POWASSAN – Wind farm opposition says Health Canada’s wind turbine study is a flop, while turbines continue to be erected.
“The only true way for this study to have any impact whatsoever is for a full moratorium on all industrial wind developments in Ontario until the study is complete and the results are released,” said S.T.O.M.P. (Stop Turbines on Maple Hill Powassan) co-founder Anne Smith. “What we see as a reality is that the Liberals will force through thousands (as many as 6,000 more) of these industrial wind turbines between now and when the health study is completed. They seem not to care what the health and financial costs for Ontario taxpayers will be because they know that they will be out of power before the federal study is published.”
On July 10, 2012, Health Canada announced its intention to conduct research to evaluate the relationship between wind turbine noise and potential affects on human health, which is being carried out in collaboration with Statistics Canada.
Within Almaguin, there are wind projects in the works on Crown land in Laurier Township, just outside of Trout Creek, and on private property on Maple Hill Road in Powassan.
“Many studies have already been done worldwide for decades and the findings are out there for anyone to read,” said Smith. “We believe that another study is only a smokescreen for the various levels of government to hide behind.”
After receiving more than 950 comments during the 60-day public consultation, which began in July 2012, Health Canada has published a revised research design for the study, which now includes an assessment of infrasound – a decision Nipissing MPP and PC Energy Critic Vic Fedeli says is a step in the right direction.
“It is the real cause of problems, so I’m very pleased that Health Canada is including it,” he said, noting the various anti-turbine groups he has spoken with have all indicated low frequency infrasound, which is an indirect effect caused by wind turbines, is affecting their health.
“That’s good news to me that they (Health Canada) are actually listening,” said Fedeli.
The changes to the study design were compiled by an expert committee made up of specialists in areas pertaining to noise measurement, health assessment, clinical medicine and epidemiology.
The expert committee is responsible for completing the study through which a target sample size of 2,000 dwellings will be selected from eight to 12 wind turbine installation facilities in Canada. In addition to taking physical measurements from participants, such as blood pressure, investigators will conduct face-to-face interviews and take noise measurements inside and outside of some homes to validate sound modelling.
According to Health Canada spokesperson Stephane Shank, communities involved and the official start date of the project won’t be announced until the study is complete.
“There will be no premature disclosure of specific details in order to protect the integrity of the study,” he said.
Shank said based on concerns arising during the public consultation period, issues of shadow flicker, warning lights, and perceived impacts on property values are also being addressed in the study.
Study results are anticipated in late 2014.
Although the purpose of posting the summary research design was to obtain feedback from various stakeholders on the design, numerous non-design related comments were received, including those focusing on the consultation approach, calls for moratoriums on wind turbine development, involvement of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), efficiency of wind turbine generated electricity and overall merit of the research.
“All levels of government have known about the health hazards associated with industrial wind for a long time and yet they continue to allow turbines to be constructed,” said Smith. “They are tied into huge multi-billion dollar contracts that were signed without proper due diligence done regarding the health and welfare of the citizens that they allegedly represented; without a democratic process that allows local municipalities to exercise their rights. The blinders are on and they will forge ahead no matter what.”
Fedeli said now that the legislature is back, he plans to bring the call for a moratorium back to the floor, as well as push for the cancellation of the Feed-In-Tariff Program, which provides huge subsidies to green energy projects, and ask for local decision-making power back. Under the Green Energy Act, local municipalities have no say on green energy projects, which are approved directly by the Province through the FIT program.
“The Liberals are very stubborn,” he said. “And sadly, they’re supported by the NDP on this one.”
Fedeli said he does have hope that with the leadership of the new Premier Kathleen Wynne things might change.
“I am hopeful that common sense will prevail,” he said.
The revised research design and a summary of the public comments received during the consultation period and the responses from the expert committee are available on the Health Canada website, www.hc-sc
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