I really didn’t think David had a chance.
No offence to David – in this case, an ordinary group of citizens who have spent an extraordinary amount of time becoming pseudo-experts on all things industrial wind turbines – but at first there didn’t appear even the slightest chance of stopping the threat of wind power. It certainly seemed that way when the turbines began to rise from the rural landscape last fall. Though I understood your efforts, it seemed as though they were futile.
Yet you pushed on, and because of you operation of the project was stalled, and the project’s status went from approved to awaiting approval.
Four out of the five were built closer to neighbouring property lines than the stipulated distance – the height of the turbine from base to hub. That’s an 80 per cent error rate. If that was a math test, they’d have failed miserably.
If your neighbour builds a shed or fence too close to your property, there are steps that you can take to correct that action. But when the something they built too close is a 95-metre tall metal tower weighing 205 metric tonnes (plus the blades), it’s a little tricky. But in this case, I don’t know how the provincial government can justify letting this madness continue.
Land owner Anne Meinen wrote to the ministry to tell them; the location of one of the turbines is impacting her ability to farm her land – something she has done for more than 40 years. One of the turbines encroaches on two of her property lines (the property is L-shaped) and limits her use of aerial technology. Meinen made these points clear in her comments on the amendment that project proponents Vineland Power Inc. and Rankin Wind Energy filed after their mapping error was discovered.
Meinen and many of the other residents didn’t want the wind turbines in the first place. One drive around the site of the towering whirly birds will clearly give you the impression of a 100 per cent neighbour disapproval rating. So to have to just accept that big business can get it wrong and still get a rubber stamp is a slap in the face of the supposed democracy we have in this country.
When former premier Dalton McGuinty said he was going to get rid of the NIMBY crowd (Not In My Backyard), I don’t think he realized just how much people are willing to fight for their rights. Rights that we have today because our forefathers fought for them. McGuinty and his Green Energy Act may have enabled big business to move ahead with their wind agendas, but it didn’t quiet the bystanders. They are doing anything but standing down, and it’s paying off.
The latest disrespect shown by big business may be the stone that helps David take Goliath down; without consent from the Ministry of the Environment, the project was turned on, on June 12. They were told that doing so would be out of compliance, but that didn’t seem to matter.
It seems that big business thinks it can walk all over the residents without any recourse, and there hasn’t been any up until this point. When it was discovered the turbines were not built to the specified setbacks the province said that’s OK, you can file an amendment. A slap on the wrist that for some, is not enough.
What will happen now? Wind turbines are turned on without warning, without permission. What recourse is there for that? Premier Wynne, you say you became the minister of agriculture to fix your party’s broken relationship with rural Ontario. Now is the time to prove you were serious. How can you let big business stomp on the toes of innocent rural residents? Of Ontarians who chose to live in the country for the peace and quiet, not for the whomp, whomp, whomp of industrial wind turbines?
Your Green Energy Act has done more to harm the concept of green energy than it has in convincing Ontarians to embrace it. The township’s efforts to attract young families is thwarted by the bad reputation the wind turbines have garnered.
Municipalities like West Lincoln and Wainfleet have turned down applications for solar projects to express their dismay at the Act. That certainly is not helping Ontario, or anyone else end their reliance on draconian oil burning technology.
Solar, biomass, hydroelectricity and yes, even wind all have a place in Ontario but there needs to be more thought on how to implement these technologies in a way that is both affordable and appropriate. Ontarians deserve a clean environment but they don’t deserve to pay the price of ludicrous subsidies to live with technology they don’t want. Perhaps it is time for government sponsored programs which install solar panels on Ontarians roofs to minimize reliance on central power generation stations.
Premier Wynne, it is now up to you to do the right thing. Will you let big business step all over the little Davids who have little more than stones to cast at the business giants threatening their peaceful environment or will you take a stand? If you rubber stamp this project you are setting a dangerous precedent in this province. By approving the amendment, you are telling big business it is OK to break the rules. You are saying it’s OK for Goliath to pick on David with no recourse.