Ontario wind turbine projects need to be more sensitive to residents: study

2014_05140205Richard Blackball, The Globe and Mail
Renewable energy developers – and those who regulate them – need to be more sensitive to the concerns of residents who are going to have massive wind turbines built near them, a group of Canadian academics says.

In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Energy, the eight authors – six of whom are university professors or researchers – analyze why there is so much debate over the placement of wind turbines in Ontario.

Ontario has the greatest number of wind turbines of any province, and their construction has created considerable conflict between developers and those opposed to the installation of large industrial machinery in rural environments. Often these fights end up pitting neighbours against neighbours, and they can become big political battles at the municipal level.

Ontario has altered its rules since it first encouraged wind farms in its Green Energy Act in 2009, said Stewart Fast, a senior research associate at the University of Ottawa and one of the paper’s authors. But even though the new rules encourage more input from local governments and residents near proposed turbines, these changes haven’t been enough to stop the disputes, he said. Read article

21 thoughts on “Ontario wind turbine projects need to be more sensitive to residents: study

  1. Here’s the rest of the “article” [“propaganda”] …

    Ontario has altered its rules since it first encouraged wind farms in its Green Energy Act in 2009, said Stewart Fast, a senior research associate at the University of Ottawa and one of the paper’s authors. But even though the new rules encourage more input from local governments and residents near proposed turbines, these changes haven’t been enough to stop the disputes, he said.

    One of the key battlegrounds concerns the health effects of wind turbines, and whether the noise and vibration from them keep some people awake and cause other medical issues.

    Wind proponents have pointed out that there is little evidence of a direct link between turbine noise and health, and “those living close to turbines who express health concerns are sometimes mocked in their communities,” the paper notes. But it also suggests there needs to be a “broader view of the health impacts caused by wind energy” among developers and regulators.

    “There is a psycho-social stress that is involved,” Mr. Fast said. “Being dismissive and characterizing annoyance as something that doesn’t matter is not going to be helpful.”

    One reason for community conflict with wind farms is the uneven way financial benefits are distributed. Municipalities sometimes receive “contributions” from developers, but “in polarized situations such arrangements can be interpreted as a bribe,” the paper notes. Usually the only individuals who gain financially are those who lease space for a turbine on their land – although there has been a shift, in some situations, to also compensate others who live nearby.

    The best solution, the paper suggests, is a local-ownership model where members of the community can actually own a project, reap its benefits, and influence how it is built. That is much more common in Europe than in North America.

    Even if that doesn’t happen, there needs to be a more complete process of community engagement, with better and more open public meetings, more willingness by developers to change projects, and a process for mediation and negotiation, the paper said.

    The aesthetics of wind farms has also been a divisive issue . Some people who live near them like the way they look and think of them as part of the green energy revolution, while others hate them and see them as an industrial intrusion.

    But even if a local landscape is widely considered part of an area’s “cultural heritage,” the impact of a wind farm is usually dealt with in a “perfunctory manner,” or “simply ignored” by developers, the paper said.

    Rules that protect already-designated sensitive landscapes need to be enforced, Mr. Fast said, and there needs to be some kind of formal process for identifying those valuable cultural landscapes in the first place.

    This kind of process works in other sectors such as forestry, where clear-cutting is usually forbidden near roads or waterways, Mr. Fast noted. “I don’t think it is an unreasonable idea that those same kind of restrictions apply to energy development.”

    Over all, he said, wind energy regulation has, up to this point, generally favoured developers over those who oppose turbines. However, “there is a trend to take a little bit more seriously the concerns of [opponents] and the need for early engagement [of those affected],” he added.

    Mr. Fast said he thinks more wind projects should simply be put to a vote. “The idea of some sort of community referendum on whether or not the municipality should support a project is probably a good thing.”

    • ‘[excerpt] and WHETHER the noise and vibration from them keep some people awake and cause other medical issues.’ [emphasis added]

      The researchers, Blackball, & his editors, have f!@#%’ed up
      the health science part of this investigation.

      These issues have already been proven:
      “The noise and vibration from them keep some people awake and cause other medical issues.”

      How retarded are they?
      Here’s an article published LAST YEAR!

      Inagaki T and Nishi Y, Analysis of aerodynamic sound noise generated by a large-scaled wind turbine and its physiological evaluation, Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. (2015) 12:1933–1944 DOI 10.1007/s13762-014-0581-4

      A recent study relating to a modern large-scale wind turbine by Inagaki and Nishi (2015) indicates a direct effect through the alteration of brain wave patterns and the occurrence of annoyance. The study notes that “fluctuation and amplitude fluctuation derived from the four time-series data of the aerodynamic noise, which was measured with four sound recorders at four measurement points shown in Fig. 1a.”

