SOUTH DUNDAS – Concerns over a proposed industrial-sized wind farm are ramping up.
Leading the charge is a grass-roots organization called the South Branch Wind Opposition Group (WOG).
“Reported cases of negative health effects on humans and livestock, and land depreciation are the primary concerns of our membership,” said a letter to South Dundas Township council, which heard from WOG representative Leslie Disheau last week.
ProWind Canada Inc. wants to erect 10 turbines near Brinston, about 45 kilometres northwest of Cornwall, and four others several kilometres further west near the borders of Leeds-Grenville.
Disheau provided considerable literature to council highlighting the impact the huge wind turbine operation has wrought on residents who live beyond the legislated 550-metre setback.
WOG hopes their presentation will prod South Dundas council to accept one or more of its five recommendations:
• Request the Ministry of Environment to place a moratorium on wind farm construction to first allow an independent study to determine whether there are risks to human health, environment and property values,
• Pass a bylaw requiring that wind farms have emergency personnel and equipment on hand to deal with fires and rescues at 200 feet or higher, plus amend the township’s emergency preparedness plan to deal with flying ice or debris from wind blade disintegration,
• Enact a bylaw restricting nuisance noise and vibration during night hours,
• Hold open forums for all residents before ProWind or any other wind developer receives a building permit,
• Appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal if the wind farm is approved.
WOG claims the turbines are not proven safe, kill large numbers of airborne species, devalue properties not part of the wind farm and do not reduce the cost of electricity to consumers.
WOG then confronted seven ProWind project members at an open house meeting in Spencerville on Monday that attracted about 50 people.
“(ProWind reps) were denying a lot of the information that we brought forward,” Disheau said on Tuesday.
She faulted the Ontario Green Energy Act for allowing wind farm proponents to proceed in an “unfair ball game” against affected residents.
For example, Disheau said ProWind only provided a “mathematical theory” on how ice shards will fly off the turbine blades.
Falling ice is an special concern as there are five school buses which use roads nearby.
WOG wants a “physical” demonstration of how the blade technology works.
ProWind spokesperson Rochelle Rumney said residents will get more answers to question at the next public meeting in January.
However, Rumney disregarded the adverse health concerns.
“(Wind farm neighbours’) health effects are due to stress and reaction to change, not to turbine admitting (factors),” she said.
Rumney said there’s also no correlation between wind farms and declining property values.
South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds declined to evaluate WOG’s recommendations until the township received more information.
However, Byvelds was a bit chagrined that WOG, which formed two months ago, didn’t come forward with concerns substantially earlier.
“These issues could have been dealt with easier within the process instead of having to wait until the last minute,” he said.
The mayor did credit WOG for doing “their homework.”
Byvelds stressed the township has a limited say in ProWind’s development, as most of the regulations are approved by the provincial government.
He said an option such as charging an exorbitant fee for a building permit, which could make a developer cancel the project, needs to be handled cautiously.
Building permit fees are set up to recoup the costs the municipality incurs as part of the application, Byvelds explained.
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