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Opponents of wind tower project speak up at information meeting

An information meeting came close, at times, to transforming into a witch hunt, after more than 400 people crowded into the Manvers Arena to voice concerns over a proposed wind tower project. Monday (Sept. 28) night's meeting was called by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh after many area residents felt they were treated poorly and did not receive important information on the project during an open house hosted by Energy Farming Ontario in Pontypool on Aug. 27.

An information meeting came close, at times, to transforming into a witch hunt, after more than 400 people crowded into the Manvers Arena to voice concerns over a proposed wind tower project.

Monday (Sept. 28) night's meeting was called by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh after many area residents felt they were treated poorly and did not receive important information on the project during an open house hosted by Energy Farming Ontario in Pontypool on Aug. 27.

Coun. Marsh pointed out the previous meeting provided no answers and only succeeded in frustrating people. He added, while he is not against alternative energy, he does have a problem with people's rights being ignored along with concerns over property values and health.

The Settlers Landing Snowy Ridge Wind Park project proposes to construct up to 30 wind turbines in the Bethany area. The study area spans east to Porter Road, west to the Manvers-Scugog Line, north to Lifford Road and south to Telecom Road.

Project manager Kelly Campbell clarified the project is only in the early stages of planning. Major studies and environmental assessments are expected to take place in late spring. She affirmed the project must meet provincial guidelines and permits must... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

An information meeting came close, at times, to transforming into a witch hunt, after more than 400 people crowded into the Manvers Arena to voice concerns over a proposed wind tower project.

Monday (Sept. 28) night's meeting was called by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh after many area residents felt they were treated poorly and did not receive important information on the project during an open house hosted by Energy Farming Ontario in Pontypool on Aug. 27.

Coun. Marsh pointed out the previous meeting provided no answers and only succeeded in frustrating people. He added, while he is not against alternative energy, he does have a problem with people's rights being ignored along with concerns over property values and health.

The Settlers Landing Snowy Ridge Wind Park project proposes to construct up to 30 wind turbines in the Bethany area. The study area spans east to Porter Road, west to the Manvers-Scugog Line, north to Lifford Road and south to Telecom Road.

Project manager Kelly Campbell clarified the project is only in the early stages of planning. Major studies and environmental assessments are expected to take place in late spring. She affirmed the project must meet provincial guidelines and permits must be secured with the municipality and provincial agencies before construction can begin.

While it was difficult to hear some of the speakers at times during the meeting - the whirring ceiling fans providing an interesting sidebar to turbine noise complaints - there was no disputing the issue is an emotional one for residents.

On several occasions, Coun. Marsh had to remind people of the meeting's nature; that of raising questions, not debate. At one point, several attendees began chanting 'no wind, no wind.' Others were critical of a woman who supported the project, citing the search for alternative energy is critical in light of global warming. (One individual accused her of being one of the 'sell-outs' who have agreed to lease property to the company.)

"We're not a NIMBY municipality," said Coun. Marsh, noting that, even though the province passed new legislation regarding Renewable Energy Approval (REA) on Sept. 24, residents need to "send a message" to Queen's Park that it ignores people's rights.

Ralph Ruffo, a member of the new Manvers - Gone With the Wind group opposing the project, urged everyone to ramp up dialogue with the government now as, "once they're (turbines) up, they're not coming down."

"This is a bad thing. We need our government to work on our behalf, not against us," he said.

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Rick Johnson intends to take concerns raised during the meeting to Queen's Park.

"I live in this community. Of course I'm going to stand up for it," said Mr. Johnson, adding that, when the time comes for the public consultation portion of the project, which is mandated by the province, the Ministry of the Environment - which had been invited to the meeting but declined - will be in attendance.

He noted he has heard from people on both sides, from those concerned over noise and property values, as well as farmers who view the opportunity to house towers as part of their retirement income.

Mr. Johnson also pointed out that, under the REA, anyone can appeal the approval of a proposed renewable energy project - like Energy Farming Ontario's.

Laurie Gillis and John Harrison, both members of Wind Concerns Ontario, shared information relating to health issues that have cropped up at existing wind turbine projects, such as Shelburne, believed to be the largest producing project in Canada.

Ms Gillis said some of the health issues reported by those living near turbines include tinitus, hypertensive episodes, earaches, headaches and chest pains. These, she said, become worse during periods of high winds and are experienced more severely by individuals such as stay-at-home moms.

Mr. Harrison, who is a physics professor at Queen's University, shared his expertise in high frequency sound waves, noting the problem is not that the noise is heard on the air, but that is is felt in the body.

A wind speed of 20 km/hr produces 40 decibels of noise - the World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 30 - and a 15 km/hr jump in wind speed would increase levels to 50.

Ms Campbell said sound would not exceed 40 decibels; a level similar to that found in the average family's living room. She added the turbines will comply with regulations requiring they be no closer than 550 metres to a residence. The only way they would be closer is if a property owner agreed.

Mr. Harrison countered a more acceptable distance would be 1.5 kilometres, a distance recommended by experts in several countries, including the French Academy of Medicine and the US Acoustic Ecology Institute.

When asked if these distances could be incorporated in the project, company stakeholder Ingo Stuckman said it wouldn't be feasible. To address concerns, he said the turbines could be spread out further or the number reduced.

On the subject of property values, Ms Campbell noted that, according to MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), wind turbines have had no identified impact on property values. Consulting engineer Tom Wilen didn't know of any compensation being offered for property owners in the event their property values dropped.

Ms Campbell added the turbines will, however, have a positive impact for the municipality, creating permanent, long-term jobs - a turbine manufacturer could set up shop in Port Hope - although Mr. Wilen said these numbers had not yet been worked out.

Manvers - Gone With the Wind is planning more meetings to discuss the matter. Mr. Ruffo hopes to work with a similar group in Northumberland which has already secured a lawyer to fight a project proposed for Grafton.


Source: http://www.mykawartha.com/n...

SEP 29 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22419-opponents-of-wind-tower-project-speak-up-at-information-meeting
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