PARKHILL – The fight against industrial wind farms added a new ally Tuesday when a small municipality outside London lent a big hand.
North Middlesex council unanimously demanded the Ontario government halt all planned wind farms until Health Canada completes a study in 2014 examining the link between industrial wind turbines and human health.
It did so without a word of debate – there was little talk needed after Mayor Don Shipway and councilors went door-to-door with concerned residents in the weeks leading up to the vote.
The support was welcomed by Maureen Malone, whose farm south of Parkhill would be just 603 metres away from a turbine planned by NextEra Energy Canada, which wants to put up 48 turbines in North Middlesex and another 38 in neighbouring Adelaide-Metcalfe Township.
“(They) came to my house. They are listeners,” she said of her council.
Residents here say Ontario’s Liberal government had been deaf to concerns about wind turbines that some people fear harm human health – concerns that led Health Canada to commission a study announced last month.
After the study was announced, Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley said the government will continue to promote wind energy and that health concerns are overblown because the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King, has concluded no studies have proven turbines directly cause health problems.
Opponents to wind turbines say the lack of proof is the result of a dearth of studies, something they hope Health Canada will correct.
The lack of scrutiny extends beyond health, said Jody LaPorte of North Middlesex. Laporte is worried the moving shadows of the turbines will affect his epileptic wife, concerns made worse since NextEra has presented conflicting information on how close the nearest turbine will be to his home – a shadow study says 921 m, but a noise study says 699 m.
That the province approved the project shows how little oversight there’s been, he said.
“It’s a mockery,” LaPorte said.
He was among the three dozen protesters who showed up at Tuesday’s council meeting.
NextEra estimates the Bornish wind farm will contribute $121 million in corporate income tax and $8 million in property taxes over its 20-year lifespan. The municipality recently received notification from another energy company, Quebec-based Boralex Inc., that it’s studying the possibility of building a wind farm there too.
A number of rural municipalities have asked for a moratorium on wind turbines, which have exploded in number in Ontario in recent years, fuelled by provincial power generation subsidies as Queen’s Park tries to ramp up green energy production and wind down Ontario’s dirty coal-fired power plants.
The provincial government stripped municipalities of control over wind farm locations with its Green Energy Act.
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