LINDSAY – The Victoria Haliburton Federation of Agriculture says the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s (OFA) call for a halt to industrial wind turbine projects in the province makes sense.
The OFA issued a statement late last week that the wind turbines are creating an “untenable” situation by polarizing rural communities.
“If you get a rent cheque (for a wind turbine), it’s pretty good. If you live next door, it’s not as good,” said Terry Parker, VFHA media relations person, in an interview. He said the OFA’s demand for a moratorium “makes perfect sense to me.”
Parker, a farmer in Oakwood, said he has until now steered clear of the issue because there are no turbines proposed for his area. “I realize how vocal people in Manvers have been.” He noted that there are two very distinct camps in the debate and questioned whether we will live long enough for the science to be proven regarding such issues as the health claims.
However, he said the OFA had valid points, such as questioning the cost of the power generated by wind, that it currently can’t be stored, and that local planning was taken away. “It was time they (the OFA) got off the fence.”
Parker said he is in favour of green energy, but also cheap power. He said the OFA is looking for good government from the province.
“I think it makes sense to step back and look at these things, to get some good rules in place.”
Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble, who has opposed wind turbines coming to the area, sent a statement to media commending the OFA. She suggested turbines cause adverse health effects to those living near them and called minimum 550-metre setbacks from homes inadequate.
A month ago, OFA president Mark Wales wrote to federation members that the OFA remained a strong advocate of green energy and neither specifically supported nor opposed turbines.
He wrote with a very different tone in his online address to members this month. His federation “is calling on the provincial government to suspend the invasion of rural Ontario with industrial wind turbines.”
“When wind developments come to a community neighbours are pitted against neighbours,” he charged.
The OFA’s statement criticized Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government for not giving municipalities a say in where wind turbines are built.
“It is not appropriate to take the decision role entirely outside the hands of municipalities. The use of site plan approval and site plan agreements under the Planning Act would enable agreement on final design and setbacks and provide a framework for the municipality to ensure appropriate treatment of matters such as road access, drainage, and proximity to property boundaries and natural heritage features. A balance between the province’s power requirements and local autonomy regarding land use must be struck.”
Wales was elected president of the OFA in November. In December, he released a statement entitled “We must stand together for green energy” in which he writes: “OFA fully recognizes the controversy of wind turbine developments. We have not advocated for or against their inclusion in our green energy mix but have strongly advocated for measures to ensure, if they are built, that they do no harm.”
He also noted the importance of farm businesses both as consumers of energy and as an opportunity to be energy producers. The OFA’s website provides farmers with a comprehensive document suggesting issues to consider when signing a wind power lease.
According to a press release this week from the federation: “The OFA’s new position statement on industrial wind turbine development addresses a number of concerns of rural Ontarians, including: price paid for wind power; inefficiency of wind power – it can’t be stored for use during peak demand periods; setback issues and induced currents; health and nuisance issues; and removal of municipal input from industrial wind turbine projects.”
The OFA now recommends that the province suspend negotiating new turbine projects until those issues are addressed.
Members responded online with strong, polarized views on whether it was the right step. Wales was congratulated by many. Others wrote that the OFA is acting under the bullying influence of wind opponents.
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