AMHERST – Most people are in favour of wind energy but are against wind turbines being built close to where people live and work.
“I feel sorry for them. If it goes through they’re screwed,” said Maralyn Ralph.
Ralph lives on the southwest end of Fort Lawrence Road. Her home is situated west of the Sprott wind turbine farm on the Tantramar Marsh.
She was one of the 120 people who attended Tuesday night’s meeting at the Amherst Golf Club.
Many of the people attending the meeting are opposed to the Amherst Community Wind Farm currently under development by Natural Forces, and Ralph is no exception.
If it goes ahead, the wind farm would be built between the John Black Road and the Pumping Station Road, close to the Amherst Golf Club. They would be situated almost exactly between the two roads and would be at least 1,000 metres from any residence.
Major concerns raised at the meeting regarding the construction, which could be complete by late 2015, include negative effects on health and home values.
Statistics and studies were tabled at the meeting but, as anybody knows, people can pick and choose whatever stats and studies suit their needs.
Ralph is beyond stats and studies, saying she has personally experienced the negative effects of wind turbines.
She started by talking about shadow flickering from the wind turbines.
“The flickering runs from fall to spring, and it comes right in our patio door, right into the dining room. It’s just like Chinese Torture,” said Ralph. “I try to stay out of my kitchen and my dining room which is hard to do because my dining room has my computer in it, and I spend time in my kitchen cooking and cleaning.”
She also has a hard time sleeping because of the flickering and the sound created by the turbines.
“At night I close the blinds and put on a mask. I don’t sleep well. I get three or four hours sleep a night,” she said. “Today was a click, click, click, and in the wintertime it’s even louder. You can tell when one of them is shutting down.”
She and her husband can no longer use the gazebo in their back yard.
“We don’t even use our back patio any more, and we have a gazebo where we ate our meals from May to October and now we hardly use it at all.”
Her house is much too big for her and her husband and they intend to sell some time in the near future.
“When we go to sell it it’s going to be a worth a lot less than what the appraised value is. The appraised value is $268,000, so I don’t imagine we’re going to get that.”
Sprott had agreed to buy her house under certain conditions but those conditions changed.
“They gave us a price on the houses and we agreed to them, and when they didn’t get the contract to build the rest of the windmills (on the northeast side of the highway) that went out the window.”
She says she is not against wind power.
“Like everybody else I’m for wind energy but they could have put it up in the mountains.”
Another person at Tuesday’s meeting, Cheryl Larocque, got up to speak at the meeting. She also said she is not against wind power but wishes wind farms were built further from homes.
She lives 2.1 kilometres away from the turbines on the Tantramar Marsh and says life had become a living nightmare since their installation.
She says 10 per cent of the population can hear low frequency sounds and says she is one of those 10 per cent.
“We cannot stop low frequency sound. It goes straight through,” said Larocque. “There’s no buffer or no curtains out there that can buffer the sound.”
She says the sound from the turbines has reduced her sleeping to one to three hours a night and has caused much suffering.
“If the turbine’s face my home I have sharp pain in my ears. I cry. I don’t want you to suffer like me because you don’t deserve this,” she said. “We have a right to freedom in our home, to live in our home, to breath in our home and to be healthy in our home.”
Andy MacCallum, vice president of development at Natural Forces, spoke to Larocque after the meeting and says he has spoken with her in the past.
“We tend to have good relationships with people who are affected, the few people in the province who are affected by turbines,” he said. “It’s people like that you want to stay even more in touch with.”
Asked if he was aware of Ralph’s issues, MacCallum said he wasn’t.
“I haven’t heard of any issues with them. This is new to me. I’ll look into it,” he said. “But I don’t expect there to be an issue with this wind turbine (development).”
MacCallum said the public consultation process is ongoing and that Natural Forces will soon have another public meeting.
He was at the meeting with Amy Pellerin, Natural Forces development engineer, and both left a stack of business cards at the meeting.
He said anybody with concerns regarding the project can call them.
“Call our cell phones either day or night. We’re also up here every week. We’re more than happy to work through these issues,” he said.
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