Opponents of a proposed local wind farm hope a new study focusing on the health impacts of wind turbines will be enough to stop the potential development.
That’s what Irene Bond, spokeswoman for Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee, said she hopes the Health Canada study is enough to stop Horizon Wind Inc. from developing its Big Thunder wind farm.
“It’s about time,” Bond said, of the study.
“We keep trying to educate the public as to why this location is the wrong location. It’s not just because of health but a multitude of reasons. It’s on watershed land; it’s where the peregrine falcon lives. I’m not sure if it will be the final nail in the coffin and who knows what that will be but we’ll continue our efforts.”
The two-year study will randomly select 2,000 homes across Canada situated near at least eight to 12 wind turbines. The study will look to see if the low frequency noise caused by the turbines has any ill health effects.
Bond said it’s already well documented that wind turbines have health consequences. This study will examine how severe those consequences are.
She said she’s looking forward to the study going forward because it’s being run by a third-party organization that can look into the issue and avoid biases.
An Ontario- government commissioned study in 2010 also looked at the potential health risks of low frequency noise from wind turbines. That study, which looked at more than 100 papers and reports from Ontario, Alberta, and countries around the world, concluded that there are no direct health risks from the noise.
In Ontario, wind turbines must be at least 550 metres away from homes. The report says this is far enough away that the human ear shouldn’t hear the noise.
NEPC co-chair Mike Payne said they aren’t against wind turbines but they want the truth to come out.
“I think it’s about time that it’s being done,” Payne said. “Everyone was in favour of the Dorion wind farm and now a gentleman who lives five-kilometres away says it’s like living by an airbase. The Ontario government has admitted that there’s no way to do a proper noise model on 20 turbines or a 40 turbines because there’s too many changes in parameters. They have always done it on one turbine and one turbine is not economically feasible to put up.”
He added he looked forward to the results of the study one way or the other.
Anthony Zwig, Chief Executive Officer for Horizon Wind Inc., said in a media release that the results of the study will show the same results as all the other reports.
“There are no ill health effects caused by wind turbines,” Zwig said.
“At the Big Thunder Wind Park, our turbines are double or quadruple the provincially mandated distance of 550 metres from any residences. We don’t expect this study to have any effect on our project. We’re confident that the end result of wind farms like ours will be an improvement in the health of Canadians by reducing greenhouses gases and other pollutants in the atmosphere.”
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