LONDON – The debate over wind turbines in Western Ontario is generating some lively opinions among farmers with a clear majority strongly opposed, a Farmers Forum survey suggests.
A random survey of 50 farmers at the London Farm Show on March 5, found that 58 % disapproved of wind turbines.
Just 20 % of survey respondents approved and 22 % were neutral on the issue. Among those who had an opinion, farmers opposed to turbines outnumbered those who approved by almost three-to-one.
Almost 80 % of those who disapprove believe the wind turbines are too costly and are an inefficient source of electricity.
“The capital cost of erecting the wind turbine in the first place is far in excess of what I would think a reasonable return on the investment would be in terms of the energy that is generated by one of those,” said Harold Jackson, a cash crop farmer from Middlesex County.
“I don’t believe the economics are there; this is a money grab,” said a Brant County cash crop farmer who noted that he has worked near wind turbines. “I believe there are health issues. I don’t care what the experts say.”
A few other farmers were concerned about losing farmland to wind turbines.
“The power belongs in the city where it’s being demanded,” said Tyler Vollmershausen, a cash crop farmer from Oxford County. “We’re on this infrastructure across the countryside and the power is being demanded in the city. Why are we producing it out here?”
“The windmills don’t belong on farmland,” said Lambton County cash crop and livestock farmer Peter Aarts. “We have solar panels but the solar panels are on the roof and nobody notices that they’re there.”
Other reasons for disapproval included decreasing farmland values, adverse health effects, their appearance, and that the issue pits farmer against farmer.
Of those who approve of wind turbines, their reasons were evenly split between generating income for the farm and producing a renewable energy source.
“I have no problem with them. It’s green energy,” said Gary Van Leeuwen, a cash crop farmer from Elgin County. “It’s pricey, but we have to look long term, not short term.”
“I am against nuclear and I’m very concerned about the storage facilities for nuclear waste in the Kincardine area,” said Huron County cash crop farmer Uli Hundt.
Middlesex County cash crop farmer Charlie Paas is planning to earn some income from a wind turbine when one is built on his farm this year.
“You can complain about changing the landscape, but you stick a house somewhere you change the landscape too,” said Paas.
“I approve of them in the right location,” said Wayne Cunningham, who likes the aspect of producing green energy.
But the Wellington County cash crop farmer echoed some of the concerns of those who disapprove.
“I don’t approve of them going into prime farmland. We’re losing too much agricultural land every year.”
Of those who had no opinion, most said they did not have enough information about wind turbines to comment.
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