Government lawyer blasts opposition to wind farms

by Lee Greenburg, Ottawa Citizen

TORONTO — A government lawyer fighting off a major challenge to wind energy in Ontario says the foremost health impact complained about by detractors is not a medical condition at all, but a “fact of life.”

Frederika Rotter cast aspersions on the term “annoyance,” which opponents describe as a critical health condition caused by giant wind turbines, which emit noise that, they say, causes a number of other physiological effects, including sleep disturbance, headache, irritability, problems with concentration and depression.

“Annoyance doesn’t equal ‘serious harm to human health,’” Rotter told an Environmental Review Tribunal panel Thursday. “You could be annoyed by your neighbour’s screaming. Everyone suffers from annoyance.”

Eric Gillespie, a lawyer for an anti-wind group hoping to keep industrial wind farms out of the province, argued Thursday that the government didn’t adequately consider the adverse effects of wind turbines on human health.

The hearing is an attempt by Gillespie and the grassroots anti-wind organization he represents to appeal an eight-turbine wind farm run by Suncor Energy Services Inc. in southwestern Ontario known as Kent Breeze.

The project in Chatham-Kent is to be the first under Ontario’s Green Energy Act, the 2009 legislation designed to encourage wind, solar and other renewable energy projects in the province.

The legislation is lauded by environmentalists but has stirred controversy in rural communities, which, under the new law, have lost the power to determine where the massive turbines will be placed.

While wind energy is generally supported from afar, it generates substantial opposition in host communities. The Green Energy Act was designed to combat that NIMBYism by centralizing the decision-making process.

A large group of angry rural residents joined together in response and funded the current case against Kent Breeze.

While Gillespie, the group’s lawyer, couldn’t pinpoint the cause of the health effects of turbines — saying it could be low-frequency noise, infrasound (not audible to humans) or even visual appearance — he compared the situation to a restaurant serving contaminated food.

The restaurant would be closed, he said, before health authorities determined whether it was “the tomatoes or the fish” that caused the food poisoning.

“We don’t wait,” he said. “We act.”

Rotter accused Gillespie of building a spurious, scattergun case against turbines.

“The bulk of his evidence is speculation and fear-mongering,” she said.

The government lawyer said many of the anti-wind group’s “experts” were in fact advocates.

They include Dr. Robert McMurtry, a notable orthopedic surgeon and former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario who became interested in turbines when an installation was proposed near his residence in Prince Edward County.

Rotter said McMurtry and two other physicians relied upon by Gillespie were members of local wind opposition groups as well as an international group that opposes wind turbines.

The research the doctors conducted was not in their field of expertise and was based on “biased and selective evidence,” she said.

“It was done to prove a thesis they already had in pursuit of making their case.”

Gillespie concluded his submissions by stating the Chatham-Kent wind farm, if allowed to go ahead, “will cause serious harm to human health.”

Rotter disagreed, playing down the impact the turbines will have on its neighbours.

“Noise is noise,” she said. “We all live with it. It’s not harmful at the volumes that will be generated at Kent Breeze. Whether you’re annoyed by it is another story.”

The panel will decide on the case by July 18.

14 thoughts on “Government lawyer blasts opposition to wind farms

  1. Annoyance sure can cause property values to drop and when this happens health issues sure can develop for the property owners. Stress & anger cause a lot of illness.

    But of course this is not a complete report of what was said in the final arguments.

    From this report then all health isues are just caused by annoyance. At least a decision will be handed down prior to the provincial election.

    • I wrote this to the Chatham newspaper..depends on the papers leanings if they publish it ior not

      We have over 700 people with adverse health effects from close proximity to IWTs that have lodged complaints with the Ontario gov’t.
      Every country in the world faces these issues.
      Denmark , Norway and Germany are no different than Ontario. Australia too is facing this problem.
      When our publically funded lawyers try to minimize the human impact of IWTs on people , real human beings , you have to wonder.
      Any law student I ever knew wanted to become a lawyer to do some good. To change the world.
      To help the small guy being stepped on by the big corporations.
      Governmnet lawyer Frederika Rotter minimilized the suffering of those she should be protecting. People who are fighting for their families , their homes , their quality of life.
      Isn’t that who Frederika Rotter should be working for?
      Yet , here we have The Little People of Ontario battling a dictotrial Green Energy Act which has no place in free democratic society.
      Yet we have our publically funded lawyers that we pay for , fighting for big business Industrial Windturbine developers so that they can put windturbines close enough to cause people health issues.
      Perhaps it’s time to look for a better job.

