A boisterous busload of area residents is planning to be part of Tuesday’s anti-wind turbine protest in Toronto.
Esther Wrightman, a member of Middlesex-Lambton Wind Concerns, said she expects about 50 people from the two counties and neighbouring Chatham-Kent would board the bus at 8:30 a.m. in Strathroy.
“It’s a feisty group,” Wrightman added.
“I have a feeling we’ll be leading the marches.”
The Middlesex-Lambton group will join Wind Concerns Ontario and others from around the province on a march to the Ontario Feed-in Tariff Forum, a wind industry conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The annual conference is attracting wind developers, manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and government officials.
One issue on its agenda this year is developing grassroots support for wind power. That’s likely to be a hard sell among opponents planning Tuesday’s news conference at Queen’s Park Tuesday, speeches in Simcoe Park, and then a march on the conference centre.
Wrightman said she’s taking a sign with an Orwellian theme that sports a papier mache half-hog, half-human head and the words, Animal Wind Farm.
“We’ll be on the outside and all the pigs at the trough will be inside.”
Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff program provides wind, solar and other renewable energy developers with guaranteed prices for energy sold to the provincial grid, set at levels aimed at encouraging the development of a domestic “green energy” industry.
Anti-wind groups say turbines have a negative impact on rural communities and produce power that costs too much. They also say turbines cause some people to become ill, a claim rejected by the province and the wind industry.
A recent government review of its Feed-in Tariff lowered the payment for future wind projects by about 15%, but Wrightman said a large number of future wind farms had already been given contracts under the old rate.
That includes large wind farms planned for Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores in Lambton County.
Wrightman called the government’s recent actions a “fluff review” that didn’t address the anti-wind group’s concerns about their impact on rural communities.
She said the groups want the wind industry and provincial politicians to know “that we’re watching what’s happening in Toronto,” she said.
The turnout from Middlesex-Lambton is expected to be the highest yet, a sign, she said, that opposition to industrial wind farms is heating up in rural southwestern Ontario.
“It’s hard to lose hope when you’ve got more momentum, more people really interested. Every day, it just gets bigger and stronger.”
Lambton currently has 10 turbines operating north of Forest, with another four coming on line this spring near Watford.
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