OFA wants turbine setback loophole closed

By Donal O’Connor, Stratford Beacon Herald

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) says landowners shouldn’t be allowed the option of putting up a wind turbine less than 550 metres from their own home. OFA general manager Neil Currie said in an interview Thursday a lot of people the federation has spoken with were not aware that turbines could, under agreements they sign with power companies, be placed closer to their homes than the provincially required setback.

“It’s a fine point that many people were not aware of, and we were not aware of until recently,” he said.

“We feel that people shouldn’t be given the option of waiving the right to 550 metres. If 550 (metres) is a good distance then it should be good for everybody.”

The recommendation is one of six relating to wind power the federation has made to the provincial government in a public statement that generally supports wind turbine development.

In a statement, the OFA calls on the government to “quickly and fairly” address all health and nuisance complaints from rural residents involving wind turbine developments.

It also recommends:

• Reducing stray voltage and line loss through larger gauge service lines and higher capacity transformers.

• Ensuring the maximum allowable noise level of 40 decibels is not exceeded and developing a protocol to measure noise, including continuous tone and low-frequency noise.

• Amending regulations governing landowners who agree to lease or sell land for turbines to require a minimum setback of 550 metres for all wind turbine developments.

• Ensuring that landowners are clear on their right to negotiate an acceptable setback distance for any wind turbine on their own property or on any property within the boundaries of the development.

The OFA says it is committed to exploring all the opportunities for alternative energy as they relate to and impact Ontario farmers and rural residents.

Harnessing energy through wind turbines is one of the green energy options that will contribute to a reliable source of energy for future generations, it says, but it asks the provincial government for “clarity on wind-turbine related health, noise level and stray voltages concerns.”

The federation says it struck a task team of directors, staff and researchers to draft recommendations for future wind turbine development after receiving anecdotal reports of adverse health impacts, primarily concerning noise levels and stray voltage.

A spokesperson for the Perth County Federation of Agriculture was not available yesterday to comment on the wind turbine issue that has been dividing several rural communities.

The Wellington County Federation of Agriculture took the position about a year ago that there should be a moratorium on new wind farm developments until further health studies were done, but its president, David Parker, said in an interview Thursday there are members on the board in favour of wind power and members opposed to it.

“We’ve been asked to take a stand by the opposing sides,” he said. “Our stand is simple. We cannot tell farmers not to put (a turbine) up and we will not advise a farmer to put one up. We understand the economic situation a lot of these farmers are in, and it’s dire.”

Parker said the federation is advising farmers to get full legal advice before doing anything.

“It may be seen to be sitting on the fence but it’s a business decision that only they can make.”

In Belwood, the wind farm issue “has torn the community right down the middle,” said Parker.

“It’s pitted farmer against farmer. It’s pitted neighbour against neighbour.”

“We need different forms of energy. We need to look at different forms of energy. But it’s got to come at a cost society is prepared to accept.”

11 thoughts on “OFA wants turbine setback loophole closed

  1. Interesting how the flow of $’s affects people’s judgement.

    • Aaaaaaaaah yes,
      it’s interesting – the OFA!
      Sorry! …….can’t hear you!

  2. Man made/global warming/climate change propaganda is starting to unravel at its core.

    If this issue is keeping you from working to unseat the incumbent Liberal in your riding, AND you have time, by all means do the research into the work of climatologists who are revealing the scam

    On the other hand, we ONLY HAVE A SMALL WINDOW, 33 days to unseat as many Liberals as possible in our own riding OR the one next door.

  3. Not aware of until recently??? Come on!! OFA you knew of the problems right from the start that farmers were allowed to opt out of the min. setback. Many turbines now being constructed are at less than 550 metres despite the GEA. Many of these projects received their Cof A’s based on bogus computer modelled noise assessments that did not have to meet the requirement of 550 m. Your support of the Green Energy Alliance is making you speak out of both sides of your mouth. Saying that farmers have the right to do as they please with renewable energy is sherking on your responsibilities to provide balanced and non-partisan accurate information for the ag. community to make decisions. Indicating that we need different forms of energy is based exactly on what??? especially when you have Don McCabe crying the blues about energy costs for farmers and Ontario spilling millions $$$$ in excess energy being exported at taxpayers costs.

    • Oh – come on –
      Rural Grubby,

      The OFA is a very ‘reputable’ organization!
      But, it is odd – how suddenly they’re coming out –
      out of the dark!

      So – ya – you do make some excellent points Rural Grubby –
      one has to wonder – what’s going on behind ‘closed doors’.

      And now we have – public perception – causing a rumble of questions!
      And – so it should.

      Thanks for your post!

      • Because we are now hearing from the OFA –
        my question(s) is:
        1. Did the OFA sign a ‘contract’ and take ‘money'(gift) in support, and to promote Green Renewable Energy – of all sorts – wind, solar, and gas plants?
        And – if the answer is yes –

        2 My next question is:
        Because they are ‘now’ speaking out –
        has this ‘contract’ expired?
        And, if this ‘contract’ has expired:

        3. And – they can now speak freely –
        3. (a) when did the OFA realize there were problems brewing
        Re: the farming community, and adjacent neighbours?

        The reason I ask is because I was told by a farmer – they ‘could not’ speak out.
        Why – I do not really know – but the mention of a ‘contract’ did come up.

  4. There was a change in leadership. Wayne Black perhaps was a little less enthusiastic about the GEA.

    I remember a few years ago, the OFA had behind closed door meeting with our mayors and councilors pushing the GEA.

    Residents who attended any meetings sponsored by the OFA back then, who were opposed, were treated like lepers.

    • And that is why many farmers withdrew their support from the OFA and will likely never go back.

  5. And let’s not forget that the OFA had a seat at the main table–in fact was it not Don McCabe, one of the OFA’s Vice Presidents–who represented the OFA and was quite chummy with George Smitherman, et al back in the days when the groundwork for the Green Energy and Green Economy Act was being ‘created’.
    The OFA certainly should have known all of the ins-and-outs–long before the rest of us did!
    This is ‘butt-covering’ pure & simple.
    They’ve probably seen the light, and they know change is coming and they want to do what they can so that Tim and their new BFFs will ‘value their future input’.

    • Hi Debbie,
      Connecting the dots – certainly is shedding light – on the OFA.

      Friends of the Greenbelt gave money to many farming communities – and, a contract was signed – but, what the details/circumstances – surrounding these contracts were –
      I do not know.
      I do know the GreenBelt Cabal – of green fantasy thrill seekers –
      did, and still do
      have a hand in ‘protecting’ millions of acres of land –
      from an unidentified enemy.

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