By Harvey Wrightman
upcoming (withdrawn – to continue with Mapleton case) Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal hearing into the Zephyr wind project in Brooke/ Alvinston will have testimony from two well-qualified acoustical experts, Dr. Robert Thorne, an environmental noise consultant to the NZ Ministry of Health, and Steve Ambrose, P.Eng., a member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE). While the expert testimony provides the scientific basis to challenge the current MOE siting rules, it can only describe the human effects in a very cold, impersonal way.
To the Ministry of Environment (MOE), residents are not “humans”, they are “receptors.” Our houses are called “receptor locations”. Setback distances are measured to the centre of the receptor location. Excess noise can intrude and take over most of your property as long as the centre of the house is “safe”.
You no longer have a house and property; you are left with a “bunker.” If you sign any sort of agreement with the wind company, you waive all rights to even these inadequate standards. The farmer who signs a wind lease is no longer a farmer; he is now a landlord with one very nasty tenant who dictates all the rules for 50 years.
These are the things that expert testimony cannot describe; but, ordinary people can. So, in this hearing for the first time, residents who live in wind projects will provide the gritty details that models, maps, and calculations cannot display.
They will tell what it’s like from a personal perspective to live with these machines day and night. They will tell what it feels like to be caught in these wind ghettos – the constant thumping noise, the sleep disturbance, the hopelessness of being trapped and unable to even sell a property they wish to escape – their own homes.
Experts cannot give this kind of testimony. The wind companies deny the problems, dismiss and belittle the people affected. The government ignores their plight and facillitates whatever the wind companies want. Now, for the first time these residents/witnesses will be heard, all 25 of them – and there are many more willing to testify.
Think about it. Why are these people testifying? They already live in wind projects; what gain is there for themselves? Would you put yourself out in public to be scrutinized?
At the preliminary session in Wyoming, all parties to the appeal agreed to hold the hearing in the host community, Brooke/Alvinston. Looking up from her Blackberry, the MOE lawyer innocently asked, “Where’s Alvinston?” She may as well asked, “Where’s Timbuktu?” This was likely the furthest she had ever strayed from the 401. Alvinston is 64 km. from London, 64 km from Sarnia, and 64 km from Chatham. In SW Ontario you cannot get further from a major city than Alvinston.
It’s a place that she and this government should definitely experience. The hearing is being held March 7, 8, 9, 26 – 30 starting at 10 AM in the Brooke/Alvinston Community Centre, upper hall. Everyone is invited.
Please introduce yourselves to the people from Toronto, the lawyers and bureaucrats who have come to hear our appeal. This is our chance to let them know who we are and how are lives will be so greatly affected by these wind projects. We should make sure they know where Alvinston is.
Harvey Wrightman, RR #3, Kerwood