WOODSTOCK – A pair of public meetings has done little to ease the concerns of citizens who oppose Prowind’s plans for wind turbine development in the region.
The two public consultations, held Tuesday at the Oxford Centre Hall in Oxford Centre and Wednesday at the Quality Hotel & Suites in Woodstock, are part of the approval process for the proposed Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm project in Norwich Township.
Each meeting was attended by roughly 40 members of the public, with citizens taking the opportunity to call attention to a number of issues surrounding the project, particularly concerns over adverse health effects and a reduction in property values.
Prowind staffers were on hand to speak to these concerns, and the company brought in environmental scientist Dr. Loren Knopper to specifically address worries over potential health issues.
Knopper is an employee of Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, a company that conducts human health and ecological risk assessments, and cited a number of American studies supporting Prowind’s claim that, appropriately placed, wind turbines will not result in health problems.
“Overall, the findings of those government agency reports, many of them (show) that when wind turbines are placed properly, there will be no direct, adverse health effects related to the wind turbines,” Knopper said.
Joan Morris, on the board of directors of the East Oxford Community Alliance, remained unconvinced.
“What I’ve found is that they haven’t included any of the peer-reviewed articles that show that there are adverse health effects,” said Morris. “They seem to hand pick their (studies).”
A Health Canada study has been undertaken to look at the potential health effects of wind turbines, but the results of the study will not be release until some time in 2014, and the deadline imposed by their Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contract means that Prowind is unable to wait for the results of the study before moving ahead with the proposed Gunn’s Hill development.
Juliano Matias, a 38-year-old resident of Norwich Township whose house is about 700 metres from a proposed wind turbine, had doubts about whether his concerns would be heard.
“I don’t think I really have a say in the matter. And I’m not against the idea of green energy … but there’s so much land in Canada. Why put a turbine in my backyard?”
Prowind project co-ordinator Juan Anderson defended the process, citing the fact that the company has already decided to use a different model of wind turbine that will create less noise.
“Can you address everyone’s comments to there full satisfaction? Probably not. Not for any type of development,” said Anderson. “There are people in the community that would rather us not be here. At the same time we’ve moved to minimize the impact of the project.”