200 Residents pack information session hosted by The North Gower Wind Action Group
The proposed Marlborough Farm Industrial Wind Turbine Complex project came under close scrutiny last week.
The North Gower Wind Action Group hosted an information session at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Hall in North Gower on Tuesday, April 13, which focused on the local project as well as the future of wind power.
Around 200 residents attended the session. They heard a series of speakers who had serious concerns about the health effects due to the close proximity of wind turbines to residences. Another concern was that property values would take a nose dive should the wind turbines be built too close to villages and homes.
The Chair of the North Gower Wind Action Group, Gary Chandler, was happy with the turnout.
“It went very well,” he said. “This was an opportunity to tell our side of the story to residents.”
The wind turbine project is headed up by Prowind Canada who is based in Kemptville. Prowind already has the green light to build wind turbines in Brinston in South Dundas.
The Turbine complex planned for the North Gower area includes eight to 10 towers, over 450 feet tall and weighing around 600,000 pounds each. According to the original plans, the setback used by Prowind to separate homes from the land the towers are located on is 500 meters.
The action group feels that health and property value issues have been ignored by the provincial government.
Chandler pointed out that the speakers at the meeting were not against the idea of wind turbines but felt that they were being planned too close to homes.
While the meeting was billed as an information meeting, Bart Geleynse, the project manager for the wind turbine project, felt that the information was one-sided. Representatives of Prowind Canada were not asked to speak at the meeting, however the company did follow it closely.
“We would have liked to be part of the panel,” said Geleynse.
The panel was made up of a retired Queen’s University physics professor, Dr. John Harrison who talked about the noise factor. In a press release from the action group he stated, “Ontario is alone in the world with its regulations on the noise from the turbines.” Dr. Harrison commented that the current planned setback from home of 550 meters was not enough.
The setbacks in Europe are 1.2 to 5 kilometers from homes. Dr. Harrison feels that the noise and vibration from the turbines could affect the health of the people living nearby.
According to Geleynse the setback for wind turbines is affected by the need for the turbine to be located near to the electrical infrastructure of the area.
“You have to be willing to look at the bigger problems and issues,” said Geleynse, referring to the issue of climate change and coal produced electricity.
The issue of property value loss was brought up by speaker, Chris Luxemburger who is a realtor from the Brampton area. He said that turbines were just like gravel pits and dumps near homes in that they drove the value of property close by down. Home owner Stephana Johnston from Long Point, Ontario told the people at the meeting that her community had suffered various health issues once their wind turbines were put up. Her area has 18 wind turbines in place. Geleynse said that the advantages of wind turbines over coal fired plants in Ontario made wind turbines the better choice. He said that the provinces Green Energy Act encouraged communities to look for alternate ways of producing electricity.
There are several challenges a wind turbine project has to overcome. One of them is getting the Ministry of the Environment to approve the project and a second one is to have Ontario Power Authority issue a contract to take any electricity the turbines can produce. At the moment, Prowind Canada has not received approval from the Ministry of the Environment nor do they have a contract with Ontario Power Authority.
Ottawa Councillor Glenn Brooks was at the meeting in North Gower.
“I brought a motion forward last year to the council asking for an 18-month moratorium on the project,” said Brooks. His idea was to give the city the time to do the research about wind power and to give residents time to understand what the project was all about. “The city did not support that motion even though Prowind and the North Gower Action Group had no problems with it,” he said. “The motion would have looked at health issues and the impact on property taxes in the area close to the wind turbines.”