ALNWICK/HALDIMAND TWP – Sherman Kempton planned to build a retirement home on a parcel of land in rural Alnwick/Haldimand Township.
He pictured nights sitting outside, gazing over the horizon, basking in peace and quiet. His retirement dream soon turned into a nightmare, powered by a proposed wind turbine development.
Two proposed wind park projects – in Grafton and in Centreton – have local residents upset, concerned about their health and the effect such wind parks could have on the value of their homes.
The Grafton wind park plan includes five turbines to be built on The Scots Line, south of Noble Road. Centreton’s wind park includes five turbines to be built on Nelson Road, between Baptist Road and County Road 22 – all turbines 100 metres tall.
“I just want peace and quiet,” said Mr. Kempton, whose land is near the proposed Centreton site. “If this goes through, I won’t build it. If I did, instead of stars and trees, I’d be looking at strobe lights and turbines.”
Mr. Kempton said construction plans are now at a standstill.
“Now I won’t be (building),” he said. “I’ll either be selling the land, if I can, or finding another use for it.”
Tyne Bonebakker lives on Wilson Road, just a hair outside the Ontario’s Green Energy Act’s setback of 550 metres from the Grafton wind park site.
Mr. Bonebakker, who with his wife Joanne is strongly opposed to the project, said even if he wanted to move, he couldn’t.
“Trying to sell is nothing but a pipe dream,” said Mr. Bonebakker, who owns roughly 223 acres in the area. “Nobody will buy next to a proposed wind farm. I don’t have a choice, I have to stay put if these turbines are built.”
In a 2012 report, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation stated, “MPAC’s analysis of sales has indicated that the presence of wind turbines that are either abutting or in proximity to a property has neither a positive nor negative impact on its value.”
Some people living nearby wind turbines have reported symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and sleep disturbance.
However, in 2010, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health conducted a study of adverse health effects associated with wind turbines.
“According to the scientific evidence, there isn’t any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects,” wrote Dr. Arlene King in the report.
Currently, Health Canada is conducting its own health study on wind turbines, but it’s not due out until 2014.
Dr. King’s report also stated the sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct adverse health effects, although it may annoy some people.
She said the setback is intended to ensure noise levels do not exceed 40 decibels at the nearest home – equivalent to the noise level experienced in a quiet office or library.
M.K. Ince and Associates Ltd. held an informational open house for the proposed Grafton wind farm project at the Alnwick Civic Centre on Jan. 9. A team of security guards was hired to monitor the open house and residents were asked to sign in before entering. A sign outside of the open house informed residents the open house was being videotaped and residents should leave if they were not comfortable being filmed.
At the open house, Northumberland Quinte West MP Rob Milligan said he has received an “overwhelming number of e-mails from constituents” regarding the proposed wind parks.
Like some of his constituents, “I too am overwhelmingly opposed to the project,” Mr. Milligan said.
He said Ontario’s Green Energy Act took control for the projects out of the hands of municipalities.
“It’s very clear the Green Energy Act is a flawed policy,” Mr. Milligan said. “Why do we have local elected officials not having any say at all?”
Anlwick/Haldimand Township mayor Dalton McDonald confirmed Clean Breeze does not need Township approval to build the proposed wind parks.
“That’s my understanding,” Mayor McDonald said. “It’s a no-win situation. (The turbines) are big and there will be some impact on the people who live close by.”
Mayor McDonald said Clean Breeze has agreed to attend a meeting hosted by the Township in April.
In May 2012, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority passed a motion seeking a moratorium on industrial wind power plants on the Oak Ridges Moraine. The GRCA is demanding full environmental assessments be done for all proposed wind parks.
Currently under the Green Energy Act, on-site assessments are not required.
— with files from Jennifer O’Meara
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