MILLBROOK – Medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Pellizzari got a frosty reception from Cavan Monaghan Township council Tuesday after presenting a health unit report on the human impact of renewable energy projects such as wind turbines.
The Peterborough County-City Health Unit report said high carbon dioxide producing energy forms such as coal have far greater adverse health effects on Ontarians as do renewable energy sources.
While there has been some evidence of health concerns for those living in proximity to industrial wind turbines, and there are two major studies on such impacts currently underway, the current provincial setbacks of 550 metres are reasonable, the report states.
That message didn’t exactly sit well with a council that is trying to prevent wind turbines in its township and has long been critical of the province’s Green Energy Act.
“The Green Energy Act as far as I’m concerned is a farce,” Coun. Tim Belch said.
“The government and the health unit as a mouthpiece for the government, as far as I’m concerned, is selling us a bill of goods that is complete nonsense.”
Pellizzari politely took exception to being called a government mouthpiece.
“I’ll try not to take offence at your comment. I do want to clarify that I am a physician first and I am independent even from my board and I speak on behalf of the public and my mandate is to protect the public,” she said.
“This paper was not intended to be a policy paper. It was meant to provide the board with what is known about the health impact of different forms of energy. It’s a very complex problem. If it was simple, we would have solved this a long time ago … and it’s important that we grapple with the complexities of both climate change and energy production.”
Coun. Jim Chaplin said the province appears keen on putting up as many wind turbines as it can before science proves they pose a significant health threat.
“Our provincial government seems bent on putting up as many possible wind turbines as they can, these monstrosities, when there is federal health studies going on,” he said. “I don’t think this has been very well thought through.”
Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden said it was poor policy to continue approving wind projects when there is a surplus of electricity in Ontario. He questioned why the local and provincial health units have not taken a stance on the issue.
“The more electricity we bring on, whether it’s the purest electricity going, we don’t need it. We’re paying high, exorbitant rates for it, well above market costs and we’re dumping it to the states,” he said.
“If we don’t need the electricity, why as a health unit are you not saying ‘stop’ in the name of protection for the health of the citizens?”
Pellizzari conceded Public Health Ontario has not reviewed the issue and she committed to pass along council’s concerns.
“You make a very compelling case and I will bring your comments forward,” she said. “There has not been a public health position on energy in Ontario. We can let them know that there is an interest, if not expectations that there be something there.”
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