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Rally unites opposition to wind turbines on both sides of the border

DERBY LINE – About 70 people gathered outside the historic Haskell Free Library and Opera House on Sunday to voice their opposition to a proposal to erect two wind turbines on farms in Derby. At the core of the dissent was the failure to notify abutting landowners in Stanstead, Quebec.

“We are opposed to the Encore Redevelopment project,” Stanstead Mayor Philippe Dutil said in his opening address. “We also want to make clear that this will have an effect on our community.”

Many homes in Stanstead would be closer to the wind turbines than homes on the American side would be. In some cases, houses would be as close as 500 feet to the turbines, Mark Duchamp said. Mr. Duchamp, who is from Spain and is co-founder of European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW), was invited to speak at the rally. He was vacationing in Quebec and accepted the invitation to address the assembly.

“Nowhere else in the world do wind towers exist so close to homes,” he said.

In Denmark, the minimum distance allowed for erecting wind turbines is a distance equal to four times the height of the structures, Mr. Duchamp said. Allowing the turbines to be built so close to homes is a clear failure of governments to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, he said.

Dr. Robert McMurtry addressed the group via Skype. Mr. McMurtry, of Ontario, was critical of government supported studies that denounce the existence of “wind turbine syndrome.” In particular he was critical of the 2010 report issued by the chief medical officer of health of Ontario.

“Annoyance was strongly correlated with individual perceptions of wind turbines,” the report said. “Negative attitudes, such as an aversion to the visual impacts of wind turbines on the landscape, were associated with increased annoyance, while positive attitudes, such as direct economic benefit from wind turbines, were associated with decreased annoyance.”

Such statements imply the complicity of governments in the promotion of wind turbine development in North America and elsewhere, Mr. McMurtry said. If they judged cigarettes by the same standard as wind turbines, they would tell us it is okay to smoke, he said.

“Adverse health effects do exist,” Mr. McMurtry said. “There are people being damaged. The issue has not been dealt with responsibly by governments.”

Jean Rousseau, the member of Parliament for Compton-Stanstead, pledged to raise the issue in Ottawa. The close proximity of Canadian homes to the proposed sites exposes those citizens to potential harm, he said.

“We want to have a better planet but we can’t just do it anywhere,” Mr. Rousseau said.

“The community of Derby Line and Stanstead does not want this project,” said Pierre Reid, a member of the Quebec National Assembly. “I am inviting Mr. Farrell to take this project elsewhere.”

Chad Farrell is the principal behind Encore Redevelopment.

Of particular concern to Stanstead resident Jean Francois Nadeau is the danger posed by ice throw.

“I’m no expert in physics, but even I know that when a block of ice falls 150 meters it will hurt like hell,” Mr. Nadeau said.

Daria MonDesire, a Derby Line resident, said the wind industry is terrorizing local communities by subjecting them to wind turbines.

“There is nothing green about destroying the planet in order to save it,” Ms. MonDesire said.

Senator Joe Benning, who represents the Orange-Caledonia district, said Governor Peter Shumlin’s administration has targeted the Northeast Kingdom for an unwanted and unwelcome investment in wind energy.

“What it is, is a place under attack by people who seek to make a quick buck,” Senator Benning said. “We need to educate, not alienate, those who are in power. Eventually, they will understand that you do not rape a ridgeline to make power that is intermittent.”

Permitting the wind turbines to go up in Derby would only be the first step in an inevitable proliferation of towers, Mr. Duchamp said.

“It is very easy once there are three to have many more,” he said. “It starts with three and then there are 30, then there are 60. When the resistance of the people is broken they install more.”

The effects will only worsen as the number of towers grow, Mr. Duchamp said. Home values will decline until properties become un-sellable, and residents will be condemned to live beneath the towers, he said.