The Huron County Federation of Agriculture will be visiting municipalities throughout Huron County asking them to follow Huron East’s lead by passing interim control bylaws on commercial wind energy projects within their borders.The federation’s directors discussed the current debate around wind turbine developments at their June meeting and passed two resolutions.
One was to request lower-tier municipalities in Huron to enact a moratorium on commercial wind energy projects pending results of an epidemiological study conducted into the health impacts of the specific infrastructure on residents living near such developments.
The other was to support the study.
President Wayne Black says he’ll be attending council meetings throughout Huron County to talk to councillors about their thoughts about wind projects.
Asking municipalities to enact a moratorium is basically asking for an interim control bylaw, similar to the one Huron East recently passed, he said.
“Huron East didn’t influence us to pass the resolution, but we are asking other municipalities to do the same thing Huron East did,” he said.
Mr. Black, who lives about seven kilometres from the EPCOR wind project in Kingsbridge, said that while he has brushed off arguments against wind turbines in the past as “a lot of NIMBYism and fear mongering,” recent health problems being experienced by farmers who live near wind turbines have him more concerned.
“People who are legitimately complaining live within one kilometre of the turbines. Outside that area, I haven’t heard any legitimate complaints,” he said.
Mr. Black said that with members who support and have signed leases for wind turbines and others who would never agree to a wind turbine lease, the federation has to be balanced about the issue.
While he has been getting e-mails from Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT), a group of St. Columban residents who have been expressing concerns about two wind projects planned for their area, he hasn’t had any direct contact with members, he said.
“The St. Columban situation was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If there were no wind turbines going up in Huron County, this wouldn’t be such a big deal with the Huron federation,” he said.
“We need better regulations to protect farm families.”
He said the farmer who presented the resolution said he didn’t want his children asking him in the future why he didn’t do something to influence the situation when he had the chance.
“It’s not today when we’ll see the immediate health problems but in 10 to 15 years when serious problems could crop up,” he said.
From the complaints received by the HFCA, it’s farmers who live and work on their farms 24 hours a day who are most affected, he said.
“The guys who work off-farm aren’t affected as much. The guy who’s there 24-7 — it gets to him.”
Mr. Black said that while the federation is not ready to approach the issue on a provincial level, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture at its June board meeting also supported a call from the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture “urging county federations, where they see it necessary, to seek a moratorium on wind energy projects with local governments pending results of an epidemiological study conducted into the health impacts of the specific infrastructure on residents living near such developments.”
In March, the Huron federation sent a resolution to the OFA regarding the study of potential health impacts of turbine developments.
As well, Mr. Black said the federation is planning to make a submission to the province as Green Energy Act regulations are determined.
By SUSAN HUNDERTMARK, Sun Media
3 July 2009