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Aspin calls for moratorium on provincial wind energy

POWASSAN – Wind energy opposition is gaining federal input.

“This is no small potatoes. We’re talking about a $1.8-million study,” said Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Jay Aspin in an interview Tuesday following his call for a moratorium on all wind developments until the results of an upcoming Health Canada study into the affects of wind energy can be addressed.

“I’m in favour of the advancement of alternative technologies, but you have to have the right conditions,” said Aspin, founder of the Biomass Innovation Centre at Nipissing University. “What’s happening here in Ontario is a cause for concern. Perhaps we need to put the whole thing on ice until we know more about these devices.”

Currently, there are wind energy projects in the works on private land near Maplehill Road in Powassan and on Crown land in the unorganized Township of Laurier.

Announced by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq last week, the study is being conducted by 25 experts in acoustics, health assessment and medicine, including four international advisors.

“This is an in-depth study. Let’s use this as a good resource and if in fact regulations need to change it will be a setback, but people’s health needs to be paramount,” said Aspin.

The study will include face-to-face interviews with residents in 2,000 dwellings near 12 wind turbine installations. Physical measurements such as blood pressure and heart rate will be taken from the residents, as well hair samples, which will be used to measure the levels of the stress hormone cortisol over the previous 90 days. The residents’ sleep will be monitored for seven consecutive nights to determine sleep disturbances and noise levels both inside and outside of the homes will be assessed.

“I am most concerned for the citizens of Powassan,” said Aspin. “Up until now this was a municipal-provincial issue, but now that the feds are getting into it, I want to make my position known.”

According to Aspin, both sides of the issue are supportive of the study, including The Canadian Wind Energy Association, which represents developers of wind energy products and services, and Wind Concerns Ontario, an anti-turbine advocacy group.

Further study into the health affects was one of the issues highlighted at a public information session held by Stop Turbines on Maple Hill Powassan (S.T.O.M.P.) last month, which was attended by more than 100 concerned citizens.

“We are grateful that the Federal government wants to look out for the well being of Canadians and has taken the initiative to order such a detailed study. Too bad the present Ontario Liberal government is just interested in financial side of the supposed Green Energy program,” said Anne Smith of S.T.O.M.P. in an email. “We completely support Jay Aspin and all the other MPs, MPPs and municipalities that have spoken out for a moratorium to stop this insane rush to plant turbines anywhere they can in rural Ontario to meet McGuinty’s ‘greed energy program.’ Taxpayers will be paying for the associated health, environmental, and financial risks for potential the next 20 years and more.”