The latest setback in the fight by residents against industrial wind turbines on the steep hills of Deposit and Windsor can be laid unequivocally at the doorstep of the Sanford Town Board.
That is not our verdict but the words of the New York State Appellate Court in their decision rejecting the case brought by local campaigners. The Court said that the Town Board had failed to follow up on a law which would have forced Bluestone Wind to increase the distance between peoples’ homes and the 700-foot-high turbines. Thanks to the Town Board’s negligence Bluestone will be able to erect the huge turbines some 300 yards from peoples’ homes.
The court was clear that the Sanford Town’s negligence played a key role in the state’s rejection of the local law. They argued that “the Town had ample notice of the proceeding and was actively involved therein, yet failed to present evidence in support of the enforcement of Local Law No. 4 or otherwise move the Siting Board to consider it… This fact, as well as the Town’s failure to take exception to the recommended decision, provide ample support for the Siting Board’s determination.”
The fate of the golden eagle population was another issue raised by the campaigners. The court’s resistance to evidence presented by Delaware Otsego Audubon Society (DOAS) was illustrated in their conclusions on the need to protect the eagle population that uses the project area for, among other things, hunting and perching. The Court concluded that, “Petitioners’ evidence on this issue, offered by seasoned local bird watchers and scientists, may be seen as persuasive.” Despite accepting ‘persuasive’ expert evidence that eagles would be killed by the turbines, the court sided against the facts and on Bluestone’s side, sentencing countless beautiful eagles to needless deaths.
As local people in the area watch the devastation of their environment – deforestation, removal of habitat for deer, for fish, and the dangers facing the eagles, as well as the threat to their own health, they are left with a jaundiced view of their town representatives and state agencies that are expected to protect life and environment.
Bereaved residents are calling for Sanford Town Supervisor Dewey Decker’s resignation as he almost single handedly paved the way for the contested project that will destroy their homes and quality of life, making ‘back door deals’ with the developer before the public was given notice or an opportunity for meaningful participation early enough in the process. He stoically faced the angry residents at the town hall meetings and ignored the local pleas for his help as the scale and impact of the project went public. The impacted locals vow to come after him with lawsuits for damages once the turbines are up.
These turbines are larger than any put on land before, with unprecedented impacts reaching far and wide. Over 400 homes will be ‘flicker recipients’ and the real extent of the noise and vibration impacts on humans and animals in the surrounding valleys is being denied and understudied. Chair of BCCR, Anne Lawrence, said: “It’s unconscionable that large industrial utilities like this are allowed to go up in rural neighborhoods and pristine forests, using shortcuts and rushed processes instead of due diligence and honest information for the public. Clearly, the DEC’s role here was not to enforce ‘Environmental Conservation’ but to help greenwash a politically motivated project. State energy policy is all about boasting about ‘clean energy’ and carbon emission reductions that sound good on paper. But there is no evidence that deforestation and the destruction of wetlands to build industrial turbines which are dependent on fossil fuels will produce clean energy. Saving the planet from the climate crisis will, unfortunately, not be a benefit of this destruction.”
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