By Maria Canton, Owen Sound Sun Times
Georgian Bluffs councillors made a pre-emptive strike against wind energy developers and the province this week when they voted to freeze the issuing of any permits that could lead to the building of industrial wind turbines in their municipality.
Councillors voted 4-3 to pass a motion that supports Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hazel Lynn’s call for a third-party study of the health effects of wind turbines on people living near the structures.
There are no wind turbines in Georgian Bluffs and there are no applications before the township.
“The point we’re trying to make to the province is that we all maintain there needs to be a third-party study done on wind turbines,” Mayor Alan Barfoot said Wednesday night.
“Whether people are for or against wind turbines isn’t the issue, it’s the health related segment that is being discussed. What our council has done is supported that if there is a health concern, it needs to be brought forward and the only way we will ever know that is if a study is completed.”
It remains to be seen if the move to block turbine development will have any teeth as the township may only be authorized to issue building permits for the base portion of the turbine.
“We’ll just have to wait and see if we’re going to be challenged or not,” said Barfoot.
The issue of health concerns related to industrial wind turbines surfaced after several resident groups in Grey-Bruce who live near wind farms came forward complaining of similar symptoms, mainly related to the noise the machines make and in some instances the constant motion.
Lynn argued that even though the number of affected people may be small, it would be irresponsible to ignore their complaints.
Earlier this year she presented a report to the board of health outlining some areas where further study is needed, including determining what portion of people exposed to wind turbines suffer distress, whether some designs and technologies are more troublesome than others and how to reduce the social disruption of turbines.
However, Dr. Arlene King, the province’s chief medical officer of health, has already written a report on wind turbines that concluded, “The scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”