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Wind turbines at the border: war or harmony?  

Credit:  Jean-Francois Nadeau | The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 22 May 2012 ~~

“Our philosophy is to create harmony between the natural and built environments”: This is how Encore Redevelopment, the small company from Burlington who is causing big concerns near the Quebec border, defines their philosophy on the opening page of their website. Encore Redevelopment plans to build at least two giant wind turbines in close proximity to the border and the Town of Stanstead, Quebec.

These 425-foot high industrial wind turbines are massive, in fact they stand 125 taller than the Statue of Liberty. They would be located less than 1000 feet from Canadian homes, a world record of proximity!

In an interview published last week by the Orleans County Record, the president of Encore Redevelopment, Mr Chad Farrell, said there are no rules for putting these turbines at a precise distance from homes in Vermont. Is it for this reason that Encore Redevelopment did not consider Canadians at all in the location of this project? Encore Redevelopment is clearly underestimating the consequences of the project for Canadians.

In Quebec, there are rules about minimum setback distances required for building industrial structures of this type. For safety reasons, it should be at least double the distance that Encore Redevelopment will utilize.

Is Quebec the only place to have such standards of proximity? I’m afraid not. In fact, minimum distance setback is of utmost importance in most of the world. In England, the minimum distancing of industrial wind turbines from dwellings is approximately a mile. In France, it would be more than a mile. Most other European countries have similar minimum distancing standards. Why? Because such industrial wind turbines have serious adverse effects on human health for those unfortunate enough to live close by, not to mention the considerable decrease of their properties value. Who would want to take the chance of being struck by a piece of ice projected off a massive blade attached to a wind turbine turning at a rate of a thousand miles an hour?

“You know, there really is no precedent to follow here,” said Mr Chad Farrell to the Orleans County Record. Really ? The logic that applies almost everywhere else would not be a sufficient guideline for a company that is publicly stating that their philosophy is to “create harmony”? So the only state where such serious risks wouldn’t warrant further considerations would be in the green Vermont?

If Vermonters feel secure utilizing such low standards of distancing of wind turbines, maybe they should think about it twice and learn from the experience of others. Why take risks with the health and lives of people if your goal is really to provide “harmony” with new forms of energy? There is plenty of space in America. We simply need to use this space with the health of the people who reside there as the primary concern, furthermore, industrial wind turbines do NOT belong in the midst of rural residential neighborhoods.

Vermonters can do want they want. But as the philosopher John Stuart Mill once said, “the right of someone to project his fist in front of him must stop where the nose of someone else is starting”. The Canadian nose can’t smell such risk for its’ citizens who would be greatly affected by the fist of Encore Redevelopment.

Therefore, a basic question is very important here: where is the harmony in this project? The city of Stanstead, on the Canadian side of the border, voted a motion against the project. The Mayor of Stanstead said he would cut off the water to Stanstead’s American neighbours if the project goes forward. Many Derby citizens and surrounding towns are against the project as well. The town select board of this small Vermont town is divided. Rallies against the project where held by citizens of both sides. Petitions against it have numerous signatures. Prominent specialists of wind energy in Canada spoke against the way Encore has proceeded with the project: dismissing the will, the interest, and the security of the people. Vermont’s Senator, Joe Benning spoke clearly against the project, so did elected representatives of Canada’s House of Commons at the capital in Ottawa, Ontario. Major news medias on both side of the border are now calling this story a diplomatic issue.

Is this all signs of a new type of harmony that we had never experienced before? Sounds pretty much like war to me. Do we need this? Maybe Encore Redevelopment should think again of what type of harmony they are talking about in pushing this project down our throats without any logic.

Jean-Francois Nadeau

Stanstead, Quebec

Source:  Jean-Francois Nadeau | The Orleans Record, orleanscountyrecord.com 22 May 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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