Huron County has hit the pause button on plans to investigate health complaints by its residents about industrial wind farms.
Due to start this month, the probe of the impact of wind turbines by Huron County Health Unit has been put on hold by its board of health.
Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel, who chairs the board, said Monday the board wants to check with the province to ensure the work by the health unit doesn’t duplicate other efforts. No decision has been made to drop the probe, Hessel said.
“It just doesn’t make sense to duplicate. We are waiting for information to come back . . . We don’t want to get into duplication because we can’t afford to at a small level. We don’t want to get into a situation where we are throwing money away,” Hessel said.
Ontario is undertaking a health study and the Huron health board wants to know if wind turbines will be part of that work, Hessel said.
But the head of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of anti-wind farm groups, said the health unit has a legal obligation to investigate possible health hazards.
“As a registered nurse, I was frankly shocked at the way this board is trying everything it can to squirm out of its responsibility to the citizens under its care. I would expect them to listen to reports of problems, and then do whatever they can to help,” said Jane Wilson.
Huron County is home to more than 250 industrial wind turbines, with more under construction.
Some residents have complained at public meetings that noise from the turbines has caused sleep problems, anxiety and nosebleeds.
In announcing the study on its website, the Huron County health unit said the investigation was in keeping with its legislative duty to investigate potential health hazards to area residents.
Just as the investigation was to launch, the area’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Owens, was relieved of her duties by the health board.
Declining to provide details behind the departure, Hessel rejected suggestions by wind farm opponents Owens’ departure was connected to the probe and said the study would go ahead.
Owens has not responded to a request for comment.
At the health board meeting last week, where it was decided not to go ahead with the study immediately, a draft of the health unit survey was presented.
“It looks at locations, how far (from turbines), did you have complaints, did you have concerns before – that type of stuff, everything under the sun,” Hessel said.
If the survey is used, it will be voluntary and done online, Hessel said.
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