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Wind event draws crowd

With the very audible rapid whirring of two ceiling fans overhead a constant reminder of the issue, about 500 people jammed into the centre to learn more about proposed industrial wind turbines in the area. Ward 16 Coun. David Marsh told the audience he was holding the town hall meeting as a means to get clarification from the private company Energy Farming Ontario about its intention to build up to 30 of the turbines. He also raised concern that the provincial government's new Green Energy Act ...removes residents' and the city's right to appeal the towers going in to their neighbourhoods.

-Ontario is not forcing people to accept wind turbines on their property, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes- Brock MPP Rick Johnson has noted after a raucous town hall meeting at the Manvers Community Centre on Monday night.

Johnson made the point to The Lindsay Post the next day, observing, "People can say no."

He added, however, "You could see the frustration in people last night."

With the very audible rapid whirring of two ceiling fans overhead a constant reminder of the issue, about 500 people jammed into the centre to learn more about proposed industrial wind turbines in the area.

Ward 16 Coun. David Marsh told the audience he was holding the town hall meeting as a means to get clarification from the private company Energy Farming Ontario about its intention to build up to 30 of the turbines. He also raised concern that the provincial government's new Green Energy Act, while intended to protect people during the construction of turbines, removes residents' and the city's right to appeal the towers going in to their neighbourhoods.

The area includes land south of Lifford Road, west of Porter Road, north of Telecom Road and Drum Road, east of Manvers-Scugog Townline and south of Gray Road.

The... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

-Ontario is not forcing people to accept wind turbines on their property, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes- Brock MPP Rick Johnson has noted after a raucous town hall meeting at the Manvers Community Centre on Monday night.

Johnson made the point to The Lindsay Post the next day, observing, "People can say no."

He added, however, "You could see the frustration in people last night."

With the very audible rapid whirring of two ceiling fans overhead a constant reminder of the issue, about 500 people jammed into the centre to learn more about proposed industrial wind turbines in the area.

Ward 16 Coun. David Marsh told the audience he was holding the town hall meeting as a means to get clarification from the private company Energy Farming Ontario about its intention to build up to 30 of the turbines. He also raised concern that the provincial government's new Green Energy Act, while intended to protect people during the construction of turbines, removes residents' and the city's right to appeal the towers going in to their neighbourhoods.

The area includes land south of Lifford Road, west of Porter Road, north of Telecom Road and Drum Road, east of Manvers-Scugog Townline and south of Gray Road.

The contentious issues for most people who spoke were the potential health problems for neighbours living close to turbines, the noise, and the impact on property values. After a question and answer session, most of the objections turned on the setback permitted by the new legislation. The company can build no closer than 550 metres to a neighbouring house.

A property owner who allows Energy Farming to build on his or her land can permit a smaller setback.

Information from John Harrison of Wind Concerns Ontario showed that the minimum setbacks in Europe are about 1.5 kilometres.

Spurred by a question from the audience, Energy Farming co-owner Ingo Stuckmann said, "If we had a 1.5 kilometre setback, we wouldn't find any space." His comment was met with cheers.

Johnson told The Post prior to the meeting that the setback was determined through a consultation process, adding that they are the largest mandated setbacks in North America.

Johnson reassured questioners at the meeting that all regulations concerning wind farms have to comply with the Oak Ridges Moraine Act, protecting that green belt. He added that no one from the Ministry of Environment was at the meeting because it is an information session. He said when the mandated public consultations are held for any wind turbines, the MOE would be present. He also said that either he, or someone from his office, will attend.

Asked by an audience member whether he will go to Queen's Park and stand up for the people in the community, he replied: "I live in this community. Of course I'm going to stand up for it."

Johnson said many people have been calling his office with a variety of points of view, including farmers who want the turbines on their properties as retirement income.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has endorsed green energy efforts, but warns its members to be vigilant when signing contracts with wind farm companies. Its 30 points of advice are available at www.ofa.on.ca/index. php?p=77&a=106 3  .

The Q&A session sparked the most emotion from the crowd, with many voicing frustration at the lack of specifics from Energy Farming. Asked whether the company would compensate property owners if the value of their land goes down, Stuckmann said people affected would be within a kilometre of the turbines, which he estimated would be no more than 100 people. He said he would talk to them and find a solution, but did not say specifically if there would be compensation.

Marsh clarified that so far neither the company, the province, nor MPAC have offered to aid impacted landowners.

On Tuesday, Johnson told The Post that he was asked by a member of the audience how much money the city stands to make from commercial taxes on the turbines and any electricity royalties. The individual wondered whether the city would pass along property tax reductions to residents impacted by the turbines in light of the city's potential financial gain.

Pressed by the audience on who the principals are of the company, Stuckmann said he was one principal. Questioned further after the meeting by The Lindsay Post, he said there were two principals of the company. He identified the second one as Kelly Campbell, who was introduced to the audience as the company's project manager.

Stuckmann also had Todd Wilen with him, a consulting engineer for Energy Farming. Asked by The Post, Wilen said his independent company is called Gigawatt Consulting. He would say only that it is based in the United States, but would not give a city or state. He acknowledged that he has worked with the company before but not in Canada. He would not provide more details, saying it was not relevant to the context of this meeting. Campbell had made a presentation to the audience on the phases for the project and said it would bring full-time jobs to Ontario. Pressed for specifics by an audience member, Wilen said those numbers have not been calculated.

Stuckmann told The Post the company is new and has not done wind farms in Ontario before.

Asked by a woman who has a heart condition what effect the turbines could have on heart pacers and fetal monitors, Stuckmann said he wasn't familiar with any studies. "I simply don't know."

Asked by the audience how the company could afford the millions of dollars needed to build the turbines, Stuckmann said they are looking for local investors.

"This was a very biased meeting," he told The Post. He said he knows turbines can have health and sound issues, but if people can't sleep at night, then he will be in trouble and the MOE could shut them down.

According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the noise issue is from old turbines, not new ones. It also states that there is no scientific basis to opponents' claims that the turbines emit infrasound. Provincial guidelines permit the turbines to emit 40 decibels. However, Harrison said the World Health Organization has set 30 decibels as the limit for a good night's sleep.

More information on what the association terms myths about wind turbines is available at www.canwea.ca/wind-energy/myths_e. php .

The OFA wrote to Minister of Environment John Gerretsen in May regarding a wind project in Dufferin County. Residents were suffering, OFA president Bette Jean Crews wrote, not from the turbine but because of the sound from a transformer substation built to connect the wind plant to the transmission system.

Other speakers at Monday's meeting included Ralph Ruffo from the newly formed Manvers - Gone with the Wind group that is fighting the project, and Laurie Gillis from Wind Voice. One audience member spoke in favour of wind power as a means of combatting global warming, but she didn't receive much support. A handful of councillors and the mayor were also in attendance. Marsh said he held the meeting because Energy Farming had treated his constituents like second class citizens at its public meeting in August. He said he would take the concerns back to council. On Tuesday, Johnson acknowledged to The Post that using Crown land instead of private land is an option that might lessen the tensions surrounding wind farms. "That's a valid question." He said so far no private company has come forward to ask.


Source: http://www.thepost.ca/Artic...

OCT 2 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22459-wind-event-draws-crowd
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