By Luke Hendry, Belleville Intelligencer
Prince Edward County’s mayor-elect has reaffirmed his opposition to wind turbines in the county, saying he wants to renew talks with the province.
Peter Mertens was one of 110 delegates at a Picton symposium organized by the Society for Wind Vigilance.
He said there must be more discussions about the potential health impacts of generating wind energy. Mertens said concerns cited during the symposium weren’t entirely new to him, but others need to hear the details. “I think the information is compelling,” Mertens said Sunday by telephone.
“We have to take the politics out of this now and we have to get the science to the forefront.”
During his recent mayoral campaign, Mertens proposed a moratorium on turbine construction in the county.
“There are a lot of advocates and I respect their position at this point,” said Mertens.
“A lot of them have taken that position without truly understanding the facts that were presented here,” he said.
Mertens said the new county councillors will have to determine their position. He said he wants to resume lobbying the province and “at least put a hold on (turbine construction) until some of these things are answered.”
Prince Edward County councillors passed a December 2008 motion asking public agencies to research further the effects of wind turbines and establish guidelines for the turbines’ placement.
“We passed a law, and the law does not create an opportunity for municipalities to resist these projects just because they may have a concern,” he said.
Smitherman told The Intelligencer the Green Energy Act makes progress on addressing health concerns.
“The Ministry of Environment has responsibility for taking all of that information which is available into consideration.”
He said setbacks between homes and turbines will be greater than those elsewhere.
“That is an acknowledgment that we need to make sure the setbacks are appropriate and established based on good evidence,” said Smitherman.
Mertens said the province’s position hasn’t changed but he remains hopeful more talks will occur.
“We’ve got to get our new council in place and see just how wide the support against turbines is on council.”
Discussion of health concerns has been at a “low level,” Mertens said, and that must change.