Port Ryerse residents fighting against wind turbines slated to go up beside their village are protesting because of the certainty the project will harm them, an environmental tribunal hearing heard.
Sleeplessness, sickness, loss of birds, and falling real estate values have hit every community that has ever hosted turbines, Port Ryerse resident Heather Walters testified.
“These are not guesses,” she said. “It is 100% predictable.”
Walters said she is not normally an outspoken advocate for causes and only took up the case against wind power once she heard about the project and started researching it.
“We are not activists,” she said. “I’ve never been involved in anything like this.”
Wednesday’s hearing was held in the council chambers at town hall in Simcoe in front of lawyers representing residents and the project.
The two-person panel hearing the case has the right to put a halt to the project. Last fall, construction was pushed back after a barn owl, an endangered species, was spotted next to the site.
The hearing also heard from Cayuga resident Grant Church, who cited a number of international studies that suggested wind turbines cause illnesses in people, even well beyond the 550 metre setback the Ontario government has set.
A tool and die maker by trade, Church said there are numerous examples of people being made sick by infrasound created by turbines, sometimes from as far away as 2.2 kilometres.
In one case, he said, a group of French scientists found they were being made sick by an improperly installed fan motor in their workplace. They then started to develop weapons based on their findings.
People made ill by “sick building syndrome” often experience the same thing as living next to turbines and the infrasound they emit, he said.
“You can’t hear it, see it, taste it, or smell it, although you might feel it, but its effects can be devastating,” Church testified.
“Not everyone is affected (by infrasound), but is that a reason for this tribunal to not halt the project?”
Sharon Wong, lawyer for the Port Ryerse Wind Farm Limited Partnership, asked Church why he didn’t include in his witness statement a Health Canada study that determined there was no connection between noise from winds turbines and ill health.
“It conflicted with the reality of what I was seeing on the ground,” Church replied.
He also said he read the report and noted it reported 16.5% of people living near turbines were “affected” by them.
Walters said residents of her village were “shocked” when the project was announced a few years ago and they learned that town hall had no control over it.
She said she was unable to get approval to build an eight-by-ten chicken coop on her property yet the Norfolk County planning department didn’t even know about the wind turbines: approvals for green energy projects rest entirely with the province.
Earlier in the day, the hearing moved to the proposed site of the turbines east of the village where a number of protesters with signs were waiting.
The hearing continues at town hall on Monday.
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