The lawyer, who represented local appellants in the first Environmental Review Tribunal involving a wind farm, is disputing a study that concludes there are no direct health effects from wind turbines.
Eric Gillespie has sent a 12-page letter to the Minister of Environment, along with Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Minster of Energy, on behalf of Wind Concerns Ontario, stating the study, released in mid-December by the MOE, does not provide full information on industrial wind turbines and health problems.
“If somebody just read the press release that came from the MOE, one might come to the conclusion that there’s no reason to have any concerns about wind turbines,” Gillespie said.
He points to expert testimony and evidence presented during last year’s Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), concerning the Kent Breeze Wind Project near Thamesville, held in Chatham, which says there are direct negative health impacts from the noise created by wind turbines.
Gillespie said the purpose of the letter is to document the fact there are widespread concerns both in peer reviewed published literature, and in the evidence and findings of the ERT.
“The tribunal ruling clearly is having a very widespread impact,” he said. “It was the first recognition by an Ontario government body that industrial wind turbines can, in fact, cause harm to human health.”
When asked if he expected that the MOE’s study would have examined the ERT, Gillespie said it came as a real “surprise” to many people that the MOE didn’t consider the findings of the ERT, “as part of moving forward on this issue.”
Kate Jordan, MOE spokesperson, responded by e-mail that the ERT upheld the ministry’s approval of the wind farm and ruled that the project can operate in a way that is fully protective of human health and the surrounding community.
“The ERT also recognized that Ontario’s approach to setting standards for wind sound limits is consistent with not only the best available science on this issue, but with protective standards set by the World Health Organization,” she said.
Jordan said the ERT ruled in favour of the government’s protective renewable energy framework and the Ontario Superior Court also upheld the sound level and setback regulations Ontario has in place for wind turbines.
The low-frequency noise findings in the study were reviewed and validated by three independent experts in the field, she added.
Jordan said that while the study found the province’s rules to control wind turbines noise are appropriate, it stated Ontario should continue to monitor technical developments and emerging regulatory policies introduced in other countries, with respect to low-frequency noise. She said the ministry is committed to doing this.
Hundreds of turbines are already operating around Ontario, but Gillespie said thousands more planned, adding it’s important to many people to make sure future development respects some of the concerns that have surfaced.
Gillespie acknowledges the harm to human health caused by sounds emitted from wind turbines is “certainly not a universal phenomena,” adding that many people living near don’t have any problems.
Just like seasickness or motion sickness, not everybody is affected, he said.
However, Gillespie said the Australian government is acknowledging that some people do suffer adverse affects from wind turbines.
He said Australia is moving forward with a plan that would see “people who are adversely affected by the turbines having the option to relocate, but at the wind developer’s expense.”
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