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London hearing on health effects of wind turbines shut down due to activists

It was a turbulent beginning to a hearing about the impact of turbines on human and environmental health, as the adjudicator shut down the process after only a few minutes.

As two protesters refused to turn off their video equipment, hearing chairperson Dirk VanderBent warned they must comply or he would have to adjourn the hearing.

They didn’t; he did.

At issue are 37 turbines wind energy giant NextEra Canada plans to build in Adelaide-Metcalfe, west of Strathroy.

The Environmental Review Tribunal, VanderBent said, is to hear and adjudicate whether the Adelaide wind farm would cause serious harm to human health or serious, irreversible harm to the environment.

Anti-wind activist Esther Wrightman was set to argue that the turbines would pose unacceptable health risks and should be scrapped.

Sitting in the gallery were about 30 other wind opponents, many of them holding signs.

As the hearing at the Middlesex County buidling started Tuesday morning, Wrightman asked that cameras be allowed in the room to accommodate a person with a learning disability.

That was denied, except for VanderBent’s opening statement, after which he asked that all cameras be turned off.

One person continued to record with her iPad and another with her camera.

Exasperated, VanderBent adjourned until the afternoon.

Marcelle Brooks, who continued recording with her iPad until lawyers for NextEra and the provincial Environment Ministry had left the room, said she has no plans to comply. “The people in Ontario have a right to see what goes on in these tribunals…People need to see.”

Her frustration escalated as she learned that several of the witnesses she had planned to call – including Skype (video phone via the Internet) testimony from an Australian doctor and a property appraiser from Chicago – would not be allowed as witnesses.

With nine of her 11 witnesses barred from testifying, or whose testimony would be severely restricted, “It’s dead. This hearing is dead,” she said as she pondered her next steps.