By Heather Wright, Sarnia This Week
WATFORD – The health effects of four wind turbines just outside of Watford will be under scrutiny at an Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in January. The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group filed the appeal after provincial government approved Green Breeze Energy’s four turbine 10 megawatt project worth about $22 million. WAG’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, says this is only the second time a project has been reviewed since the provincial government changed the Green Energy Act to allow appeals for “serious harm to human health.”
The hearing moved ahead Dec. 22, after the tribunal dismissed a motion from the Ministry of the Environment to call off the hearing. Lawyers suggested WAG didn’t provide enough information. The tribunal decided there was enough information to go ahead.
Gillespie says the main focus of the hearing will be the “numerous indirect health effects associated with wind turbines such as sleep disturbance, vertigo, nausea, headaches.”
There are many industrial wind farm projects about to begin in Lambton County, some with dozens of turbines. Gillespie expects the size of the Zephyr project will be brought up. But he says studies in the US have show the number of turbines in a neighbourhood is not a contributing factor to the problems.
“It doesn’t really seem to matter whether the project is two or three or maybe four turbines or a much large projects,” says Gillespie. “The effects of people living in close proximity seem to be the same no matter what the size of the project.
“A project down in Maine …in a place they were finding people feeling the effects more than 6,000 meters away from just three turbines.”
Gillespie says the tribunal has already recognized the problems associated with wind turbines but he says it may take many more rulings to convince the government to change distance restrictions on the projects.
“Whether it’s four turbines or forty turbines you are going to continue to see people raise concerns,” says Gillespie.