CLARINGTON – If industrial wind turbines start turning in Clarington, it’s just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt, predicts Barb King, who runs an equestrian school in Kendal and is concerned that proposed turbines are going to spook the horses and hurt a rider.
“Horses are flight animals. They flee,” said Ms. King. “Would you want to be on a horse when one of these wind turbines start up?”
The Homestead Hills Equestrian Centre, on Jewel Road off Concession 6 in Kendal, specializes in offering lessons for disabled riders and children. Ms. King’s indoor and outdoor rings will overlook turbines planned on either side of Jewel Road. She said horses, with the largest eyes of any land mammal, have incredible sight and they only see out of one eye at a time.
“Anything starting up like that, or light hitting them, they’re going to see everything … They’re going to flee. It’s different to have a rider that’s got a really good base, but to have a kid or a disabled rider on them, it’s not going to go well.”
Zero Emissions People has planned a 20-megawatt, 10-turbine farm in the area, south of Ganaraska Road and north of Concession 6. The company, now co-developing with Sprott Power Corp. to build the project, held its final public meeting at Clarke High School on Jan. 24.
Jeff Jenner, CEO of Sprott Power Corp., said they are trying to have an open dialogue with residents and hear their concerns. The company has moved the substation to be closer to the wind farm, to be “less impactful” for neighbours, according to Mr. Jenner.
Ms. King told the company she wanted to be put on the company’s insurance in case a rider is thrown.
She also breeds critically endangered Newfoundland ponies on her farm. She is concerned the ponies’ fertility will be impacted by the turbines.
The company representatives said there has been little research into the impacts of wind turbines on livestock. The vast majority of wind farms are on farm land, and the representatives said they were not aware of widespread impacts on the animals.
The wind farm plan has been met with considerable opposition from residents in the area.
Durham MPP John O’Toole says a recent peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Noise and Health has linked living close to a wind turbine with ill health, poor sleep, depression and anxiety. Participants living within 1.4 kilometres of an industrial wind turbine reported worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had worse mental health compared to those living farther than 1.4 kilometres away.
Study participants living near turbines were significantly more likely to report an improvement in sleep quality when sleeping away from home.
“There are big concerns. We would ask you to present those studies and reassure the public there is no adverse health impacts,” said Mr. O’Toole.
Scott Penton from Novus Environmental, a consultant for Sprott, answered that the 550-metre setbacks and 40-decibel sound limits would “be without effect” to people’s health. He said the closest wind turbines proposed for Clarington are 700 metres from the nearest home.
“I will tell you categorically there is low frequency noise and vibration sound emitted. Anyone who tells you there isn’t is lying or stupid,” said Mr. Penton. “At 200 metres you can measure it in the home.”
The company pointed to the Ontario’s chief medical officer of health 2010 study which said wind turbines don’t make people sick and a previous environmental review tribunal ruling upholding the approval for wind turbines to be built in Ontario.
Neighbours also raised concerns about their house values. A realtor who lives in the area recommended her neighbours have their property professionally evaluated before the turbines are built.
“Our property is going to half price. Who’s going to pay for that? These guys? That’s what I want to know,” said Ken DiBartolomeo, who said he has not been able to sell his land because the turbines are coming.
Residents were also worried about malfunctions and potential blade throw and ice throw in the winter.
“It’s a mechanical device that could fail … I recently watched the Titanic (movie). I draw some comparisons,” said Heather Rutherford, founder of Clarington Wind Concerns.
The company representatives said this particular turbine design has not had any incidents of blade throw, and there are several automated safety systems in place to turn the turbine off if it begins to ice up.
The company will be submitting the project to the Province at the end of February. The provincial government will then review the documentation and receive questions from the public. The earliest possible groundbreaking will be in 2014, according to Mr. Jenner.
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