MOE Lawyer suggests residents should just wear earplugs or earmuffs

Dessert in Chatham  by Harvey Wrightman
The most notable problem for the Suncor and AG lawyers is their lack of technical background, and so they depend on the support staff to provide them with content. It easily leads to confusion for the lawyer. Most of us would be similarly affected. But, sitting in the gallery it is delightful to watch – after all, they are making more money than most residents. Let them earn it.

Wednesday morning was taken up with Ms. Frederika Rotter , affectionately known as “Freddy”, questioning Dr. Christoper Hanning, a sleep disorder specialist from the UK, via teleconference. Fortunately, he must not be from Northumbria, as I could actually understand him even with “speaker phone” connection.

In her questioning, Ms. Rotter  stated that Ontario Regulation 359/09 limits the maximum noise level to 40 dBA – to which Dr. Hanning quickly corrected her that no, the Reg. allows for up to 51 dBA if ground wind speed is 10m/s. Indeed, only NZ and Ontario use this “escalating scale” on the premise that ambient wind speed noise will “mask” wind turbine noise. This is a theory only and there is convincing evidence that lttle or no masking occurs. In any event, Ms. Rotter didn’t appear to understand the concept – Freddy remained confused on the point.
Discussing Dr. Pierpont’s study, Dr. Hanning stated that though it is a “case series” only, it is useful as it points at a direction for investigation. He noted that there are summations in it where he was not in agreement; however, it’s basic premise that people were being affected by the noise of wind turbines, remains.

From this, some of Ms. Rotter’s questioning harkened back to “witness qualifying” type of questions that went into his expertise in designing studies and his ability to assess and criticize studies done by engineers  –  specifically about noise reports done by others such as the Salford Study which is cited by the MOE for its wind turbine noise reg’s . Dr.Hanning said , “…you can equally criticize Leventhall for commenting on health effects.”

There was also discussion re: the 40 dBA limit on which Dr.Hanning made these points:

In Holland where residents of projects can literally, “turn off the turbines” when noise is too high, the level of annoyance drops significantly. The annoyance level drops significantly because the residents have this control. In a similar but different fashion, if residents receive financial compensation the stated level of  annoyance drops. He likened this to a drug that provides benefit to a patient, yet has noticeable side-effects. The patient will more than likely subvert his discomfort knowing that overall there is benefit for his health. However, in the case of noise from wind turbines this may be more of a “masking” effect as it is very likely that while the reported symptoms ( e.g.-sleep disturbance) may drop, the actual level of disturbance does not. So, the consequent negative health effects are still there, unmitigated and unattended to.
Talking about the merits of the A/CanWEA literature review into the health effects of living near wind turbines, Dr.Hanning noted that the National Health Service, UK had critiqued that study finding it had multiple shortcomings, in particular that it lacked input from an epidemiologist – which raises a question in my mind, “Why?” – perhaps it would be difficult to find an epidemiologist who would endorse the study’s conclusions?
Dr. Hanning drew attention to Pedersen’s studies of measured annoyance in wind projects. Ms.Rotter asked, “Is there a strong relationship? Is it every time?”  Dr. Hanning noted the dose-response relationship which the data presents. The effect is there and displays a clear correlation.  Ms.Rotter then suggested,on her own, that residents could wear “ear plugs or ear muffs” if annoyed by noise. To which Dr.Hanning replied that, “…ear plugs can cause harm themselves with ear wax build-up and infections.”

Yet again, a defense lawyer has tacitly admitted that there is harm from the noise of wind turbines and sought information for mitigation. This is very much a case of “cart before the horse” – determine the cause first, please and thank you.
Forging on, Freddy had all the audience enthralled with her anecdote about a “sleep apnea machine” that her husband uses and how noisy and disturbing it is for her. Without missing a beat, Dr.Hanning interjected, “…the noise isn’t near as loud as snoring!” Clearly he was enjoying the fun too. And graciously, Ms.Rotter laughed along with us. The questioning petered out after that – well, what comes next, strawberry ice-cream!?

19 thoughts on “MOE Lawyer suggests residents should just wear earplugs or earmuffs

  1. Ms.Rotter then suggested,on her own, that residents could wear “ear plugs or ear muffs”

    …. seriously?

  2. And to think our tax dollars are paying for this “Legal Luddite”!

    No wonder our governments are so ill advised!

    Tea and bickies all around?


