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Worried about windmills

SHANLY – A storm of discontent continues to blow in Edwardsburgh-Cardinal over the subject of wind power.

In the wake of the ongoing controversy swirling around the Shanly area concerning the pending South Branch Wind Farm project, and on the heels of this week’s announcement by Health Canada that it will launch a study into the health effects of turbines, a residents’ group remains concerned about its health and property values should the project or others go ahead.

“When I talk to my membership, the difficulties they have with wind turbines are certainly the health concerns and then property devaluation,” said Bruce Albers, president of the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, which consists of members from Shanly and areas of South Dundas.

Albers says a “significant degree of divisiveness” has also sprung up in the area over the proposed 30-megawatt, 10 to 14-turbine project, which would cover portions of Shanly, South Mountain and Brinston.

Concerns over the potential health effects of wind turbine exposure have mounted in many corners of the province, including other regions of Eastern Ontario such as Wolfe Island, near Kingston, and parts of Prince Edward County, where several projects have been built.

After several years of vocal opposition from anti-turbine groups, Prowind Canada, the company responsible for the South Branch project pulled up stakes and left its Kemptville head office for Hamilton.

Critics have long argued the hum and vibration from the turbines is a cause of headaches and other maladies. In announcing the Health Canada study, to be completed with the participation of Statistics Canada, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq made reference to these concerns.

“This study is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines,” she said this week.

Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark and his Progressive Conservative colleagues have previously called for a moratorium on wind farms. He has also sat in on public meetings on the South Branch project with MPP Jim McDonell of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

With this week’s announcement, Clark said the time is apt for the provincial government to reconsider the request that future wind projects be halted until more is known about their health effects.

“We’ve been very consistent in asking that some health studies be done,” he said. “I think the fact that the federal government is moving ahead on this is, as far as I’m concerned, reason enough to have a moratorium in Ontario right now.”

For his group’s part, Albers said he is frustrated with what he sees as a lack of municipal support for residents’ efforts to have more input.

“Both councils don’t really want to have anything to do with the subject matter,” he said, adding he has received a response from South Dundas, but none from Edwardsburgh-Cardinal. Attempts to reach Edwardsburgh-Cardinal Mayor Bill Sloan for comment were unsuccessful.

– with files from QMI Agency



Several anti-wind turbine groups have popped up in Eastern Ontario over the past few years. They include:

• South Branch Wind Opposition Group

• Beckwith Responsible Wind Action Group

• North Grower Wind Action Group

• Ontario Wind Concerns (an umbrella agency)