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Local health unit calls for greater municipal input into siting of wind turbine projects  

Credit:  June 22, 2013 | www.northumberlandview.ca ~~

(Brighton) When it comes to the siting of industrial wind turbine projects, the local health unit wants municipalities and community members to have a greater say in the process.

At yesterday’s meeting, Board of Health members for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit called for greater municipal and community input into a recently announced review process of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan.

The review is expected to be completed within six months and will consider all aspects of Ontario’s electricity system – conservation, generation, transmission, distribution and emerging technologies such as energy storage.

The Board also requested that community members, especially those living in the vicinity of proposed wind turbine projects, be given the opportunity to provide input on the projects and that the Board of Health continue to work with the Ministry of Environment to ensure that companies proposing projects comply with all the rules and regulations around the siting of wind turbines, including the increased set-backs that apply to the cumulative number of turbines in a proposed area.

“We have to realize that wind turbines are here to stay,” Board of Health member Gil Brocanier said. “In everything we have heard it appears that wind turbines are not the issue, but where they are sited. There are hundreds of municipalities that have passed motions about the health issues caused by wind turbines and they are not gaining any traction with the province. What is gaining traction is having the municipalities have some control over siting so that we don’t have some of the issues we face now.”

The Board’s motion came after a decision to amalgamate two different resolutions – one put forward by Board of Health member and City of Kawartha Lakes councilor Heather Stauble and one put forward by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy.

In speaking to her resolution, Councillor Stauble spoke of the need to address siting and set-back requirements for on-going and proposed wind turbine projects and the frustration that people who live near the proposed projects face in relation to health issues and decreasing property values.

Dr. Noseworthy spoke to her resolution and said that, while the Board has heard a number of presentations and delegations about wind turbines, there remains insufficient scientific evidence that there are adverse health effects related to wind turbines.

“There is evidence that some people are annoyed by them, with annoyance being related to wind turbine noise, the visibility of wind turbines, differential economic benefits from them, and the lack of meaningful input into the siting of them,” she said.

The new motion was unanimously approved by the Board of Health and included recognition that there have been numerous self-reported health concerns among residents near wind turbines.

The Ministry of Energy recently announced that it will be working with the Ontario Power Authority and municipalities to develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kilowatts that will require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify locations and site requirements. As well, the new process will be increasing local control in renewable energy development and that it will work with municipalities to focus on conservation and helping to identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.

“I think this is a good place to be and a good resolution to put forward,” Dr. Noseworthy said during the discussion. “I think this will carry a lot more weight and will be well received provincially by helping to pave the way to move forward.”

The Board of Health has heard a number of delegations and presentations on the issue of industrial wind turbines. At the May meeting, area residents Tyne Bonebakker and Dave Tomiszer made a presentation on acoustical measurement and impact in which they recommended that the prescribed setbacks for wind turbines be in decibels rather than meters, and that the Board of Health recommend the Ministry of the Environment refuse the approval of industrial wind farms until conclusive and independent clinic health studies be completed and that safe low frequency and infrasound noise level guidelines be established.

At the May meeting, the Board also heard from Dr. Ray Copes, Chief, Environmental and Occupational Health for Public Health Ontario, who presented a public health perspective on wind turbines and discussed how the potential health and safety risks from wind turbines appear modest when compared to other technology. Dr. Copes also discussed noise, night noise guidelines for Europe from the World Health Organization (WHO), sound produced by wind turbines and factors that may influence annoyance from wind turbines.

A copy of the complete approved resolution is attached to this media release.

TITLE: Municipal and Community Involvement and Control in Renewable Energy Development

WHEREAS pursuant to the Green Energy Act, 2009, SO 2009, c 12, Sch A, as amended (“GEA”) , the Environmental Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.19, as amended (“EPA”) and O. Reg 359/09 (“Renewable Energy Approvals under Part V.0.1 of the Act”) under the EPA, the siting of industrial wind turbines is under the exclusive authority of the Government of Ontario: and

WHEREAS the Minister of Energy recently announced a review of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan; and

WHEREAS, working with the Ontario Power Authority (“OPA”) and municipalities, the province will develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kilowatts (kW); and

WHEREAS the new process will replace the existing large project stream of the Feed-In Tariff (“FIT”) program and better meet the needs of communities by requiring energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify appropriate locations and site requirements for any future large renewable energy projects; and

WHEREAS the Minister of Energy further announced that the province would be increasing local control in renewable energy development and that Ontario will:

  • Revise the Small Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program rules for projects between 10 and 500 kW to give priority to projects partnered or led by municipalities.
  • Work with municipalities to determine a property tax rate increase for wind turbine towers.
  • Provide funding to help small and medium-sized municipalities develop Municipal Energy Plans – which will focus on increasing conservation and helping identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.

AND WHEREAS there have been numerous self-reported health concerns among residents near wind turbine projects;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOVED THAT the Board of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit recommends that local municipalities provide input into the review of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, and the Ontario Power Authority (“OPA”) and municipal initiative to develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects regarding changes they would like to see in relevant provincial legislation, regulations and supporting documents so that concerns they have regarding the siting of wind turbines are addressed;

AND FURTHER THAT the Board of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit recommends that local municipalities work with the Ministry of Energy’s Renewable Energy Facilitation Office to develop their Municipal Energy Plans; …/2

AND FURTHER THAT the Board of Health, to the extent possible under existing legislation, continue to work with the Ministry of Environment to see that the Ministry requires proponents to comply with all of the rules, regulations, and legislation concerning the siting of wind turbines in the Province of Ontario, including the increased set-backs that apply to the cumulative number of turbines in a proposed area;

AND FURTHER THAT, in order to reduce community anxiety and stress related to reported health concerns, an opportunity for input from community members, especially those living in the vicinity of proposed wind turbine projects, be built into any process before final approval is given to these projects;

AND FURTHER THAT the Board of Health, to the extent possible under existing legislation, continue to work with the Ministry of Environment to see that the Ministry requires proponents to comply with all of the rules, regulations, and legislation concerning the siting of wind turbines in the Province of Ontario, including the increased set-backs that apply to the cumulative number of turbines in a proposed area;

AND FURTHER THAT, in order to reduce community anxiety and stress related to reported health concerns, an opportunity for input from community members, especially those living in the vicinity of proposed wind turbine projects, be built into any process before final approval is given to these projects;

AND FURTHER THAT the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County, Haliburton County, the Premier of Ontario, Ministers of Energy and Environment, Association of Municipalities of Ontario and Ontario Boards of Health are so advised.

Footnote: Written by: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

Source:  June 22, 2013 | www.northumberlandview.ca

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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