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Proposed turbines continue to draw discussion

It was a full house in Norwich council chambers Tuesday morning as concerned community members and a representative from Prowind Canada addressed council about the controversial and potential Gunn's Hill wind farm. Council was asked to weigh both sides of the debate, with the opposition requesting a moratorium on any further development until a decision is reached. They were also reminded municipalities have the right to enforce the setback distance of their choice.

It was a full house in Norwich council chambers Tuesday morning as concerned community members and a representative from Prowind Canada addressed council about the controversial and potential Gunn's Hill wind farm.

Council was asked to weigh both sides of the debate, with the opposition requesting a moratorium on any further development until a decision is reached. They were also reminded municipalities have the right to enforce the setback distance of their choice.

Currently the Ministry of the Environment only sets distances by sound, variable to topography. Bart Geleynse, Prowind project manager, said its 500-metre proposed setback would more than cover the requirements.

In Europe, where wind farms are more common, there have been suggested setback distances of one and a half kilometres, including a recommendation by the French National Academy of Medicine.

The public portion of the council meeting started with Geleynse, who reiterated the fact that the Curries Road and Middletown Line property in question is only in preliminary stages, with a met mast erected to test for viable wind speeds until at least summer 2009.

But the more than 25 neighbours from homes and farms... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

It was a full house in Norwich council chambers Tuesday morning as concerned community members and a representative from Prowind Canada addressed council about the controversial and potential Gunn's Hill wind farm.

Council was asked to weigh both sides of the debate, with the opposition requesting a moratorium on any further development until a decision is reached. They were also reminded municipalities have the right to enforce the setback distance of their choice.

Currently the Ministry of the Environment only sets distances by sound, variable to topography. Bart Geleynse, Prowind project manager, said its 500-metre proposed setback would more than cover the requirements.

In Europe, where wind farms are more common, there have been suggested setback distances of one and a half kilometres, including a recommendation by the French National Academy of Medicine.

The public portion of the council meeting started with Geleynse, who reiterated the fact that the Curries Road and Middletown Line property in question is only in preliminary stages, with a met mast erected to test for viable wind speeds until at least summer 2009.

But the more than 25 neighbours from homes and farms surrounding the property -- a family farm leasing out part of its field -- say they don't want the issue to sneak by.

Using a map during her presentation, area resident Joan Morris -- who also has a degree in epidemiology and worked as a certified clinical researcher -- said there are 30 family homes, two dairy farms and three chicken operations within a 1,500 metre radius.

With a looming energy crisis, Geleynse spoke of "dirty" traditional power generation, advocating evolving green technology.

"The bottom line is that we need to reduce our dependence," he said, adding Ontario is maxed out in producing hydro-electric power.

The three to five wind turbines -- depending on their megawatt size -- could reap as much as 11 cents a kilowatt hour from which the landowner would be paid a percentage. Solar earns more, at approximately 42 cents a kilowatt hour, however it occupies more land mass and costs more to develop, Geleynse said after being asked why the company did not consider solar power for the area.

Township councillors asked why Prowind sought out the busy agricultural area, as opposed to a lake where wind speeds are higher.

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"There is viable wind in Oxford County to realize wind farms," he said. "It's not stellar, it's not the middle of Lake Erie, but it's good."

To install wind turbines in water is also more costly.

The chief concern for area residents are the potentially adverse health effects on their family and livestock, as well as subsequent decreased property value.

Geleynse said the environmental assessment process, which includes steps from the Canadian Wildlife Services and the Ministry of the Environment, ensures all concerns are dealt with.

"It's no overnight thing," he said.

Working through Hydro One and the Ontario Power Authority, Geleynse said to connect the turbines to the grid will likely require upgrades that should reduce the risk of ungrounded, or stray voltage documented to cause health problems in dairy cows and other animals.

But when he was asked who would be liable should problems arise, Geleynse skirted the issue, saying should something direct occur, such as a blade coming loose, the company has insurance to cover any problems.

"But we have to be careful how we define health issues," he said, adding many other structures can cause stray voltage.

"Are you going to put one of those in your backyard?" Coun. Russell Jull asked.

While Geleynse downplayed anecdotal evidence from other communities that have wind farms, Morris argued the first-hand accounts of residents who experienced headaches and sleeplessness is valid.

Morris further argued there have been no clinical trials, because it would be inhumane to do so.

If the ensuing health problems are not real, she then asked why there have been two international conferences on wind turbines?

Morris also drew councillors' attention to the work of Dr. Nina Pierpont, who is releasing a book later this month, on what she calls wind turbine syndrome.

In a paper published by Malone Telegram in 2005, she asks, how close is too close? After examining issues including flicker and noise, Pierpont concludes "wind turbines should not be built within 1.5 miles of people's homes ... People living 1.5 to three miles from a proposed turbine site should be notified of potential health and life quality effects."

There is a public meeting scheduled at the Quality Hotel and Suites from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tonight.

 


Source: http://www.woodstocksentine...

AUG 14 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16526-proposed-turbines-continue-to-draw-discussion
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