Essex Council voted Monday to withhold support for the Blue Sky wind farm project support in its application for a contract from the Ontario Power Authority.
IPR-GDF Suez Canada had spent five years developing the 46.8 megawatt FIT project in Essex that would have seen 27 wind turbines erected on low density farmland southwest of town around County Road 8.
The company’s vice-president of strategic affairs, Dave Timm, said following the vote that his next step is “to be determined.”
The project can still move ahead. Wind farm officials have to compete with other projects in the province for an OPA contract. The town’s support would have given the project extra points in the scoring system. But wind farm officials said the selection process is also based on energy needs and capacity in the electricity grid system to carry the power.
Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, Mayor Ron McDermott and Couns. Morley Bowman and Sherry Bondy voted to deny support, while councillors Bill Baker, John Scott and Randy Voakes supported the project.
While there were several residents who spoke against wind farms citing health concerns, several farmers supported the project. Cindy Barnett-Schultz asked council to put the best interest of the town ahead of a corporate request.
“There is an impartial federal study underway to determine the health effects (of wind turbines),” she said. “It makes sense to wait for the results before making a decision.”
In July Health Canada announced it will do a research study in collaboration with Statistics Canada to investigate the relationship between wind turbine noise and health effects. The study should be completed by 2014.
Farmer Murdo McLean said he has three wind turbines on his property and none bother him.
“At no time in the past six years have we felt uncomfortable with our decision,” he said.
Resident Pat Jackson said she lives 1.4 kilometres from a wind turbine and said the noise is terrible when the wind blows from the north. She said it disrupts her sleep.
Colette McLean, an opponent of wind turbines who claimed the OPP tried to intimidate her two years ago, argued that wind turbines are harmful to health. She said she met a man who reported that his daughter was bedridden because of wind turbines in Gosfield.
“Some people are abandoning their homes,” she said. “There are 91 councils who have passed bylaws. Essex County endorsed a (wind turbine) moratorium in March.”
Scott said he’s talked with many residents who live near turbines in Essex and none complained of health problems.
“These are scare tactics to intimidate us to vote against it,” said Scott, who lives in Colchester but not near a turbine. “With any development there are two sides. It’s not black and white. My concern is that we are saying we don’t know if you can create income for your family farm. I have a problem with that.”
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