Northumberland group lobbies landowners against wind turbines

Northumberland Hills

Posted By Valerie MacDonald Northumberland Today

The Alliance for the Protection of the Northumberland Hills is asking recipients of its “Community News” mailer to help “change the minds of landowners who have, or are, planning to sign leases” with developers wishing to erect wind turbines.

“The two current highest risk areas for the industrial wind turbine installations are at Telephone Road east of County Road 23 and the area just east of (County Road) 45 behind Scenery Drive Restaurant,” the March newsletter states.

Alliance spokesperson Gwyer Moore says his committee has identified eight potential areas for turbines in these two areas which comprise about 800 acres on which wind turbines “could be placed according to government rules.”

These lands are part of a larger study area northwest of Grafton by wind farm developer Energy Farming Ontario Inc.

Moore says members of the Alliance have been going door-to-door with their message.

In addition to the warnings, the Alliance newsletter asks residents to support the group with financial donations and to voice their concerns by contacting a Grafton-area employee of Energy Farming Ontario, as well as calling directly to the Brighton office of the company at 613-475-0969.

Moore lives northwest of Grafton, on Grills Rd. in Alnwick/Haldimand Twp., within the study area of Energy Farming Ontario Inc. identified as Clean Breeze Wind Park. He and other Alliance members object to wind turbine farms primarily because of “noise… and property devaluation, ” he says. Other concerns that have been raised relate to possible adverse health effects and the financial liability of such wind farms.

Energy Farming Ontario held a public meeting last July in Grafton outlining its proposed plans to produce electricity from wind, as encouraged by the provincial government. The Notice of Commencement of an environmental screening review about the project can be found on its website (www.energyfarmingontario. c om ). It states that the company proposes to construct up to 20 wind turbines for up to 30 megawatts on agricultural lands it has leased.

Kelly Campbell, who describes herself as the sole director of Energy Farming Ontario since the resignation of Ingo Stockman last year as head of the company, told Northumberland Today on Tuesday that Energy Farming Ontario has enough leases signed to erect the towers it needs for the Grafton-area project should a decision be made to proceed. The number of such towers is “still undecided at this time,” Campbell said.

Once there is confirmation of connection from the Ontario Power Authority and a company decision to proceed, then another public meeting will be held, she said.

Earlier this month, 510 smaller power-generating projects (10 to 500 kilowatts) were given capacity allocation exemption by the Ontario Power Authority and the next group (up to 260 megawatts) is expected to be announced in April.

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The Alliance followed up the wind developer’s public meeting of last July with its own public information session. It brought in speakers talking about health, financial and noise concerns in other areas in which wind farms currently exist in Canada and elsewhere.

The Alliance’s recent newsletter warns property owners that signing a lease with a wind developer could mean they lose control over their property. This includes where roads and towers are situated, automatic renewals and being left with huge concrete infrastructure, if the project is abandoned in the future, the letter describes. It also states that the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation of a minimum setback of 550 metres doesn’t apply to wind turbines next to the lessor’s own homes and buildings.

When asked, Campbell said that is correct and a tower could be closer than 550 metres.

Lawyer Roger Carr, who lives near the local Energy Farming Ontario study area, is offering free legal advice to those who have signed a lease, or have been approached to, because of concerns he has with the technology and the potentially adverse effect of signing a lease without property legal advice.

Carr stresses he is doing this “pro bono.”

“This pits neighbour against neighbour, ” says Stu Herod, a 30-year resident of Alnwick/Haldimand and member of the Alliance.

He and his family live within the local study area for Clean Breeze Wind Park. Two issues concern him: the possible erosion of his rights and those of municipalities due to the provincial government’s Green Energy Act, reversing and “wiping out” environmental protections; and the devaluation of his property when a neighbour installs industrial wind farm towers that are higher than a 40-storey building, including the blades which are as long as a 747 jet.

Energy Farming Ontario’s website has a link to that of The Canadian Wind Association which addresses some of the concerns raised by the Alliance. One article quotes an international panel’s findings addressing health concerns (such as the noise, vibrations and electrical power from the projects) and another commissioned study in the Chatham-Kent area states that there is “no statistical evidence to demonstrate that wind farms negatively affect rural residential market values.”

Herod says that some property owners have successfully won assessment reductions based on the installation of wind towers. The Alliance’s newsletter warns area property owners “it may be very difficult to sell your farm or property with a wind turbine on it….”

vmacdonald@northumber landtoday.com

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4 Responses to Northumberland group lobbies landowners against wind turbines

  1. Sick Turbines says:

    Wow, some candid and accurate reporting happening. Thank you.

  2. Zen2then says:

    Be careful when a company says it has enough leases to go forward with a project. It can be used as pressure to get others to sign leases. Anyone who has not signed need to seek legal opinion and not to get pressured by thinking they will be surrounded anyway so why not. Recognize the long term liability of having wind turbines on your property and the risk of money loss overall. The company will have more rights to your property than you will. Do you want that? The more leases a company can get signed provides them with the flexibility to make a development work. If they have just enough there is a risk it may be too limiting if an issue has to be dealt with.

  3. MA says:

    Zen, your posts are always full of well-thought-out facts, explanations and advice. Thank you!

  4. Randy Cross says:

    I’m not a lawyer but im wondering about the culpability of the Ontario Government and the OPA in the legality of these leases…

    Without the massive government subsidies it is very unlikely that the Energy companies would not be offering these leases to the farmers..

    This would mean to me that it should be more difficult for the Wind Energy companies to claim damages from the farmers /landowners if the farmers/landowners decide en masse to breach the agreements….

    There are only damages because of the actions of our misguided governments and their subsidies… representing the citizens of Ontario….

    The political damage to the Ontario Government could also be large if there is a breach and they decide to support the Energy companies…

    Just wondering….

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