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Wind tower opponents voice frustrations with lack of local details

Residents attending a meeting called by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh didn't mince words when expressing their frustration and concerns over wind turbine projects proposed for the Bethany and Pontypool areas. ...a number of people left the Manvers Community Centre when representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Infrastucture spoke, while others interrupted the presentation to express their anger and frustration with the process.

(BETHANY) Residents attending a meeting called by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh didn't mince words when expressing their frustration and concerns over wind turbine projects proposed for the Bethany and Pontypool areas.

More than 250 individuals, including those from the Cavan area who only recently learned projects were being considered for their neighbourhoods, listened patiently while speakers - including Coun. Marsh, local MPP Rick Johnson and Manvers Gone With the Wind group chairperson Dave Bridges - shared their views on the project.

However, a number of people left the Manvers Community Centre when representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Infrastucture spoke, while others interrupted the presentation to express their anger and frustration with the process.

A provincial announcement on April 8 officially stated three projects have been proposed by Energy Farming Ontario Inc. - Settlers Landing Wind Park and Snowy Ridge Wind Park - but residents have been expressing concerns over the proposed projects since last fall.

Key issues individuals have voiced include the adverse health affects - residents living near... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

(BETHANY) Residents attending a meeting called by Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh didn't mince words when expressing their frustration and concerns over wind turbine projects proposed for the Bethany and Pontypool areas.

More than 250 individuals, including those from the Cavan area who only recently learned projects were being considered for their neighbourhoods, listened patiently while speakers - including Coun. Marsh, local MPP Rick Johnson and Manvers Gone With the Wind group chairperson Dave Bridges - shared their views on the project.

However, a number of people left the Manvers Community Centre when representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Infrastucture spoke, while others interrupted the presentation to express their anger and frustration with the process.

A provincial announcement on April 8 officially stated three projects have been proposed by Energy Farming Ontario Inc. - Settlers Landing Wind Park and Snowy Ridge Wind Park - but residents have been expressing concerns over the proposed projects since last fall.

Key issues individuals have voiced include the adverse health affects - residents living near existing wind towers have reported such problems as difficulty sleeping, cardiac issues, tinitus and behaviour changes, including depression - impact on the environment and property values. Concerns have also been raised regarding the virtual elimination of local government in the approval process.

"We are the people who represent you and we've had our ears to the ground," said Coun. Marsh, adding that process has worked "quite well" up until this issue.

He explained the application process, as set out under the Renewable Energy Act essentially places the onus on the companies to plead their case to the province, without any accountability to residents or municipal government.

Coun. Marsh's concerns were echoed by a number of individuals, including Ian Hanna who has launched a judicial review of sections of the Green Energy Act relating to a proposed wind tower project in his hometown of Big Island. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30 and, if successful, the company overseeing the Byron Wind Development would lose its approval for the project and could ultimately halt other provincial projects. This news drew a standing ovation from the crowd.

The crowd also supported comments made by Mr. Bridges, who spoke, and also presented video and a slide show, demonstrating the negative impact of wind towers. He talked of the impact construction of the multi-ton turbines on, not just the environment and landscape, but also existing infrastructure. Many local roads are already in poor condition and many others would not support the weight of heavy equipment travel.

Several in the audience audibly expressed their lack of support for Mr. Johnson, who said, he too, was frustrated and "pissed off" by the lack of details being shared at this point.

However, he said he expects this problem will be rectified as the process moves forward. This was not well-received by some in the audience. Neither was his comment that "he is legally unable to interfere with the process" but will do his best to ensure the process is "open, fair and accountable."

According to Christopher Quirke, team leader from the renewable energy facilitation office, the first of at least two consultation meetings will take place at the planning stages of the approval process; which is still some time away. Coun. Marsh later said he had been told by an Energy Farming representative that the company plans to hold a public meeting in June. Mr. Quirke continued that, before the final review of applications can be made, the proponents must publish information responding to concerns and issues raised and also hold a final consultation meeting.

Mr. Quirke admitted that, had the current process been in place, the existing wind tower project on Wolf Island would have seen only 30, instead of roughly 120, turbines erected.

But Mr. Hanna cautioned attendees not to put total faith in the process.

"Understand, this is a developer-driven process," said Mr. Hanna, explaining the companies will commission their own reports, such as environmental studies, as opposed to securing independent consultants, such as a medical health clinician to conduct a review of adverse health effects; something which the local council and more than 40 other municipalities have requested. (A report by the Chief Medical Officer of Health based on a review of previously reported documentation, did not support concerns over adverse health affects.)

Mr. Hanna encouraged residents to "appeal, appeal, appeal" any decision approving local projects. (Unfortunately, noted Coun. Marsh, the new act prevents municipalities from launching an appeal.)

Although Mr. Johnson urged residents, in the time leading up to a decision, to create a "paper trail" to the provincial ministry, ensuring their concerns are being expressed and documented, he also asked they be patient and give the process time.

"I have faith that the process will work," said Mr. Johnson.

But Manvers Gone With the Wind member Heather Stauble isn't convinced.
"If it was a tried and true process, and it had a track record, we might be more willing to give it a chance," she said, adding, judging from comments made at the meeting - which included one Cavan resident suggesting civil disobedience as an alternative - she's not alone.


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

MAY 21 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26405-wind-tower-opponents-voice-frustrations-with-lack-of-local-details
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