By Brian Shypula, Stratford Beacon Herald
Fallout over wind turbines seems to be blowing farther inland. Local opponents of the giant industrial wind turbines have organized a public meeting in Stratford for Dec. 16.
“I don’t think the provincial government or the companies involved have done a very good job talking about all the issues,” said spokesperson Dean Trentowsky of West and East Perth Against Turbines (WEPAT).
The main concerns are negative health effects on people and farm animals living near the turbines and their impact on farmland and property values.
“It’s more than just planting a turbine out in the field. It’s all the other amenities that are required to deliver the power from the turbine to the electrical grid,” Trentowsky said of the need to build transmission systems.
“It will be an imposition, I think, on public land as well as private land and it’s my belief there hasn’t been enough discussion in a fair and reasonable manner about that,” he said.
The fledgling group is bringing several guest speakers including Dr. Robert McMurtry, former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario. McMurtry has been calling for an independent study into health effects from wind turbines since November 2008.
Also speaking will be Carmen Krogh, a former director of pharmacy with Edmonton General Hospital, who is studying health effects linked to wind turbines and their proximity to homes.
Farmer David Collings will talk about the presence of stray voltage on homes and farms he tests in the Ripley area near new turbines. In a media release, WEPAT said Collings has found higher than normal levels of electricity in the homes because transmission lines are located too close to lines leading into the homes. Residents were displaying symptoms of electrical hypersensitivity such as dizziness, ringing in their ears, fatigue, headaches, feelings of pins and needles and burning sensations.
The audience will also hear a testimonial from a “victim” of industrial wind turbine development.
Trentowsky said the group sent and invitation to Perth-Wellington MP John Wilkinson, Ontario’s Environment Minister, and hopes he attends.
The hot-button issue has been relatively quiet in Perth County after some rumblings in the summer of 2009 when Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Americas held a meeting in Brodhagen to introduce the company and its proposal for a wind farm between Perth Lines 44 and 55.
Trentowsky said people thought RES had moved on to “greener pastures,” when the Monkton office closed a few months later.
However, door-to-door canvassing in West Perth and Perth East by RES representatives over the summer and then the construction in September of a test tower on Line 44 just east of Bornholm reignited concern, he said. “That’s been the catalyst.”
WEPAT formed three weeks ago.
Trentowsky said WEPAT is trying to ensure that land owners don’t blindly enter into contracts with energy companies without knowing the facts about the industrial turbines, which stand more than 100 metres tall and reach nearly 150 metres at the tip of the blade.
WEPAT members made a presentation to West Perth council in late November.
“There is a lack of awareness of what is going on. The secrecy of lease signing has masked the community and has created great community upset,” member Tom Melady said in a story in the Mitchell Advocate.
Melady lives at RR 2 Dublin less than one kilometre from a industrial wind farm proposed in neighbouring Huron County. He’s also a member of Huron East Against Turbines.
“This is a difficult issue because it is one that is being promoted by the provincial government and the residents of the rural communities are suffering the implications,” he said.
Trentowsky’s mother Gloria said she remembers seeing her farm highlighted on a map showing potential wind turbine sites in Perth County at the meeting in Brodhagen. She’s against the turbines.
“They’re going to destroy our farmland, destroy our livelihoods,” said the cash cropper who farms between Lines 44 and 46 near Bornholm, not far from the test tower.
In recent wind developments: Grey-Bruce medical officer of health, Dr. Hazel Lynn has been asked by the local health unit to prepare a proposal for a study of the health effects of living near wind turbines.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller said he supports a call for a moratorium on wind farms pending a “proper” study into the health effects of giant turbines.
Miller, who chairs Parliament’s rural caucus, said he decided to step into the contentious debate to support his provincial counterpart Bill Murdoch, who has called for a halt to wind turbine developments until an independent review is conducted into health-impact claims.
“We all know that at least 75% of the power produced by wind farms in rural Ontario will be used in the GTA and other large cities to the south of us,” Miller wrote in a letter to the Owen Sound Sun Times.
“If (Premier Dalton) McGuinty is so hell-bent on providing Toronto with wind-generated power, I urge him to build a couple hundred wind turbines on the waterfront in plain view of those million-dollar condos that look out onto Lake Ontario. He could save hundreds of millions of dollars in transmission line costs, but more importantly, he would definitely hear the squeals of indignation from our urban cousins over the placements of turbines in their’ backyard. Maybe then he would listen to the people of rural Ontario.”