Stephana Johnston retired to a small rural community on the north shore of Lake Erie after a career in teaching. Her newfound home was quiet, peaceful and friendly. She imagined she would live out her days in Clear Creek. But five years ago, trucks arrived to erect 18 industrial wind turbines around her home. Her dream retirement came to an abrupt and rude end.
When the turbines turn Stephana becomes disoriented, dizzy and has great difficulty sleeping. Relief comes only when the wind doesn’t blow or she is away from her home. Wind energy proponents and developers don’t believe the massive machines are making her sick. Her government doesn’t believe her either. Its officials have weeded through the existing medical literature and can’t find anything linking Ms. Johnston’s complaints to the busload of magnets and current spinning above her home.
This week the octogenarian will testify how industrial wind turbines have altered her life—making her home unlivable and next to impossible to sell. Stephana Johnston is one of more than a dozen witnesses testifying to the direct effects of wind turbines before an appeal of a nine-turbine wind project approved for Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.
It is time for those who have endured sleeplessness, nausea, and torment as a result of industrial wind turbines built near their homes to explain what these machines have done to their health. To their lives.
The first two months of the hearing focused on the harm the project will have on birds, animals and the natural habitat on this rugged bit of shoreline on the south shore of the County. Now the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) will hear from those who say that industrial wind turbines built too close to homes and people can damage their health.
The panel consisting of Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs will hear from experts such as Dr. Robert McMurtry, who will lay out the most current evidentiary data pointing to harm from turbines. They will hear from residents of Wolfe Island, Chatham-Kent and elsewhere across the province—people who endure what the neighbours of Ostrander Point are likely to face.
This is the first hearing in which these victims are being permitted to explain what has happened to them as a result of industrial wind turbines built too close to their homes.
The appeal hearing has set aside the remainder of this week as well as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week to listen to the evidence for the appellant, the Alliance for the Protection of Prince Edward County (APPEC).
After that the Ministry of the Environment’s lawyers will call their witnesses. They are expected to argue that in the absence of a direct causal link between industrial wind turbines and the symptoms nearby residents report, the decision to approved the project should not be overturned.
Similarly the developer, Gilead Power Corporation, is expected to dismiss health concerns as unproven and therefore not amounting to a basis upon which to overturn the approval of its project.
The ERT is scheduled to convene today (Wednesday) at Sophiasburgh Hall in Demorestville starting at 9:30 a.m. before moving to Toronto on Thursday and Friday. Interested residents can listen to the Toronto hearings by teleconference. To do so they must contact Paul Demedeiros at Paul.Demedeiros@ontario.ca or by calling 416.314.4600.
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