By Heather Young, Chatham Leader-Spirit
DRESDEN – Members of the Rotary Club of Dresden recently heard from a Ridgetown lawyer who’s involved in a legal battle to keep wind turbines out of Chatham-Kent.
Douglas Desmond, who is a part of Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc., spoke to the group about CKWA’s involvement in a hearing regarding the required setbacks of wind turbines from homes.
The current minimal setback is 550 metres, but the World Health Organization recommends 1,500 metres, said Desmond, and CKWA’s goal is for wind farm projects to follow that guideline.
“If they increase the setback, it will probably make wind projects anywhere in Chatham-Kent difficult to do,” he said.
Court action, formally entitled Katie Erickson and the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. v. Province of Ontario, was made to the Environmental Review Tribunal. The hearing is completed, and the Ministory of Environment will make a decision next month.
Desmond said the hearing “included virtually every medical expert in the world on the single issue of the health effect of audible noise on human beings.”
He said the unanimous conclusion was that wind turbines create a discernable health impact on humans.
Desmond presented the same information at the Carolinian Canada Coalition at Port Rowan, on May 27.
Also at issue at the meeting were the economic impact of wind turbines on property values and how policies regarding the placement and regulations of turbines fit into Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
“I might have health impacts,” said Desmond, who lives close to a turbine situated on a neighbour’s land.
“But personally, I’m more worried about property values.”
Desmond told Rotarians that if a turbine is in view from a property, the value of that residence could drop 25% to 40%.
“People have eyes. They’re not likely to miss a 300-foot industrial structure in their backyard.”
This is particularly true for homes of higher value, especially those near water, said Desmond.
“We have to protect our strategic assets – our lake shore and rivers. They’re the foundation of modern development,” he said.
The decision about setbacks will be made by mid-July.