An anonymous letter received by a handful of local community newspapers has local anti-wind groups condemning its message.
The letter, received by The Huron Expositor, The Clinton News-Record and a number of other local media, gives notice to all farmers and custom farming operators that “any field that has an industrial wind turbine will be subject to having foreign materials placed in the crops which will result in very serious damage to any harvesting equipment.” It is signed, “Regards, Your neighbors.”
“I don’t know where that letter comes from but it absolutely does not come from HEAT (Huron East Against Turbines),” said HEAT representative Gerry Ryan.
Ryan said that while he first interpreted the letter as a warning that oil or other toxic substances might come out of a turbine onto the land, he sees that it could be seen as a threat to anyone who erects an industrial wind turbine, an action he condemns.
“We don’t use those types of scare tactics,” he said, adding that while HEAT has been fighting against a wind farm proposed for the St. Columban area, the group has done so by lobbying local government, holding public meetings and consulting with lawyers.
“We have close to 400 people supporting us and nobody is saying these kinds of things. We attend multi-municipal wind meetings and we haven’t come across these types. We are the neighbours but we don’t make those kinds of threats,” said Ryan.
“Someone who starts making those kinds of threats is subject to legal action,” said Huron East CAO Brad Knight.
The letter is a sign things are heating up, said Bluewater Against Turbines (BAT) representative Dave Griffiths.
Since Next Era removed a Bald Eagle’s nest for their Summerhaven wind project in Haldimand County, feelings have escalated.
Griffiths said he knew people would be outraged by the eagle’s nest being taken down, but had no idea the news of the nest’s removal would travel around the world. The nest, as well as recent discoveries through freedom of information requests by the provincial PCs, has shed new light on what the government knew about the health effects of wind turbines and how far they would go to have them built in Ontario, said Griffiths.
“They said to heck with people and just put them up and pushed them through like it was no big deal. They’re acting like total dictators.”
The letter is just proof that “people are tired of sitting back and having bulldozers rolling over their faces,” said Griffiths adding, the anti-turbine movement has to this point been above board.
“It’s heating up more so than I’d like to see,” he said.
Griffiths added he is worried people are going to go too far and will end up with cuffs on their wrists and spending time in jail.
“People will get their lives screwed up,” he said adding these types of measures will not be tolerated by himself or Bluewater Against Turbines.
“There is no point getting stupid.”
When Griffiths signed on to act as the face of BAT he wanted to give attention to the issue, but he warned if things get out of hand he is going to get on with life elsewhere. But along the way, Griffiths has heard a lot of talk about people taking matters into their own hands.
“That would wreck the whole movement, making us look like idiot radicals when we have spent so much time trying to convince we are not that way.”
After putting in about 40 hours a week trying to gain momentum for the anti-turbine movement, Griffiths said any kind of radical or illegal action would discredit the group.
“This has gone too well to go down hill now,” he said.
The situation described in the letter immediately reminded Central Huron Councillor Burkhard Metzger of a situation in Germany, where landowners that supported the rerouting of a highway had rebar placed inside cornstalks destroying farm equipment.
“Actions and letters like that should not be part of the conversation. There is a line in the sand and that line is way before any kind of threat like that,” he said.
He, like Griffiths, said he feels actions, threats and blackmail only work to discredit their cause because they are instigating criminal actions that are “utterly stupid.”
In every movement, there is a small group that can be more extreme and in the case Metzger saw in Germany, he said people acted out of desperation. Although Central Huron is not facing any immediate turbine projects, he said these actions could be seen throughout Ontario unless the Green Energy Act is repealed.
“There is a deep, deep division in the community over turbines.”
Central Huron Against Turbines representative Pete Middleton said he’s never seen or heard of any kind of threat circulating the area, but also said he’s not surprised to hear about one.
When he first heard about the letter he said, “It sounds like someone is upset with their neighbour.” At first he thought the letter only indicated that the turbine and concrete base is the foreign object the writer is talking about, but also agreed it could be seen as a threat.
Even though the climate in Central Huron is relatively calm because turbine projects haven’t been approved for the municipality, he said anger is brewing.
“The last thing any of us wants is to be perceived as radicals. We have legitimate concerns,” he said. “That’s one thing for sure that would reduce our credibility. There are other groups like our First Nations friends who are OK with civil disobedience, but we have too much to lose to be tied up in court battles or with jail time.”
“As much as we hate what’s happening, we are not about to ruin our lives over this, but at the same time we’re not going to stop either,” said Middleton.
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