By Bill Henry, The Sun Times, owensoundsuntimes.com
Setbacks for wind turbines should be as much as twice the current 550 metres to avoid affecting so many people, Grey Bruce medical office of health Dr. Hazel Lynn said Tuesday.
But Lynn said she did not tell Huron-Kinloss council Monday night that further wind development should be stopped, as some media outlets reported Tuesday.
A news release circulated throughout Ontario Tuesday from The Society for Wind Vigilance said Lynn, on a local radio show, said she “thinks all industrial wind turbine development should be stopped until more is known about their effect on human health.”
“I didn’t say it like that,” Lynn said in a telephone interview clarifying her comments made at the Monday night council session. “What I probably said is we should have longer setbacks, and if you can’t have longer setbacks, well, then maybe we shouldn’t be having them (more wind turbine developments) right now.”
Lynn has been at odds with the Liberal government’s position on wind energy, and has said for several months that The Green Energy Act should not have taken away municipal planning control related to turbine developments.
“I’ve said that many times that the people who pay the land tax should have some say over what’s happening to their land. I’ve said that right from Day 1, this is wrong,” she said.
European research is ahead of that being done in Canada, she said, and minimum setbacks there are between 1.2 and 1.5 kilometres. That’s more than double the setbacks the government set as part of the Green Energy Act.
Europeans are concerned about low frequency sound waves, which are amplified in hilly terrain.
“Basically at this point in Canada, we’re not measuring those things,” she said. “To say that they can’t hear it so it doesn’t affect you isn’t quite true, probably.”
“I suggested to Huron-Kinloss that if I was making the decision — which I’m not — and if I was putting in more wind turbines, I’d want them at at least a kilometre or a kilometre and a half distance.”
In Europe, that setback is designed to reduce the impact so 5% of people are affected. In the Ripley area, Lynn said 10%, or about 35 people living within the wind development area, have said they suffer as a result of proximity to the turbines.
Lynn said she did not speak on a radio show, as the Society for Wind Vigilance claimed in its news release. She was interviewed briefly by a reporter at the council meeting Monday after raising concerns about what she considers inadequate setbacks and the loss of local control.
“I said basically I think we need longer setbacks until we can at least measure the low frequency sound.”
Lynn said her position is not at odds with Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.
“I don’t think she’s ever said anything about the setbacks, she’s just said there’s no direct health effect,” Lynn said.
“I wouldn’t say I’m at disagreement with the chief MOH. She reviewed the health effect literature and basically there’s not not much that you can say,” Lynn said.
“I’m looking at population and community interests and I don’t think it’s in any community’s well-being if you’ve got 10% of your people that are so stressed they just can’t do anything anymore,” she said.
With several large wind projects in the works in the area, Lynn said she raised her concerns about the setbacks out of consideration for the impact on communities.
“If we get another 10% from each of those, that’s going to be a lot of unhappy people.”