Article

Residents split on wind farms

Opinions varied as much as the wind during a special council meeting on industrial wind turbines at the Prince Edward Community Centre Tuesday evening. Nearly 300 crowded the hall, with more than 30 people taking the podium for 10-minute deputations. With the legislation of the Ontario Green Energy Act in May, municipalities now have little power in the decision of allowing wind turbine projects to proceed.

Opinions varied as much as the wind during a special council meeting on industrial wind turbines at the Prince Edward Community Centre Tuesday evening.

Nearly 300 crowded the hall, with more than 30 people taking the podium for 10-minute deputations.

With the legislation of the Ontario Green Energy Act in May, municipalities now have little power in the decision of allowing wind turbine projects to proceed, but Mayor Leo Finnegan said Tuesday's public meeting was important if Prince Edward County wants a voice in the process.

There are currently 16 projects, including more than 335 turbines, in various planning stages across county land and water.

Finnegan said comments from the meeting would be forwarded to the province for review.

"The latest information I have on the Green Energy Act is that the province is prepared to listen to municipalities so that we may have some say in the citing of these projects, in terms of their potential locations," he said. "The province has uploaded responsibility from the municipalities back to the province, but we would still like to have some input on the citing of projects."

While public meetings at the community centre often become vocal, last night's... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Opinions varied as much as the wind during a special council meeting on industrial wind turbines at the Prince Edward Community Centre Tuesday evening.

Nearly 300 crowded the hall, with more than 30 people taking the podium for 10-minute deputations.

With the legislation of the Ontario Green Energy Act in May, municipalities now have little power in the decision of allowing wind turbine projects to proceed, but Mayor Leo Finnegan said Tuesday's public meeting was important if Prince Edward County wants a voice in the process.

There are currently 16 projects, including more than 335 turbines, in various planning stages across county land and water.

Finnegan said comments from the meeting would be forwarded to the province for review.

"The latest information I have on the Green Energy Act is that the province is prepared to listen to municipalities so that we may have some say in the citing of these projects, in terms of their potential locations," he said. "The province has uploaded responsibility from the municipalities back to the province, but we would still like to have some input on the citing of projects."

While public meetings at the community centre often become vocal, last night's crowd was well behaved with no jeering of the speakers.

Both sides presented technical information for and against the development of wind farms in the county.

Naysayers pointed to a litany of ill effects including health risks, loss of county charm, declining property values and the negative impact on the local tourism industry and overall economy.

Supporters pointed to the need to develop renewable energy sources, citing the influx of new jobs projects would bring and an increase the municipal tax base.

While both sides agreed to disagree, the argument was simple for Elyse Platt, a first-year Queen's University student and her brother Gabe Platt, a Grade 12 student at PECI.

"What we're hearing is wind power will destroy the county economy or even worse, windmills are detrimental to our health. What were really hearing is 'No, my property value will drop,'" said Elyse. "It is easy to say you are for green energy but then oppose every opportunity that comes along with the excuse that particular form just isn't the solution."

Elyse said she lives near windmills now and feels no ill effects.

"I can see the Wolfe Island turbines from my residence window and I can tell you I sleep like a baby at night and am as healthy as a horse," she said. "I think these shallow arguments are covering the real issue and that is money."

Big Island resident Henri Garrand said the majority of people living on the island are against Skypower Corp.'s Byran Wind Project. Plans call for 66 turbines to be erected in Sophiasburgh and Hallowell, including nine on Big Island.

"Although I will be explaining the effects on Big Island of the Byran Wind Project, I am not doing so to create a NIMBY argument. Rather, I am using Big Island as an example of the harm that will be done throughout the county, unless municipal council and all residents resist such projects," he said.

"Given the size of Big Island, the turbines will completely change everyone's visual experience of the island, transforming it from a pasture to a semi-industrialized land scene. Since the negative effect will be especially noticeable to everyone crossing the causeway to the island, the implications for residential property values and further residential construction are easily predictable. Real estate studies not funded by the wind industry have reported average price differences of 20-40 per cent."

Dr. Robert McMurtry said little is know about the health effects of large turbines and the province has failed to engage studies to determine implications. McMurtry cited numerous studies citing potential health hazards surrounding windmills

"There is a strategy of denial," he said. "The one hope is the creation of a research chair(person) but that takes 18 months and nothing has been done yet."


Source: http://www.intelligencer.ca...

SEP 30 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22447-residents-split-on-wind-farms
back to top