With a packed council chambers backing The Alliance for the Protection of Northumberland Hills’s presentation against two industrial wind turbine farms near Grafton and Centreton on the Oak Ridges Moraine, Alnwick/Haldimand Township councillors concurred during last week’s meeting.
In addition, councillors agreed to recommendations from the group that would halt further wind developments until health and safety issues are adequately addressed through study and regulation and will forward the resolution about a moratorium to all the municipalities in the Oak Ridges Moraine area, as well as to the government ministries involved in Green Energy Act approvals, plus a few other ministries.
“Council passed the resolution as presented,” said Deputy Mayor Ray Benns who chaired the meeting.
In part, it stated: “To place an immediate moratorium on approvals of industrial wind farms until such time as low frequency noise and infrasound from industrial wind turbines is reviewed and mitigated through the REA approval process and based on conclusive and independent clinical health studies that eliminate the potential of adverse impacts to health, safety and well being of the public.”
Mayor Dalton Mcdonald previously declared he had a conflict of interest due to the fact that he rents land near one of the wind projects and lives close to the other end of the project. The remaining five councillors supported the resolution and Benns, as chair, did not vote.
“I have to stay neutral,” he said.
With the mayor’s conflict of interest, Benns said he anticipated chairing more meetings in the future.
“The key issue here is the well being of people, the aesthetic beauty of the Moraine and Northumberland County,” Alliance presenter Tyne Bonebakker said in a subsequent interview.
“I see a rapid shift in public opinion,” he added.
People generally have supported green energy but as health issues related to industrial wind turbines are brought to light there has been a turnaround, he said.
Among the health concerns Bonebakker outlined in the presentation to Alnwick / Haldimand councillors was the emission of inaudible ultra-low frequency sound of one to 44 Hz which are not required to be measured under current regulations in determining the setback of wind turbines from residences, yet some produce 90dB at low frequencies of one to five Hz which have resulted in health complaints so serious some people have abandoned their homes. (The current Green Energy Act requirements are that sound volume must be less than 40 dB at 550 metres from the nearest turbine.)
Bonebakker also outlined possible future costs taxpayers would be left paying including emergency response to structure fires, plus decommission and rehabilitating the land after the 20-year energy-production contracts expire.
With relation to the Grafton-area proposal by Clean Breeze and the Zero Emissions People, it was pointed out that proposed Tower #2 is surrounded by wetlands and that the site is the location of rare species like Canada warblers and an amphibian breeding habitat, creating the “potential risk for ongoing negative environmental effects.”
And as it relates to Centreton, the group’s concerns range from part being a provincially designated significant wetland, turtle wintering area and bat maternity colony, to containing a “vulnerable high aquifer” and headwater of Baltimore Creek.
As it relates to the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Alliance’s presentation cited regulations of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act 2011 which states that industrial development is not permitted and there has been no demonstration that there is not an alternative location.
“This is a violation of our sacred trust to preserve the Oak Ridges Moraine,” the presentation states.
Locally, “250 local residents may end up living inside a government-declared health danger zone…. This project is an outrageous attack on the well being of the people, the environment and the aesthetic beauty of Northumberland County and the Oak Ridges Moraine.”
Two final public meetings will be held by Clean Breeze and Zero Emission People on the wind projects. The first will be April 18 in the Alnwick Civic Centre in Roseneath, dealing with the Grafton-area project. The other will be May 1 at the Grafton Municipal Centre, dealing with the Centreton proposal. They both start at 7 p.m.
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