Clarington an unwilling host to wind power; Council sends message to the Province over two planned wind farms
CLARINGTON – Last-minute presentations by a wind farm developer and a doctor convinced there are no ill health effects from properly-sited turbines were not enough to tip the scales against a council chamber packed with residents opposed to the farms.
Clarington is officially an unwilling host to wind energy, after council passed the declaration at its Monday, May 13 meeting.
In her first throne speech, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Ontario could benefit from industrial wind farms only if there were willing hosts for the turbines. Shortly after, several communities passed resolutions to declare themselves “unwilling hosts” of wind farms.
Heather Rutherford, from Clarington Wind Concerns, asked Clarington council to do the same.
“We are hoping that the Premier of the province will take our concerns, and the concerns of other communities, into serious consideration when they make their decision,” said Ms. Rutherford. “We’re hoping that by passing this resolution tonight, it will send a clear message to Premier Wynne that Clarington does have some serious concerns about this project.”
Concerned residents have been vocally opposed to the two industrial wind farms planned for east Clarington.
Representatives from Sprott Power Corp., co-developing with Zero Emissions People, said the 20-megawatt, 10-turbine farm would have no “widespread” impact on property values. They said in the earlier stages of a wind farm, there has been some evidence of a drop in home values, but values do tend to rebound.
“They’re not saying there is no specific impacts on any house,” said David Eva. “But when the issue is studied broadly, the impact of wind farms on a community, these studies are not finding statistically significant impacts.”
Dr. Loren Knopper, a senior scientist with Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, told council that at the setbacks and noise restrictions proposed for the wind turbines in Clarington, people will not get sick. He said the change in environment and annoyance factors are a big part of why some residents report a range of symptoms – from sleep disturbances to ringing in the ears.
From reviewing studies done on the issue, Dr. Knopper said at the regulated noise limit, 40 decibels, the noise from the wind turbines has not been shown to cause health effects. He added many of the symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” are common health complaints among many Canadians.
“I don’t discount it at all … I think stress, the subjective worry of it, can definitely lead to problems,” said Mr. Knopper.
Council members argued that if a resident was made sick, it hardly mattered whether it was noise or stress from wind turbines having an impact.
Last week Council did raise concerns that there may be places in Clarington – for example the Clarington Energy Park – where future wind energy could be welcomed. A staff report and letter from the Clarington Board of Trade said an all encompassing unwilling host resolution could hinder economic development.
The fact that the wind farms are moving ahead quickly, and the energy park is still under development, motivated council to declare Clarington an unwilling host of wind energy.
“I believe that despite your efforts, very few people here tonight would agree that you’ve addressed their concerns,” Mayor Adrian Foster told the wind energy company.
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