to “restore local planning approval authority, immediately to local governments regarding decision on Industrial Wind Turbines …”