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County endorses 1.4 km setbacks for wind turbines

Dufferin County council has endorsed an Amaranth resolution calling for a 1,400- metre separation of “industrial wind turbines” from homes and farms, as well as a shutdown of any now operating within the 1,400 metres.

The Amaranth resolution had been based on the so-called Nissenbaum report, whose authors are identified as Michael A. Nissenbaum of the Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent, Jeffery J. Aramini of Intelligent Health Solutions of Guelph, and Christopher D. Hanning of the University Hospitals of Leicester, U.K.

The report, “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health,” states in part: “This investigation is a stratified crosssectional study involving two sites: Mars Hill and Vinalhaven, Maine, USA.

“A questionnaire was offered to all residents meeting the participant-inclusion criteria and living within 1.5 km of an industrial wind turbine (IWT) and to a random sample of residents, meeting participant inclusion criteria, living 3 to 7 km from an IWT between March and July of 2010.

“The protocol was reviewed and approved by Institutional Review Board Services, of Aurora, Ontario, Canada.”

The results of the study were either used or referenced in a Saskatchewan wind farm case and also in the challenge to the approval of Suncor’s Kent Breeze wind farm near Thamesville in the spring of 2011. It was published by the bi-monthly Noise & Health in its September-October 2012 issue.

In the Kent Breeze case, the Environmental Review Tribunal is quoted as finding “that strong statements about harm that will be caused were preceded by evidence that largely showed that harm may be caused. For example, with respect to the Nissenbaum Study and Dr. Aramini’s application of it, there are enough uncertainties to lead the Tribunal to conclude that no proof of harm is present.”

The tribunal did, however, suggest that more health studies would be warranted.

In the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench case, McKinnon v. Martin no. 122 (Rural Municipality), 2010 SKQB 374 (Can- LII), the judge found a Nissenbaum affidavit to be of no use as Dr. Nissenbaum was biased, that the doctor is not an expert in the field but relied on information from others, and that some of the conclusions were unsubstantiated.

At the county last Thursday, Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver described the highly technical report as “the first scientific one” published. He said numerous Amaranth residents are ill because of the turbines, and described the transformer substation as something of a disaster.

Amaranth had approved zoning for the substation on the Eighth Line prior to the development of Melancthon Phase 1 wind farm. And then it had been the first township to have forced a protracted Ontario Municipal Board hearing into its 23-turbine share of Phase 2.

A Melancthon Township hearing had been resolved quickly. Now Melancthon is facing controversy over development of the 49-turbine Dufferin Wind Power.

Last Thursday, Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill said that “based on information from technical people, we don’t know whether 1.4 km is right or not.” He also indicated that there could be legal implications in taking a stand on the 1.4 figure as the safe distance.

East Garafraxa is opposing a wind farm development that would site some turbines within its boundaries. Mayor Allen Taylor said the council should amend the final sentence of the Amaranth resolution, the reference to shutting down existing wind operations, as it wouldn’t have a chance of succeeding.

In a recorded vote, however, the Amaranth motion was supported 21-8, with only Orangeville Mayor Rob Adams and Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill and Deputy Darren White opposing.

The Melancthon opposition appeared to be on technical and legal advice the township had received.