The plan to build massive wind turbines in Wainfleet and West Lincoln has not gone over well with many of the people whose lives will be impacted the most – those who will live in the shadows of these giants.
Residents have done their research, attended meetings, held rallies, written letters, staged protests and done everything but go along quietly with the plan.
The turbines, with almost 50 going on land in West Lincoln and another eight planned for Wainfleet, are a long-term deal. It seems each landowner who “hosts” a turbine will be compensated financially reportedly to the tune of about $1 million paid out over the project’s lifespan of 20 years.
But the neighbouring homes may see their value reduced because of the turbines’ presence. Now, this has been widely denied by those behind the projects but this has been the case in areas where turbines are already in place.
Not to mention the potential health issues raised by people already living with wind turbines near their homes.
The impact on the residents’ health is by far the most contentious of all the issues surrounding turbines – and the one upon which there seems to be no agreement.
Both the wind companies and our own provincial government deny there are any direct adverse effects and studies seems to back this – including the 2010 report from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health which found there is “no scientific evidence of a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”
But most opponents aren’t convinced, and they say there is evidence to the contrary.
It appears even Ministry of Environment staff were concerned enough to take measures to protect neighbouring residents of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre near Shelburne, Ont.
This information recently came to light as a result of documents released through a Freedom of Information request from an Orangeville resident.
The documents reveal the government was aware of adverse health effects caused by industrial wind turbines as far back as 2006.
In the released document, ministry officials report “complaints of adverse health effects by area residents are for the most part justified.
“MOE Provincial Officers have attended at several of the complainant’s [sic] residences and have confirmed that despite the noise emissions apparently complying with the applicable standard … that the noise emissions are in fact causing material discomfort to the residents in and around their homes,” reads the document, written by provincial officer Gary Tomlinson.
The documents state that “at least two families have moved out of their homes due to noise impacts” and that the MOE was aware of “at least six cases where the wind developer bought out resident’s [sic] homes to address and silence their ongoing concerns.”
Tomlinson writes, “reasonable people do not leave their homes to sleep elsewhere for frivolous reasons.”
And that may be at the heart of it.
Do we really know enough to move ahead with this “green” agenda?
I’m going to put it out there and say no.
Most of the turbines planned for West Lincoln are almost double the height of the ones in Shelburne, and they are going to be there for a long, long time.
Tim Hudak and his PC government have called for several moratoriums on wind projects. In April 2010, at Queen’s Park, Hudak brought forward a bill to halt industrial wind turbine development. In March 2011, he was joined by West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner and Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs at West Lincoln township hall to renew that call. This past June he was joined by his federal counterpart in the riding, MP Dean Allison, in demanding an immediate moratorium on industrial wind turbine development until a federal health study is complete in 2014. That is not a long time to wait to make sure we get this right.