Three and a half years after it slapped a moratorium on off-shore wind power projects to do more research, the Ontario government has issued a call for further study.
The province has posted a notice requesting bids for a “technical evaluation of sound propagation modelling methodologies to predict Offshore Wind Farm noise impacts in Ontario.”
The proposal asks bidders to do a review of existing studies. Actual field measurements and testing “are outside the scope of this study,” it says.
The province first ordered a halt to offshore wind projects in February, 2011, saying it wanted to do further study on their environmental impacts.
The moratorium on off-shore projects was viewed by some as a stall tactic, to push the issue past the provincial election that was due later that year. It has remained in place ever since.
Kate Jordan, spokesperson for Ontario’s environment ministry, said the province is taking a cautious approach to off-shore wind, and the new study is “in keeping with the science-based approach used to establish the standards for onshore wind projects.”
She said the ministry of natural resources has completed three studies on offshore turbines since the moratorium was announced.
The new studies should take six to nine months to complete, she said.
Peter Tabuns of the New Democratic Party said the new request shows the Liberals have lost interest in the issue:
“It just says to me this whole file is on the far back burner for them.”
But John Yakabuski of the Conservatives said it could be a friendly gesture by the Liberals toward the wind industry, keeping the possibility of offshore wind projects alive.
He said asking for the study is a mistake, since no one wants turbines in the Great Lakes.
“It’s something they should shelve permanently,” he said in an interview.
“There’s no desire to have wind turbines. We’re not short of power. Why would we be going down this road at this time?”
A spokesperson for the Canadian Wind Energy Association said it was only informed of the new study late Friday, and is still assessing what it means.
Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, which is critical of wind power, was also uncertain how to interpret the request.
She noted that it does not specifically ask for research on low-frequency sound – which is below the range of human hearing but may still have physical effects on health.
She said it would be useful to study whether the sound of turbines on Wolfe Island near Kingston travels across the water and affects people or wildlife on the opposite shore.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding