By PEGGY ARMSTRONG, SUN MEDIA The Peterborough Examiner
About 500 people jammed into the Manvers Community Centre last night for an emotional meeting on proposed wind turbines in the area.
City of Kawartha Lakes Ward 16 Coun. David Marsh said he held the town hall meeting to get clarification from the private company Energy Farming Ontario about its intention to build up to 30 turbines.
He also raised concern that the provincial government’s new Green Energy Act, while intended to protect people during the construction of turbines, removes residents’ and the municipality’s right to appeal the towers going into their neighbourhoods.
The issues for most people who spoke were potential health problems for people living close to turbines, noise, and the impact on property values. After a question and answer session, most of the objections turned on the setback permitted by the new legislation.
The company can build no closer than 550 metres to a neighbouring house. A property owner who allows Energy Farming to build on his or her land can permit a smaller setback.
Information from John Harrison showed the minimum setbacks in Europe are about 1.5 kilometres.
Spurred by a question from the audience, Energy Farming co-owner Ingo Stuckman said, “If we had a 1.5 kilometre setback, we wouldn’t find any space.”
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Rick Johnson reassured questioners that all regulations concerning wind farms have to comply with the Oak Ridges Moraine Act, protecting that green belt.
Johnson said many have been calling his office with various points of view, including farmers who want the turbines on their properties as retirement income.
The question session sparked the most emotion from the crowd, with many voicing frustration at the lack of specifics from Energy Farming.
Asked whether the company would compensate property owners if the value of their land goes down, Stuckman said people affected would be within a kilometre of the turbines, which he estimated would be no more than 100 people. He said he would talk to them and find a solution, but did not say specifically if there would be compensation.
Marsh said the company and the province have not offered to aid impacted landowners.
Kelly Campbell, another principal with the company, told the audience about the phases for the proposed project and said it would bring full-time jobs to Ontario. Pressed for specifics by an audience member, Wilen answered that those numbers have not been calculated.
Stuckman said the company is new and has not done wind farms in Ontario before.
Asked by the audience how the company could afford the millions of dollars needed to build the turbines, Stuckman said they are looking for local investors.
He said he knows turbines can have health and sound issues, but if people can’t sleep at night, then he will be in trouble and the MOE could shut them down.
NOTE: Other speakers included Ralph Ruffo from the newly formed Manvers — Gone with the Wind group that is fighting the project, and Laurie Gillis from Wind Voice.