By PAUL MORDEN, Sarnia Observer
The town of Plympton- Wyoming is asking Ontario to halt wind farm projects until it studies their impact on the health of people living nearby.
Mayor Lonny Napper said town council passed a motion last week calling for the provincial government to impose a moratorium until “a comprehensive, independent and peer-reviewed scientific study can confirm that industrial wind energy sites do not post a risk to community health and environment concerns.”
He also wrote to Sarnia- Lambton MPP Bob Bailey calling on Queen’s Park to give municipalities back some of the local control over wind generation projects that was lost when Ontario passed its Green Energy Act, he said.
“Our hands are pretty well tied at this point in time.”
Suncor Energy is seeking provincial approval to erect 29 wind turbines in Plympton-Wyoming and neighbouring Enniskillen Township.
The company has scheduled open houses in Camlachie, Enniskillen and Forest to discuss its plans.
Eric Erhard, a resident of O’Brien Road in Plympton- Wyoming, said he wants answers to his concerns about noise and shadow flicker from turbines, as well as the their impact on property values and migrating birds.
“Those kinds of things they haven’t really addressed to any-one’s satisfaction,” Erhard said.
Erhard said he’s not opposed to wind farms but he believes Ontario allows them to be built too close to human residences.
Setbacks here are one-third of what they are in European countries, he said.
“They’ve been doing wind turbines a lot longer than we have in Ontario and they’ve probably found out through trial and error that, probably, 2 kilometres is a good number.”
Erhard is also concerned about what wind turbines do to the rural skyline. “You’re going to see these things from a long way off, and they’re not visually attractive.”
Suncor spokesperson Victoria Barrington said the company is “in the beginning stages” of the project and doesn’t have a contract yet to sell the electricity generated.
“We are looking very much to engage with the community,” Barrington said.
She said a “rigorous” environmental study will be carried out “and we will be sharing that with the community.”
Suncor is a leader in renewable energy and wants to develop it responsibly, Barrington said.
“Where possible, we absolutely try to exceed requirements.”
Barrington said this month’s open houses will be the start of a longer public consultation process.
Napper said he’s heard from several residents with concerns about the Suncor proposal, along with several letters council received from Erhard.
Napper said he’s also spoken to people living near wind turbines who don’t have any complaints.
“It’s really confusing,” Napper said. “Everybody’s got their different views on them.”
That’s why a government commissioned study would be helpful, he said.
But Napper doesn’t believe the provincial government will listen to concerns about wind farms until they start coming from communities closer to Toronto.
“They don’t seem to listen to rural Ontario anymore,” he said.
The only wind turbines currently operating in Lambton County are in Lambton Shores, although a project is proposed for Dawn-Euphemia and Brooke- Alvinston townships.
The municipal council in Dawn-Euphemia asked the province to commission an independent health study before the Green Energy Act was passed and took planning approvals for wind farms out of municipal hands.
Open houses for Suncor’s Camlachie-Cedar Point Wind Power Project are scheduled for:
* May 18, at the Camlachie Community Centre;
* May 19, at the Enniskillen Township Hall;
* May 20, at the Royal Canadian Legion hall on Albert Street in Forest.
All three open houses run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.