A request for further studies into wind turbine infrasound divided council April 6 and raised worries the data collected will eventually be used by the municipality to take legal action against wind power companies.
Tabled last week, Tiverton resident Ernie Young asked council in an email to conduct a noise and infrasound study at his home near the proposed Meyer wind power project. The turbines have yet to be constructed and the study would compare infrasound and noise prior to and following the turbines operating.
The request was accompanied by a study proposal from local residents Rachel Thompson and Patti Hutton on behalf of anti-wind turbine advocacy group Central Grey Bruce Wind Concerns Ontario.
Councillors Randy Roppel and Linda McKee were in favour of exploring this issue arguing the results of the study may later prove important.
Arguing against was Councillor Laura Haight who repeatedly asked Roppel and McKee to explain the intended use of the data.
Councillor Maureen Couture also voiced worry that heeding Young’s email request would set a precedent.
“I’m just concerned about the precedent of any body phoning us up or sending us an email for a study to be done,” she said. “I would really, really like to see a staff report on this before we make any kind of decision.”
Roppel was quick to show his support for conducting a study on Young’s property, saying “there’s a major benefit to having the sound testing done.”
He also called for municipal Staff to discuss the Wind Concerns Ontario proposal with Thompson and Hutton to see if it could be made more cost effective in the event council decides to conduct the study.
Haight then asked Roppel: “What is the purpose of the report and that data? What are we going to use it for?”
Haight said she had asked the same question last August when council hired Swallow Acoustics Consultants Ltd. at $60,300 to complete a baseline acoustic sound and infrasound study on five properties within the Armow Wind project prior to the wind turbines being operational.
The baseline results were brought back to council in February.
Roppel said the studies lay the groundwork necessary to compare the difference in sound and infrasound levels before and after the wind turbines go operational.
“The bottom line is down the road you’re going to need this studies,” he said.
“For?” Haight asked.
“You’re going to be called upon to protect the people that we’re here to protect, and that’s where this thing is going,” said Roppel.
Haight then said investigations into whether wind turbines have adverse effects on health is outside the council’s purview.
McKee interjected that residents living near the wind farms are concerned and that all they want to do is gather as much information on the turbines as possible.
“We’re going to need that information in the future, and we need to protect our people here,” she said.
Haight then repeated her question as to what the intended use of the data was.
“Maybe it’s given to the Ministry of Environment,” said McKee.
“What’s the point?” asked Haight.
“That there is infrasound and that it has health effects,” said McKee.
“We’re not studying health effects, we’re just studying infrasound,” said Haight.
Mayor Anne Eadie then said before investigating health effects first an increase in infrasound needs to be proven.
To which Haight said infrasound from turbines has been observed and even the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change recognizes the increase in infrasound due to wind turbines.
Obviously frustrated, Couture then repeated her earlier request for a Staff report before getting into this discussion.
“I’m sorry I want to have some facts in front of me from our Staff before we start throwing things out on the table that we don’t know what we’re talking about,” she said.
The question posed by Haight was not being answered, Couture said.
“And Anne I want to be really honest,” Haight directed to the mayor. “Some people have approached me and said, is it the purpose of this to use it for litigation? Is the municipality going to fund litigation against the wind turbine companies?”
Those who have approached her on this matter, Haight said, don’t understand why council is conducting these noise studies when infrasound from wind turbines isn’t regulated by the government.
The purpose of the studies, said Eadie, is if the information is needed at least the municipality has it.
“Then there’s some scientific facts if down the road they’re needed, if our community needs them, then it’s there. The studies are there. We don’t know exactly what they’ll say yet. Each area’s different. It’s very specific. So we agreed last summer, that was the purpose of the study. So that’s it,” said Eadie.
Council then voted to direct Staff to create a report on a infrasound study of Young’s property as well as to consult Thompson and Hutton on the matter.
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