SAUGEEN SHORES – If UNIFOR does not provide results of a voluntary acoustic audit of its Port Elgin wind turbine operations by September 1, the Town may request the province to force it to do a mandatory audit to determine if the turbine is operating in compliance with its provincial approval.
At the Feb. 8 Council meeting, Saugeen Shores Deputy-Mayor Luke Charbonneau put his Council colleagues on notice that he’d be asking for the measure – and others – at the Feb. 28 council meeting.
Through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, Saugeen Shores Turbine Operation Policy (STOP) received data detailing 300 complaint-driven observations of noise emissions from the UNIFOR (formerly CAW) turbine. Most of the complaints dealt with sleep disturbance, but also included reports of headaches, nausea, vertigo and other health-related issues.
Charbonneau said his Notice of Motion follows a Feb. 3 meeting with Ministry staff, STOP and the Town – UNIFOR did not attend.
“In spite of hundreds and hundreds of complaints, in spite of many, many tests – which while not being conclusive – show some suspicious, concerning results, no test has been required to say it is, or is not, compliant,” he said following the Feb. 8 council meeting.
“It is important we have that test. It’s important that the public, particularly the folks who feel they are being affected, be able to say it’s compliant with the permit that allows it to operate, and with the guidelines put in place by the provincial government,” Charbonneau said, adding, “We can’t say that now and we need to be able to say that.”
At the Feb. 3 meeting, Ministry officials said UNIFOR intends to voluntarily undertake an acoustic audit this spring, with results expected in June.
Charbonneau’s Notice of Motion asks UNIFOR to inform the public of the acoustic audit, to advise the public of any turbine operation changes that may be required to do the audit, and to make the results available to the Town.
The Motion asks the Ministry to request that UNIFOR make the results public, inform the public of the conclusions, and compel UNIFOR to do mandatory testing if it has not released the voluntary audit results by September 1.
“The Ministry has the responsibility, I think, as the regulator, to ensure that this machine, which it regulates, operates in compliance with the law. They haven’t been doing that…” Charbonneau said, stressing he is not prejudging the results.
STOP spokesman Greg Schmalz, who attended the Feb. 3 meeting, said he was “pleased” that, at least, the Town is pressing for a compulsory audit.
STOP wants UNIFOR to address the main complaint of sleepless nights by shutting down the turbine from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and set the peak daytime noise limit at 40-decibels, the nighttime level for the rest of the province, where a 550-metre buffer is required between wind turbines and residences. The setback was not in effect when the CAW/UNIFOR turbine received approval and began operating in April 2013.
Saugeen Shores Council will debate Charbonneau’s Notice of Motion at its Feb. 28 meeting.
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