Central Huron says no to wind

By Cheryl Heath, Clinton News Record

The Municipality of Central Huron is prepared to just say no to Industrial Wind Turbines.

At the behest of a motion crafted by Coun. Burkhard Metzger, who joined council in the fall election on a platform that was clear about his anti wind farm stance, councillors voted five to one in favour of a moratorium on Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) pending a lengthy list of reports and investigations that run the gamut from the often-cited request for an intensive health study to proof that such projects do not negatively impact property values.

Reading from a more than one page-long motion, Metzger asks the Province to declare a moratorium on the construction of IWTs “until science-based and peer reviewed regulations that ensure public health and well-being have been implemented and that the Province restore local planning powers to the Municipality regarding renewable energy projects.”

Metzger’s motion also states, “Central Huron residents have repeatedly voiced concerns about the density of the IWTs proposed in Central Huron and Huron County as a whole, the associated distribution and transmission network and the cumulative effects on the municipal road system.”

Further, Metzger’s motion goes on to question the impact of wind farm developments on the environment and animals, with part of the motion reading, “these areas (in Central Huron) contain two recognized North American flyways, seasonal migrating paths, daily flight paths and seasonal staging grounds, and all areas provide habitat and breeding grounds for a long list of birds, bats, waterfowl and wildlife; and there is growing concern for the long-term effects that IWTs may have on these species, many of whom are on the endangered species list for Ontario.”

In conclusion, Metzger’s motion asks, “that the province of Ontario declare a moratorium on all current and future projects for onshore and offshore development of wind-energy facilities until it has commissioned properly designed independent third party scientific research into the long-term effects, released the findings for public comment and has incorporated those comments to enact science maximums for wind facility emissions and for electrical emissions for all related electrical facilities and can, therefore, guarantee to council’s satisfaction that the health and well being of the municipality’s human and animal populations are protected from the direct and indirect negative effects of being in proximity to those IWT facilities.”

While few questions were lobbed at Metzger following the reading of the motion, Central Huron CAO Kevin McLlwain reported Charles Edey, president of Leader Resources, had submitted a written letter on the motion, which McLlwain proceeded to read into the record.

Edey’s letter, in part, stated IWTs do have the public’s support but there are a “handful” of “vocal and organized residents” who are creating the impression wind farms are not wanted. Edey also argues transmission line and distribution projects were already planned as part of Ontario’s power system plan and, as such, have no concrete ties to wind farm developments.

In response to Edey’s letter, Metzger says his motion is lengthy because he was “trying to capture” all of the concerns he has been hearing from ratepayers. He notes that he has yet to meet one person who supports wind farms that is not a lease holder or benefitting from the projects in some other way.

Metzger says he believes the “vast majority” support a moratorium “because these are the people I’m hearing from.”

Coun. Brian Barnim responded to Edey’s letter by suggesting the Green Energy Act must not be as all encompassing as it is presented to be because Leader Resources is taking time out to refute Metzger’s motion.

“There has to be some reason why he doesn’t want us to do this,” says Barnim, adding he read an e-mail that was forwarded from Reeve James Ginn’s account that proved to be “a lengthy little letter” from Edey on the issue.

Coun. Alex Westerhout also supported Metzger’s motion and noted the World Health Organization (WHO) says turbines should be set at least 1.5 kilometres from residential areas and, as such, that should be Ontario’s standard.

Westerhout adds it is ironic that proponents of wind energy say Ontarians should be looking to Europe for leadership on wind development since it is Europe that is setting the 1.5-km setback standard.

“It appears they (turbines) are not as benign as the proponents of this scheme would have us believe,” says Westerhout.

Ultimately, Coun. Alison Lobb, who has pondered the possibility of signing wind leases, asked for a recorded vote on the issue. Lobb proved to be the sole opponent while Metzger, Westerhout, Barnim, Dan Colquhoun and Marg Anderson supported the resolution.

Reeve James Ginn abstained from the discussion and the vote, as he is a wind leaseholder.

While the council’s decision was met by a round of applause from about 10 ratepayers sitting in the gallery, Central Huron resident Fred Dutot later questioned whether it was appropriate for the CAO to read Edey’s letter given that several ratepayers in the audience were not allowed to speak on the resolution during the council session. Ginn says the municipality will be reviewing council’s operating procedures and protocols this year.