March 22, 2011

Haldimand Council carries resolution for moratorium on wind turbines

A Mayor with courage and integrity:

Haldimand Council carries resolution for moratorium on wind turbines.

May 26, 2010

“Learn how to cheat” reporter tells Ontario municipalities

With the Green Energy Act packing Ontario municipalities’ democratic rights and abilities to protect citizens in its pocket now, municipalities are struggling to find ways to get their planning powers back, where wind turbine installations are concerned.

As more developments are planned and built–the corporate wind developers have all but given up the pretense of community “buy-in”–concern grows due to health issues and property values.

One reporter in the Simcoe area has written the following opinion piece on the issue.

  • Chris Fell, Staff,
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  • May 25, 2010 – 4:36 PM
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  • Reporter’s Notebook

    Chris Fell.

    To say that opposition to industrial wind turbines invading our rural landscape is growing would be an understatement.

    Several municipalities in Grey and Bruce counties are now pondering the possibility of challenging the McGuinty government’s draconian Green Energy Act through the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

    I hope every municipality in both counties – including the counties themselves – get on board with this possibility. If they all combine their resources, a legitimate challenge is possible. There is strength in numbers and it has to happen now – before these industrial installations destroy our rural countryside.

    Since the Premier of Ontario demolished the land use planning rights of municipalities by passing the Green Energy Act, municipalities that want to preserve their rural landscapes and stop an industrial invasion of the natural environment must look for other options to stop these projects.

    Grey Highlands council has already tabled a road agreement that would allow the wind energy company that wants to put 11 turbines in the southern end of Osprey Township.

    This is exactly what local municipalities must do since their planning authorities were removed by the government.

    Municipalities must look at every bylaw, every provincial/federal statute and every other regulation on the books for ways to stop these projects.

    In layman’s terms: municipalities have to learn how to cheat. To use a more sporting term: they need to find some grey areas in the rule book.

    If turning down the road agreement stops the process – great. If municipalities are really serious about protecting their citizens they have to examine every single option available to them.

    Can special development charges for these proposals be implemented? Who will pay for their decommissioning in years to come?

    Can special building fees be implemented, for tighter controls over these kinds of things?

    Since the projects propose industrial uses in rural/agricultural areas perhaps a special “industrial road toll” can be put in place to ensure the municipality’s roads are kept in top shape.

    Are there old height restrictions on the books? Are there any bylaws on the books governing towers with moving parts (remember, small windmills used to be ubiquitous on family farms of years gone by)? Maybe there are even some old, hand-written bylaws from 1854 that are relevant.

    The point is, the province made this a dirty fight by quashing the planning authority municipalities are charged with. Those planning authorities were designed to be fair and to protect the public

    Mr. McGuinty shouldn’t be surprised when municipalities look under every rock, search through every file cabinet and read every bylaw book to find other ways to protect their citizens.

    January 2, 2010

    Why don’t we hear from the farmers?

    Simple. They’re not allowed to talk. Or, when they realize they’ve made a mistake and can’t get out of it, they don’t want to talk about it.

    The truth is, it’s only a certain percentage of people near wind turbine installations who are bothered by them, because many wind turbine installations have been sited properly, i.e., AWAY from people. Like Sault Ste. Marie. On the other hand, when you propose turbines within a kilometer of homes, especially a large number of them, you’re more likely to have trouble.

    We’ve been looking today at the Bornish project, another one from our friends at Florida Power and Light (say again? Why is a Florida power company in Ontario? For the MONEY) and it is shocking how a few landowners have forced their neighbours to live with dozens of wind turbines in a relatively small area. And they’re doing this to themselves! In one case, a turbine is situated 300 meters from a “participating” household. If you’ve read anything on the noise and vibration produced by wind turbines, you’ll know that’s just crazy: 550 meters isn’t enough, a kilometer distance isn’t enough, and two kilometers is just getting started … 300 meters? Unbelievable. Plus, one turbine is 115 meters from a roadway—that’s not safe!!

    You can see the maps of the Bornish project here:

    In other news, people from Ontario whose homes have had to be bought by the wind developers because they are now uninhabitable (the developers are claiming they need them for their workers) were invited recently to speak in Vermont.

    A reporter for The Chronicle in Barton, VT, did some more research and interviewed Helen Fraser of Melancthon (near Orangeville/Shelburne). “If I had advice for any municipality,” Ms. Fraser said, “it would be ‘Please, please, please do the research on the health effects before you consider destroying people’s lives.’ ”

    Yes, Ottawa, please. Ask for the research. Demand that the citizens of North Gower be protected. Even to protect the people who are just doing this for the money.

    To download the petition asking for health studies (not that we have Parliament just now), please go to our documents page, download it, sign it, and send it to the address at the bottom of the petition. Thank you.

    November 27, 2009

    …not where the people are

    The Sierra Club, whose motto is “Explore, enjoy and protect the planet” published its guidelines for siting industrial wind turbine developments quite some time ago, and they are worth a revisit if only to underscore the chief concerns of the effect of noise and the need to ensure safety.

    c. Visual/Scenic and Noise Impacts
    Visual impacts are highly subjective. The best way for Club activists to ensure minimal visual impact is to develop regional recommendations for places that wind should and should not be sited.

    Federal aviation rules require specific lighting on turbines of certain heights. This lighting should always be minimized for aesthetic reasons, unless specific lighting is shown to reduce bird or bat mortality. Evidence suggests that lighting increases rather than reduces bird mortality. As more study is done, it may be appropriate to seek modification of the Federal rules for the wind industry, in particular to reduce or eliminate the need for strobing, bright colors, and lights visible from the ground. Wind turbines might be assigned a unique warning light color which signals aviators, but also changes impact on bird behavior.

    We suggest that wind developers restrict their impact on involuntary neighbors to near-ambient noise levels at the closest residence. Legally binding mechanisms to guarantee sustained noise control should be considered.

    d. Safety
    Windmills have the potential to throw blades. Under storm conditions turbine blades can throw ice to considerable distances. Siting should take account of risks to humans as well as to biota.

    In the case of North Gower, where we are being treated like the Cinderella of Ottawa, the City should take steps to ensure that noise levels are not exceeded by wind turbine developments, particularly when the developer has deliberately chosen to site the turbines so close to so many homes. They are following the letter of the Green Energy Act requirements, of course, but the 550 meter setback is subject to question.

    Supporters of wind turbine developments frequently cite the numbers of wind turbines erected in Ontario and in other locations and then the numbers of people complaining, concluding that the majority of wind turbine sites cause no disturbances. That is true, but the defining factor is the location. Locating industrial structures that DO make noise close to homes makes no sense and guarantees problems from–and for– the “involuntary neighbours” in future.

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