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Turbine noise can cause health problems: Erhard

PLYMPTON-WYOMING – Eric Erhard doesn’t like wind power.

“If there was no other source of electricity in the universe, then maybe a wind turbine would be acceptable.”

The professional engineer from Plympton-Wyoming first spoke up against them when Suncor tried to convince his municipality to host an industrial wind farm. Now, he will be one of the objectors when the Ontario government faces off against people opposed to the project February 21.

Erhard argues the wind energy industry isn’t sustainable without government funding. “It’s only sustainable when taxpayers are footing the bill. It’s really a welfare industry.”

And he says it is not environmentally friendly. Erhard says it needs other energy sources to back it up and the construction process for the turbine creates tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, not to mention the harm turbines do to wildlife. “They’re improperly called green; they do significant damage to birds, bats and to the environment in the production of turbines.

But it is the health effects of four wind turbines just outside of Watford which will be under scrutiny at an Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal.

The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group filed the appeal after provincial government approved Green Breeze Energy’s four turbine 10 megawatt project worth about $22 million.

WAG’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, says the main focus of the hearing will be the “numerous indirect health effects associated with wind turbines such as sleep disturbance, vertigo, nausea, headaches.”

Erhard hopes to back the group up with information he’s found from the World Health Organization and studies done for the province of Ontario.

Erhard says a recently released study done for the province says a the placement of wind turbines 450 meters from homes will result in “non trivial numbers of people being highly annoyed” by the low frequency sound.

Erhard says government studies place the turbines at a distance which will “highly annoy” between 6.5 and 8 percent of the people nearby.

“They’re willing to accept that – that’s their standard…that’s okay,” says Erhard. “That to me is not okay …that 1 out of 12 …that’s not acceptable.”

Erhard says while the province argues annoyance is not a disease, a new WHO report links low frequency sound to disease including increases in blood pressure and eventual heart disease.

“That’s the link I’m trying to make …Europe is changing its standards ….so that they get away from problem with noise pollution,” says Erhard. “Why don’t they (the provincial government) do a study of people who are complaining …to see whether or not there is an issue. It’s going to cost some money but we spend a lot of money on health in Ontario.

“It seems ludicrous to me to put these things in and annoy six to eight percent of people.”