by ERICA BAJER, Chatham Daily News
The world’s leading experts on the impact of wind turbines on human health will blow into Chatham-Kent in February. The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal will hear an appeal of the approval of the Kent Breeze Wind Farm, an eight-turbine project slated for the Thamesville area.
Leading the appeal is lawyer Eric Gillespie, who is acting on behalf of Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. and area resident Katie Erickson. Gillespie said the wind farm became the first-ever approved under the province’s Green Energy Act in November.
“The primary ground (for the appeal) is that it appears to our clients, and the experts they are working with, that there will likely be serious harm to human health if the project proceeds,” he said.
“The primary issue is noise — both audible and inaudible.”
He said under the Act, a wind turbine’s minimum setback from a residential property is 550 metres. It’s a distance some experts believe is too small to protect people from harm.
Gillespie said the hearing is expected to be an unprecedented gathering of the world’s leading experts — giving evidence on all sides of the issue.
“This appears to be the largest single gathering of internationally renowned experts that has taken place on these issues,” he said.
Doug Desmond, of the wind action group, said experts are coming from all over the world including across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
“It will have international implications,” he said. “This is phenomenally important, it’s huge.”
“Given that this is the first approval and the first appeal under the Green Energy Act, many people believe it will establish a precedent for future appeals,” he said.
In a previous report, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment said the province’s approval process would be defended. As well, the ministry will table a consultant’s report on audible noise.
Construction at the wind farm has already begun.
Details of the February tribunal will be hammered out Tuesday during a pre-hearing at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.
Gillespie said anyone hoping to make submissions during the tribunal, which will also be held at the Civic Centre, should attend Tuesday’s pre-hearing.
The tribunal is scheduled to run for at least seven days — Feb. 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 15 and 16.