Published – Jul 15th, 2009 By Ben Forrest Exeter Times Advocate
VARNA – A committee consisting of most Municipality of Bluewater councillors voted Monday to support the notion of a study into the health impacts of wind energy developments.
The decision was made at Bluewater’s July 13 planning committee meeting, and was a response to a request from the Huron County Federation of Agriculture (HCFA) that Bluewater and other municipal councils support two resolutions passed June 22 by the HCFA board of directors.
The first resolution supported an epidemiological study into the health impacts of wind energy projects.
The second asked that municipalities enact a moratorium on commercial wind energy projects until the epidemiological study is completed.
As reported in last week’s Times-Advocate, Bluewater council decided at its July 6 meeting not to enact a moratorium because it has a wind turbine bylaw in place, and the bylaw is under review by the Ontario Municipal Board.
Council delayed a decision on whether to support the first resolution until July 13, but the notion of a health study met with no opposition from the councillors present for Monday’s meeting.
“I think it’s pretty generic, and I think we can support it,” said Coun. Jim Fergusson before making a motion that council lend its support.
“I don’t know that the province is going to put any significance to our support,” he said. “They’ve said they’re going to take (control) away from us, and they’re going to do what they want to do.”
The statement was an allusion to the Ontario government’s Green Energy Act (GEA), which will introduce province-wide regulations for renewable energy projects, overruling municipal bylaws.
Mayor Bill Dowson said council could do its part, however, and Fergusson agreed.
Deputy Mayor Dave Johnston seconded the motion, and council passed it unanimously.
Stanley East Coun. Peter Walden was absent from Monday’s meeting for health reasons.
HCFA director Wayne Hamilton attended the meeting, and suggested afterward that the epidemiological study would entail a “complete cause and effect” analysis of the effect of wind projects on humans.
He stressed that the the HCFA is not against wind energy – “that’s the first and final point,” he said.
“We want to see it proceed, but … I think most farmers would agree that they want to do it right the first time, not have to come back and revisit it.”
Hamilton said he understood where Bluewater was coming from when it decided not to enact a moratorium.
“It’s probably expected that’s what they would have to say, given what they’re into as far as a bylaw,” he said. “They’re already into that. If I was in their position, I’d have to say the same thing.”
Hamilton the next step for the HCFA will be to “build on the base.
“The base is agreement on a health study, and you go from there,” he said.
“We have to represent both sides: those who are landowners who want (wind turbines), and those who are landowners who don’t,” said Joe Vermunt, a representative of the HCFA and Ontario Federation of Agriculture who also attended Monday’s meeting.
“I think most landowners want to participate in a project,” said Hamilton, “but they just want it done right.”