  3. Why don’t these Ministers build there homes near the wind farms 550m, and then we would see if what they say is true.

  4. “The most notable problem for the Suncor and AG lawyers is their lack of technical background, and so they depend on the support staff to provide them with content. It easily leads to confusion for the lawyer.”

    Harvey makes a very perceptive observation about the lack of knowledge of these lawyers. However, I wouldn’t let them off so easily (by saying most of us would be in the same boat). With Suncor and the Province of Ontario as clients, these lawyers would have almost limitless financial resources and access to expertise, which they could have used to prepare for this case. They have no excuse for being so ill-prepared. They could have scheduled meetings with experts (to improve their knowledge) and charged it all to their clients !

    “Sue me if I’m wrong” (ha ha), but in my opinion, the “big shooters” from these big firms are often out of touch with their cases because they’ve had their minions do the grunt work for them.

    From my experience, good “small town” lawyers are often more on top of their brief because they personally get involved in all of the details, they make sure they understand the issues, and they know their clients well. I’d put Eric Gillespie in this camp (although I don’t know if he’s actually “small town”).

  5. Imagine the audacity to suggest that 1000’s of rural tax paying home owners just put on ear muffs as soon as they pull in the driveway from work! How about ear muffs for all the horses, cows, chickens, piggies , cats and dogs and your damn budgie too.
    Don’t give any to the mother-in- law though and she won’t stay so long!

  6. Yes Melodie – it is too bad we did not learn of this obvious solution so much earlier, just think of all the trouble it could have saved us. All those people would not have had to abandon their homes. Think of the money that could have been saved on these legal actions. The real message here is that the only people now entitled to live in rural Ontario are the ones that are okay with industrial wind turbines or those that can “get used to it”.

  7. Why should anyone be forced to were ear muffs and/or ear plugs so that their neighbours can make money off of IWTS!!!

  8. Bad enough that Ontario citizens must spend millions defending against their own government’s actions, they must also listen to unbelievable snotty putdowns. I suggest Tim Hudak may want to remind taxpayers of this remark come next Oct. The Marie Antoinette award goes to the aptly named Frederika Rotter.
    [caption id="attachment_21462" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Let them wear ear muffs"][/caption]

  9. Dear Ms Rotter,

    The Ontario Workplace Health and Safety Act makes it quite clear that the use of personal protective equipment (PPEs) is mandatory for all workers when a hazard is present in the workplace.

    By suggesting that affected neighbours (non-participant receptors) should resort to earmuffs, are you implying that a hazard exists in proximity to wind turbines? Aside from sheer arrogance, the implications of your remark, however flippant, suggest that. Not a disturbance, not an annoyance, but hazard to health and safety of residents.

    This is exactly what these experts at the Tribunal and the rest of us rural NIMBYs have been trying to tell you and the government for quite some time.

    I congratulate you on this admission although the rest of your legal team and your political mentors will certainly be advising you of how much damage this causes to your case.

    John Hare
    Pontypool Ontario

  10. Won’t we all look cute when it’s 33 Celsius and the humidy is 95 and we are all wearing earmuffs. Maybe at the next turbine meeting?

  11. Shoot BD, I could have worn them to the meeting in Alvinston tonight… if earmuffs do what the MOE suggest I wouldn’t have had to listen so much bloody garbage from the windies.

  12. Martin, you should re-print that as a poster for mass distribution. Too funny!

  13. John,

    Could you send that to the Ministry of Labour?

    Fantastic letter.

    Anyone who has had an employee get a speck of dust in their eye or had a passerby trip on a #8 screw, knows how much tolerance the MOL has for accidents. In their opinion, every accident is preventable, and it is the “due diligence” of the company to make certain the environment safe. How does the wind industry slip through these cracks?

    If they are suggesting PPE be administered, the windies are then responsible for training the public on how to use them. Does this mean we can face MOL fines for gardening without our earplugs????

  14. Boy. this is just about the most insulting attack yet. I know people who have worn ear muffs to bed and ear plugs and in most cases they don’t do a thing because of the low frequency but they at least relieve a little bit of the audible. It is a humiliating position to be put in and is not funny.

  15. I picture thousands of us at Queen’s Park wearing ear muffs. The press would love it. That poster of Marie Antonette should be on buttons and signs.

    THANK YOU MIZ ROTTER! You just gave us the key to open the doors of hell and unleash.. You might want to catch the next plane out of here…tonight!

  16. reference was to the Marie Antoinette analogy, certainly not to the torture inflicted upon people who have the misfortune of having these things in their backyards.

  17. How about some low frequency sound for those at Queen Park? How many would think it’s tolerable?

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