Dr. Robert McMurtry has some advice for municipal leaders fighting to block development of industrial wind turbines: do everything possible to delay the process until next October.
That’s when McMurtry, a former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, believes Ontarians will elect a new government, and local decision-making powers will be restored to municipalities.
Under the Liberals’ Green Energy Act, municipalities can do little to stop a development, he notes.
“Hire a good legal counsel who understands the options available that can hold up the process until after the election,” says McMurtry, who was one of the speakers last Thursday at a information meeting at the Arden Park in Stratford hosted by West & East Against Turbines, a small grassroots group of citizens who are concerned about the impact wind turbines place upon human health and the environment.
Perth-Wellington MPP and Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson did not attend last week’s meeting.
He said it is important that he remain impartial throughout the process.
“The Ministry of the Environment has the responsibility of approving or rejecting any renewable energy projects. It’s important for me that an application will be judged on its merits or lack thereof,” he adds.
The Ministry has taken control over future renewable energy projects because it’s the province, not the municipality, that has the legislative authority to shut down a project if it fails to meet regulation, says Wilkinson, who adds a project will not be approved unless the developer meets all requirements, including an “extensive consultation” with both the municipality and the public. “Though the province has the final say on these projects, we will say no,” he adds.
Wilkinson says applications and the Ministry’s final decision are each available for public review, and that anyone can appeal the Ministry’s decision or take the matter to court if they choose. “The process is designed so the public has a chance to say what their issues are,” he adds.
Since 2008, McMurtry has been calling for an independent epidemiological study into health effects from wind turbines. He says the province’s current regulations and standards do not protect people from the noise, both audible and inaudible, that is generated by a turbine. He claims government guidelines for noise levels and turbine setback distances are computer-generated, not based on scientific evidence.
He says the province has yet to produce any peer-reviewed evidence that show turbines are safe, adding, “There’s no doubt in my mind people are suffering adverse health effects.”
Wilkinson says the province’s regulations (a setback distance of 550 metres and noise not exceeding 40 decibels) are based on science and the recommendations from Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
McMurtry says a turbine is on average 22 per cent efficient, and that wind energy will never fully replace traditional energy sources. He would like to see the government invest more research into other sources, such as hydroelectricity, electric crystals and nano diamonds.