      This study considers Amplitude Modulation (AM), i.e., the cyclic noise (swooshing sound) and infrasound.

      Aerodynamic noise generated from a modern large-scale wind turbine was measured and analyzed from an engineering point of view. The measurement items were the sound, the sound pressure level (including the infrasound with extremely lowfrequency band) and the corresponding physiological evaluation. Fifteen test subjects received various sound stimuli, including the recorded aerodynamic noise and a synthetic periodical sound, were examined with an electroencephalogram as a physiological evaluation. It was observed from the mapping patterns of brain waves that alpha1 rhythm, which indicates a relaxed and concentrated state, after the sound stimulus with the frequency band of 20 Hz, showed the lowest value among the other cases. That is, the test subjects cannot keep relaxed and their concentration after hearing the sound stimulus at the frequency band of 20 Hz. The induced rate of alpha1 rhythm almost decreased when the test subjects listened to all the sound stimuli, and further decreased with decreased frequency. Meanwhile, beta1 rhythm, which shows a strain state, after the sound stimulus with the frequency band of 20 Hz, showed the highest value among the other cases. Therefore, the infrasound (e.g., low frequency and inaudible for human hearing) was considered to be an annoyance to the technicians who work in close proximity to a modern large-scale wind turbine.

  2. That there is no good environmental or economic reason to subject rural residents or wildlife to the state sanctioned torture of the windpower follies has been demonstrated repeatedly to the satisfaction of rational minds everywhere…unwillingly we forced to suffer the ignominy of being ruled by “progressives”.

    The idea that community ownership and shared benefits/bribes will somehow change the reality of science and economics is straight from the collectivist playbook. It doesn’t matter that this article is just more BS it serves to prolong the life of the windscam by giving BigSpin another set of talking points with which to bamboozle people who are incapable of rational thought.

    ICYMI Steven Cooper’s latest on WF acoustics

  3. Blah, blah, blah. This is a pro wind article, in case you’re wondering.

    What the Canadian academics, headed by self described “social scientist” (alarm bells, ding, ding, ding!!!) Stewart Fast, are really saying is that rural citizens should be given a bit bigger soap box from which to whine about “clean, green wind turbines” before being told to suck it up and get with the program (for the greater good!!!).

    It’s like being offered one more last meal before being hung by the neck until you’re dead.

    Blah, blah, blah …

  4. “The idea of some sort of community referendum on whether or not the municipality should support a project is probably a good thing.” –Stewart Fast, University of Ottawa.

    Wow, what a forceful, right to the point statement from the “social scientist”!.
    Such emphatic words: “idea”, “some sort of”, “whether or not”, “should”, “probably”. What a load of hooey.

    Here, let me try:
    A community referendum must be held prior to a municipality providing support for any project – ScepticalGord, High School Flunky

  5. I went to the original article to view the comment section. I was unable to view the comments posted on the Globe and Mail. Is anyone else having this difficulty? Is there some reason the Globe and Mail would be suspending access to the comment section?

  6. Ontario remains in a bubble, the only place left in the world where all the negative impacts caused by the wind energy scam continue to be ignored.
    A couple of recent stories show up the complete hypocrisies behind the entire green energy nightmare.
    Both out of Germany, the world’s foremost poster child and supporter of wind(and solar)energy!
    The Mayor of a German city recently opening one of Germany’s newest coal powered generating plant described it as part of ‘…Germany’s contribution to green energy…’.
    You can’t make this stuff up!
    And the authors of a study about the proven negative impacts of infrasound on families living in close proximity to industrial wind turbines and how the German government and wind energy proponents continue to ignore such studies because they claim infrasounds are harmless because we can’t actually hear them!

  7. NO academic in Ontario is ever going to gainsay Ontario gov’t policy; after all, they work in provincially funded institutions and institutes. Furthermore, the so-called “social sciences” are not sciences, and “social scientists” are definitely no scientists. Whatever they are, they have no credibility on matters scientific. Think of a philosophy professor professing on Industrial Wynne Turbines, would he, she ot it have any credibility.

  8. A poster case as to why catastrophic climate change is inevitable. No one measures the result of these ‘Green Energy’ programs — so there is no reality test, just spin. The driver, I am afraid, is more the opportunities for private profit than any meaningful measure to improve the state of the world.

