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Continued opposition to EDP Renewables wind farm in North Stormont

A renewable energy project, aimed at building between 27 and 34 new wind turbines in North Stormont, faces ongoing opposition from locals who will live close to the towers.

At an open-house style meeting Tuesday, the company that won the contract for the project, EDP Renewables Canada, welcomed people to come by and learn about the project and to ask questions.

Talk of the project began in 2011, and the first information session of this kind was held in May 2015. In a couple months time, the project will be brought to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to review, with a goal of having construction start in the first quarter of 2019.

Since the first public meeting in 2015, citizens like Margaret Benke have been trying to stop the project, due primarily to noise and health concerns, she said.

“As soon as I heard about it I thought, ‘I’ve gotta do something,’” said Benke.

Residents also have environmental concerns, said Benke, as a lot of farm vegetation needs to be dug up to make way for the structures. However, all wind turbines will be placed on the land of willing farmers that have entered into rental contracts with EDP Renewables.

“We live too close together, this is a highly populated area,” said Benke with concern over how living conditions will change for people who live close to the proposed turbines, “It has been frustrating, there’s no question, because there are so many reasons not to do it.”

Though Benke and other protesters cite concern over health effects caused by wind turbines, a study was conducted by Health Canada and Statistics Canada that revealed, though turbines may result in annoyed residents, there have been no changes in quality of life and no direct link to any illnesses that residents reported.

North Stormont residents Carole and John Pirnat are also opposing the project, due to fears that the turbine proximity will de-value their home by up to 30 per cent.

“In other areas the property value has gone down… our house is only 10 years old,” said John, who will live less than a kilometre away from the proposed turbines.

He said he went to the meeting Tuesday to ask more questions and hopefully get some answers.

Tom LoTurco, director of development for EDPR Canada, said the project has been open to discussion since 2015, and throughout the project there will be a lot of different ways that residents can communicate with a community liaison.

“We have some very supportive people and some that are concerned. They want to understand property values and hydro bills. We address all of that,” he said.

As well, LoTurco noted that the turbines will provide jobs and stimulation to the local economy, as 67 per cent of of expenditures for the project will be spent within 50 miles of the site.

“There is a silent majority of people who support the project, we just don’t hear from them as much,” said LoTurco.