    • Were the issues of why & how wind turbines produce this annoying and harmful sound brought out in any testimony?

      Is this problem due to faulty design and/ or faulty parts in the turines? Afterall IWTs are only supposed to make as much noise as a refrigerator. So how come this is happening?

      Annoyance can turn into anger and anger can lead to undesirable social consequences.

  2. This would be the same “Rotter” that suggested residents purchase ear plugs, if they found the noise anoying.

  3. More annoyance from a Government lawyer…At least the Government lawyer isn’t an advocate…..and has no vested interest either….Should use the Sgt Shultz argument …”I see nothing”…….

  4. Does Frederika Rotter have the gonads to live next to a few turbines for a year. How about rigging one of the abandoned homes with cameras and let the CBC make a reality show starring Ms Rotter and we can watch her lose her mind.

  5. Frederika Rotter made the case against MOE. Small wonder the Premier and Ministers are hiding under their desks from the reason and sense coming out of such hearings in increasing amounts.

    Next, MOE will be burying CO2 with the hazard risk of a large, untended fuse- activated bomb. God help us. Save us from the present Liberal government of ninnies.

    God bless all the activists against this monstrous technology of the “Greenies”.

  6. Let’s be clear… this Liberal government does not give a hoot about we who live in rural Ontario. Our rights to health and wellness are not as important as those who live in cities. Furthermore…when we fight for our rights (because God knows Toronto bureaucrats like Arlene King will not fight for us)…our government uses our own money to hire lawyers like Rotter to ridicule us and belittle our concerns.

    When it comes to parents protecting their families… I suspect it is only a matter of time before anger and frustration brings this fight to it’s next logical step.

    I look forward to the day when the Liberal candidate for my area comes to the door.

  7. I doubt if Rotter would have the guts to live in a house close to wind turbines in operation. She would have to ask to be excused from the assignment long before the whole year elapsed.

  8. Rotter is what could be considered an annoyance, though some may agree she is more than that. An industrial machine that puts people’s health at risk is not an annoyance no matter how it is defined. The government’s use of annoyance is annoying. The fight is not to get rid of an annoyance, though in all rights for what IWTs deliver would be considered justifiable, but to stop and get rid of industrial power machines that make people sick. The real NIMBYs are the ones who want the IWTs in someone else’s back yard. The judge should want to live in one of the homes, or even try several of them (making sure the companies did not know which one) to check it out. Why listen to hearsay, when proof is out there. Why not hold court in one of the homes?

  9. This is the same Ms. Rotter, who suggested that it is only a bunch of rabble rousers stirring the issue up about health because (in her words) “it is well know that wind turbines cause devaluation of properties.”

  10. The Lawyer for the MOE used a series of insulting names to defame our characters and the characters of the intelligent, experienced and objective Expert witnesses brought forward by Eric Gillespie.
    She used words to describe the case such as ‘fear mongering, biased, irrelevant, brainwashed, red herring and non objective’.

    This is a lawyer representing our government, paid for by OUR tax dollars!

  11. Zen2then. Yesterday my wife met up with the lease holder behind my property yesterday. He thinks this will be great. Another brainwash. I can’t wait till the first lawsuit towards a lease holder personally. Has this been considered at all? Probably shouldn’t discuss this on this site anyway. Fa Guinty has enough time to change these laws. Tim Hudak. Please do what’s right.

  12. Why doesn’t this lawyer come and live in a wind farm so she can see for herself. There are four empty homes in Ripley I understand that Suncor energy bought for because the people living there couldn’t because of serious health issues.
    This could be the solution so Ms Rotter could see for herself first hand exactly what it would be like. Or there are other homes in the area which I am told living in them is like living in a washing machine from the noise these wind turbines put out.
    One should not defend something till they have actually experienced the very thing they are defending.

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