It was quiet enough to hear crickets in the cornfield and to make any occasional truck traffic a head-turning event.
Into this, wind companies want to situate a dizzying number of noisy wind turbines even though the health effects on nearby residents is unknown, critics charged Monday.
A provincial and federal Tory politician each called for a halt to building more machines until a Health Canada study is complete in 2014.
“It is, in my mind…just the right thing to do,” said MP Bev Shipley at an intersection near the intended axis of a cluster of 45 NextEra turbines south of Parkhill.
In the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding alone are a planned total of 400 turbines, said MPP Monte McNaughton.
Calling the Green Energy Act a “disaster,” McNaughton said he would “absolutely” ditch turbine planning even if health studies show they are benign. The Green Energy Act, McNaughton said, is “a waste of taxpayer dollars and a trampling of Ontarians’ rights.”
But it all smacked of partisan politicking to Mike Radan, who heads that ridings’s provincial Liberal association.
“(Shipley) himself said we shouldn’t prejudge what the results of the health study will be,” said Radan, a lone dissenting voice at the press conference.
He called the event a “stunt,” more reminiscent of a campaign stop than a reasoned look at the issues.
Radan said the Health Canada report is unlikely to turn up anything new or definitive. “Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has reviewed studies that have already been done and shown there is no health issue.”
But Shipley said the announcement of a study by Health Canada suggests the opposite – that there’s enough concern to warrant a comprehensive look at the noise issue.
Asked why he believes a moratorium is necessary even though federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq neither suggested nor requested it when she announced the health-and-noise study, Shipley said he has listened to local concerns.
“What I’m doing is acting for my constituents.” Shipley said people should call the premier’s office.
He said there’s precedent for a moratorium, as the Ontario Liberals have temporarily halted offshore turbines.
Some people have reported feeling vertigo, headaches, increased stress and high blood pressure from living near turbines.
Health Canada says its study might determine if rural residents might be more sensitive to the constant, low-vibration thrum of nearby machinery than urbanites who are accustomed to ever-present city noise.
Opponents living near the Bornish site and the planned 32-turbine Adelaide site a few kilometres away were buoyed by the support Monday.
“People are starting to realize it’s going to affect their property values, affect their health possibly and it’s an economic disaster,” said turbine opponent Muriel Allingham.
When they’re decommisioned, farm fields will become “an industrial wasteland,” Allingham said.
“I’m going to see 50 of these in my backyard,” said farmer Stan Franjkovic, who said turbines are economically and environmentally irresponsible and it’s time for the province to “graciously accept defeat” rather than have Ontarians paying for them for 40 years and more.
Politicians, activist Harvey Wrightman said, “are using it to some degree as a partisan issue but these guys wouldn’t be pushing the issue if they hadn’t been listening to the overwhelming opposition of the residents.”
He also said local turbine opponents subscribe to a “huge spectrum” of politics and political parties.