A four-turbine development near here has been approved by the Ministry of the Environment and will move ahead.
The project planned by wpd Canada is bounded by Sideroad 20 (in old West Garafraxa) to the northwest, County Road 16 to the northeast, 2nd Line to the southwest and Sideroad 15 to the southeast. Its proposed connection point is at the Eramosa-Garafraxa Townline and Wellington Road 29.
The turbines will stand 100 metres tall, have 45.2-metre blades and produce 8.2 megawatts of power, capable of providing power to about 1,900 homes.
The project has also been the focus of considerable opposition when the company hosted public meetings in 2011.
Wellington County council voted at its meeting Oct. 25 not to appeal the approval decision.
Janet Vallery of the Oppose Belwood Wind Farm Association (OBWF) said her group is filing an appeal of the ruling and she is personally calling on Environment Minister Jim Bradley and Energy Minister Chris Bentley to revoke the approval.
With the Ontario legislature prorogued, Vallery is not confident the personal appeal will work.
Armed with what the group considers more information about the effects turbines have on human health, Vallery said OBWF is including in its appeal a recent noise study by U.S.-based Dr. Jeff Aramini, president and CEO of Intelligent Health Solutions Inc.
“We conclude that the noise emissions of IWTs disturbed the sleep and caused daytime sleepiness and impaired mental health in residents living within 1.4 km of the two IWT (industrial wind turbine) installations studied,” concludes the study, which was conducted in two communities in Maine.
“Industrial wind turbine noise is a further source of environmental noise, with the potential to harm human health. Current regulations seem to be insufficient to adequately protect the human population living close to IWTs.
“Our research suggests that adverse effects are observed at distances even beyond one kilometre. Further research is needed to determine at what distances risks become negligible, as well as to better estimate the portion of the population suffering from adverse effects at a given distance.”
In its release of the approval the Ministry of the Environment indicated the leave to appeal provisions in a section of the ruling “do not apply.”
However, Vallery is confident the OBWF has the right to appeal under a different section of the ruling. “The mechanism is in place for us to appeal,” she said.
Late last week OBWF issued a news release.
“Three days after the (Dalton) McGuinty Liberals prorogued parliament, they approved a wind turbine project in Belwood,” the release stated. “Now the people in Belwood, with no protection from the ministers of health, environment or energy, will be forced to bear the predicted consequences of living under these massive electricity generators.”
The group is also critical of residential setbacks established by the province.
“The pristine Belwood area has a concentrated population for a rural community, with roughly 100 families living within a two-kilometre radius of this project,” the OBWF release stated.
“The two kilometres for a wind facility is the now generally accepted minimum setback for wind installations to protect human health in many countries. It is also the radius inside which property values are predicted to drop by over 40 per cent. Livestock are also expected to suffer adverse effects within the two-kilometre radius. Still, the Ontario government maintains that its legislated 550-metre setback from wind turbine facilities is safe for every living thing.”
The release points out a Health Canada study on the health impacts of wind turbines on people living nearby is not expected to be concluded until 2015. The OBWF has called on the government to put a turbine moratorium in place until study findings are complete. A similar request has been put forward by the provincial Conservatives.
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott is also critical of the approval for the Belwood wind turbine project.
“Despite the overwhelming opposition of thousands of our residents, concerns expressed by municipal representatives, and repeated calls from me and other PC MPPs for a moratorium on wind farm approvals … the Liberal government went ahead anyway and approved an 8.2 megawatt wind farm project near Belwood,” Arnott said in a press release.
“They waited until the normal house proceedings had been suspended to put the approval on the environmental bill of rights registry website … The approval was posted on Oct. 18, just three days after they’d prorogued the house. Because the house is prorogued, there can be no debate in the legislature on this approval.”
Emails sent to wpd Canada for comment have gone unanswered.
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