Wind farm op­po­nents gear up for le­gal tilt

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

In­dus­trial wind tur­bine op­po­nents in North Stor­mont and The Na­tion are back­ing a law­suit groups have launched against the On­tario en­vi­ron­ment min­istry for al­legedly fail­ing to pro­tect the pub­lic from noise caused by the power gen­er­a­tors.

A ju­di­cial re­view ap­pli­ca­tion has been filed against the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change (MOECC) in the Di­vi­sional Court in Toronto. The ap­pli­ca­tion al­leges On­tario reg­u­la­tions and di­rec­tives limit the amount of noise any res­i­dence in the prov­ince should have to tol­er­ate from a wind project.

If the projects were forced to ad­here to the new stan­dards, three quar­ters of the more than 200 pro­posed tur­bines in the prov­ince would be break­ing the rules, ac­cord­ing to Eric Gille­spie, the Toronto lawyer who filed the suit on be­half of con­cerned cit­i­zens.

“The Con­cerned Cit­i­zens of North Stor­mont are in com­plete sup­port of this le­gal chal­lenge,” said spokesper­son Mar­garet Benke. “Pro­tec­tion of the health and safety of well over 1,200 lo­cal res­i­dents is our main con­cern and we feel that the MOECC must be held to ac­count.”

“We fully sup­port this le­gal ac­tion,” said Julie Ler­oux, spokesper­son for Save the Na­tion. “By al­low­ing the con­struc­tion of the Eastern Fields project, ac­cord­ing to out­dated noise reg­u­la­tions, the MOECC would deny pro­tec­tion of health and well-be­ing for hundreds of lo­cal res­i­dents, for the next 20 years. We strongly feel that this is un­ac­cept­able.”

Save the Na­tion is fight­ing the Eastern Fields Wind Project lo­cated in The Na­tion and the Town­ship of Cham­plain.

In North Stor­mont, res­i­dents are try­ing to block Na­tion Rise Wind Farm.

Op­po­nents es­ti­mate that if de­vel­op­ers were forced to ad­here to new stricter noise lim­its, up to three-quar­ters of these tur­bines would have to be re­lo­cated or re­moved.

The op­po­nents say that the MOECC has ad­mit­ted pre­vi­ous guide­lines re­sulted in un­der­es­ti­mates of the noise at nearby homes. How­ever, with­out any ev­i­dence that this was nec­es­sary, the MOECC has al­lowed com­pa­nies pro­mot­ing at least five large-scale wind projects to ig­nore new gov­ern­ment guide­lines. The re­sult is hundreds of On­tario res­i­dents near these planned tur­bines could be liv­ing next to tur­bines that pro­duce noise out of com­pli­ance with gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions.

On its web page, Eastern Fields states: “There is no ro­bust ev­i­dence that wind tur­bines af­fect peo­ple’s health. Over 60 sci­en­tific ar­ti­cles from around the world have been writ­ten about the im­pact of wind tur­bines on health, with no ev­i­dence to sup­port a link to date. With thou­sands of tur­bines al­ready in­stalled in Canada alone, what has been ob­served in some sit­u­a­tions is that wind tur­bines can cause ‘an­noy­ance’ for a small por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion.”

The com­pany adds: “An­noy­ance can be short-lived or long-term and can, in some cases, lead to other symp­toms such as stress. In­ter­est­ingly, an­noy­ance is more of­ten re­lated to vis­ual im­pact than to noise. Con­sul­ta­tion, care­ful sit­ing and ad­her­ence to noise and dis-

tance set­backs all min­i­mize the risk of an­noy­ance.” EDP Re­new­ables is seek­ing ap­proval to be­gin con­struc­tion of the Na­tion Rise Wind Farm in 2019.

If it goes through, al­most 1,200 ru­ral res­i­dences could be af­fected, cau­tions the Con­cerned Cit­i­zens of North Stor­mont, a group that is wor­ried about the health im­pli­ca­tions posed by noise and vi­bra­tions cre­ated by the tur­bines.

“Wind en­ergy projects have the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate en­vi­ron­men­tal noise which un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances may rep­re­sent an an­noy­ance to some sur­round­ing res- idents,” EFP notes on its web page. “As with any wind en­ergy project un­der­taken in On­tario, a noise study will be con­ducted to min­i­mize these ef­fects.”

The 100-megawatt Na­tion Rise Wind Farm would be built on about 22,000 acres owned by 40 landown­ers who have signed agree­ments with EDP Re­new­ables.

A to­tal of ap­prox­i­mately 45 to 50 wind tur­bines will be erected; the num­ber will be deter­mined by the tur­bine model and its generation ca­pac­ity.

Dec­la­ra­tions that The Na­tion and North Stor­mont were “un­will­ing hosts” did not pre­vent the In­de­pen­dent Elec­tric­ity Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor (IESO) from ap­prov­ing the plans.

PROTEST: Groups such as Save The Na­tion are tak­ing their fight against wind power de­vel­op­ments to court.

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