West Grey is joining a growing number of municipalities across Ontario that are exploring ways of creating quiet nights for people living near industrial wind turbines.
Council voted last Monday to throw its support behind a coalition of municipalities seeking a nuisance noise bylaw for wind turbines.
Mayor Kevin Eccles said council decided to support the coalition following a presentation at a recent committee of the whole meeting by North Perth Coun. Warren Howard, who is touring Ontario seeking support for a common bylaw.
Howard told West Grey councillors that a recent American study claims to show the impact of wind turbines on personal health.
He said low frequency sound causes swelling of the inner ear, which leads to other health effects such as vertigo, heart palpitation and sleep disturbance.
Eccles said the American study shows people who are impacted by being too close to wind turbines can get relief within as little as 15 minutes after turbines are shut down or they moving away from them.
While West Grey supports the efforts of the coalition, it hasn’t pledged any funding to support what is expected to be a costly court challenge.
Financial support could come in next year’s budget, said Eccles.
Eccles estimates it could cost as much as $50,000 to draft a common bylaw that would stand up to a legal challenge and another $250,000 to defend it in court.
Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie said during an interview last Tuesday he doesn’t think a bylaw to shut down wind turbines at night would stand up court.
“Our view quite strongly is that you’re not going to be able to do that. You’re immediately running into conflicts with provincial legislation . . . municipal legislation takes second place,” he said.
Gillespie said his law firm, acting for a number of municipalities concerned about the health effects of industrial wind turbines, is drafting a bylaw he believes would stand up in court and be available for other municipalities to use.
He said the thrust of the bylaw is to ensure people are protected from the harmful effects of wind turbine noise.
The Green Energy Act of 2009 stripped municipalities of planning authority in the area of renewable energy projects.
Gillespie is representing Leonard Van Den Bosch during the last few days of a hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal being held in Durham this week.
Van Den Bosch appealed the approval of the 14 turbine East Durham Wind Project proposed by Florida based NextEra Energy by the provincial Ministry of the Environment in January of this year.
Saugeen Shores council, which recently agreed to join the coalition seeking to implement a “quiet nights” nuisance bylaw, has pledged $15,000 toward the work of the coalition.
Kincardine has promised $30,000, while Huron Kinloss has pledged $5,000.