Faced with an improbability of forcing the 230kv Dufferin Wind Power (DWPI) transmission line to be buried wherever it crosses the township, Amaranth council has asked both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to have work on the wind farm stopped.
A township council motion of Feb. 19 by Deputy Mayor Walter Kolodziechuk gives five reasons why the council considers the transmission line and the wind farm should be considered prematurely approved, and asks for “an immediate moratorium on this project until ordinary people are assured, given the proof, of their safety and security and the environment that surrounds them.
“And further that health studies be undertaken immediately to establish a baseline before operation of the Wind Farm and Transmission Line and that a compensation plan be in place to protect people, their health and wealth,” the motion reads.
The appeal was directed personally to the premier and the prime minister.
Not surprisingly, the first of the five reasons cited was related to the transmission line.“Whereas the Ontario Energy Board has approved the (DWPI) project, specifically ignoring human health and environmental impacts…,” the reason states before moving on to cite opposition from the affected municipalities, among other things mainly health-related.
The apparent emphasis on the power line is not surprising, as both Amaranth and Melancthon have stated in the past that they feel like second-class municipalities since the line would be buried through more densely populated Shelburne.
If there is no risk to human health from overhead high voltage lines, they have asked rhetorically, why bury the line through an urban area and past a school.
As well, Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver had appeared as a presenter at the Environmental Review Tribunal to speak passionately against upholding the OEB’s leave to construct the line in accordance with the design. He pointed out, in addition to health effects he had researched, that Amaranth’s rules are that such power lines must be buried.
The mayor had also spoken against a $1.4-million county agreement with DWPI for an easement on the county-owned rail corridor, saying he wanted to take the agreement back to his council before voting on it.
In a news release apparently issued and/ or approved by all members of the council, Amaranth says: “There is sufficient evidence worldwide on the health effects of Electromagnetic Fields from high voltage lines to invoke the precautionary principle and undertake in situ health and environmental studies.”
It goes on to say that 230kv lines are the ones on the giant stands in the electricity corridors of the provincial grid.
“Here, the 230kv line on single wood poles will be located on a 10-metre strip with property owner’s fences on one side and the county recreational trail on the other.”
Mayor MacIver, apart from the motion and the release, has questioned whether there would be a health risk to trail users from the resulting EMF.
The appeal has been made at a time when DWPI is advanced in its development of the wind farm’s access roads and turbine tower bases. It also comes at a time when Melancthon resident Dennis Sanford is launching an appeal of the ERT ruling to Divisional Court, and CORE (Conserve Our Rural Environment) is waiting in the wings to deliver its own appeal to the minister of environment.
Deputy Mayor Kolodziechuk could not be reached for comment, so it wasn’t clear if burial of the line would satisfy Amaranth’s concerns. However, DWPI had already asserted that burial of the 230kv line for its full distance would be impractical.
The county needs to decide on the lease agreement prior to March 10 – an extension to an earlier deadline of Feb.18.
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