  9. We gave our power away to idiots that used power we gave them and charged us to be there debt slaves.
    Does it make sense for us to do this over and over again? Groundhog day ring a bell?
    Something is most seriously wrong here but gee who’s to blame if we keep falling for this and they the powers that be say F U you gave it away.
    Well I think I have grown up and grown out of this stupidity
    Strawman no more.they stole enough from me and you. Deceived us and controlled us and took advantage of us without full disclosure. Lose the name
    For those that still believe in voting and giving your creation/power away for these pee brains you deserve to be there slaves. Your false idol!

  10. I read an article like this – by an academic, yet, a social scientist – and I wonder how he got his degree.

    So vague as to be meaningless. Obviously didn’t spend more than a couple of hours doing internet ‘research’.

    All I can think is, “Taking ‘shallow’ to new depths.” lmao

      • That’s a horrible article – I haven’t been aware of the blog before so I don’t know if they have just fallen for the spin or if they are just apologists for greenwashing.

        There was certainly no attempt to unspin the quotes.

        In this one…
        “(CANWEA) noted in a personal interview that many wind farms have gone forward with little conflict. In fact, an Oracle Research poll in January 2013 found that 69 per cent of Ontarians agreed that “Ontario should be a leader in wind and solar energy production.” ”

        for it to be meaningful, we would have to know what is meant by ‘little conflict’. Was it early ones before folks realized there were problems? Does that include really small windfarms (two or three turbines) or windfarms in remote areas where there are very few people to object?
        Note the segue from many farms with little conflict to an Oracle survey – no hint of what the questions were, or how many people were asked – and most importantly, were the people questioned living near wind turbines or mostly in cities and rural areas that don’t have IWT.

        Lots of similar bits in the article, so I suspect this is all intentional spin

      • As to what can be done to help PEC, I suspect nothing if folks want to work within the law.

        They’ve got us beat seven ways to sundown. They own the gov’t and they made the laws. ERTs are there solely so that the gov’t can give the appearance of giving us a voice, without giving us any power.

        The other day I was at the courthouse in Sarnia with about 50 others where 3 young people are facing jail time for shutting down Enbridge’s line 9.

        They made me feel like some kind of poseur, with my sign.
        That was certainly not their intent, but I just felt very aware that they were taking real action and facing real consequences, and I don’t have the courage to do that.
        They could have shut it down and left, but they stayed to be arrested.
        Initially, I wondered about that. My comment was, ‘Those who fight and run away, live to fight another day.’
        After listening to them speak, I see that they stayed in order to cause a trial and bring more awareness to the issue.
        The more I learn about them,the more I respect them.

        The following is speculative and for educational and entertainment purposes only. I am not publicly advocating sabotage!
        I can see no legal way to do anything about the crap that is being done to the environment and the public. OTOH, all over Ontario, there are thousands of wind turbines sitting in themiddle of fields. They are very vulnerable to sabotage. If we are all satisfied to write letters, sign petitions, and do ERTs, with or without expensive lawyers, then all we will have is the satisfaction of saying we tried.
        It wouldn’t take that many acts of sabotage to make the whole turbine business not worth it. It would cost a lot of money to actually guard these things 24/7 and video cameras are easily overcome.
        Sadly, there are very few people with the courage to face jail time, but we are starting to hear about turbines being sabotaged. I hope those who are doing it are thinking it all out very carefully, and being cautious.
        Some of us suspect that there is more sabotage than we are hearing about – that the wind companies would rather eat the cost than make it public how much they are being targeted. Stories of successful sabotage might encourage others.

  11. I’ve sent the writer, Richard Blackball, a list of 26 statements from residents of Huron County who are experiencing adverse health impacts from turbines and their infrastructure are sited too close to their homes.

  12. Is Tanya Christidis LAUNDERING?

    Here’s the University of Waterloo press release about it:


    “Recognizing health concerns in wind energy development a key recommendation in new study”
    Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    As wind energy development blossoms in Canada and around the world, opposition at the community level is challenging the viability of the industry. A new study with research from the University of Waterloo, published in Nature Energy, identifies four major factors leading to disputes over wind farms, and offers recommendations on avoiding disagreements.

    The research project focuses on the province of Ontario. It lists socially mediated health concerns, distribution of financial benefits, lack of meaningful engagement and failure to treat landscape concerns seriously, as the core stumbling blocks to a community’s acceptance of wind energy development.

    “There has been debate over whether reported negative health outcomes in nearby residents are valid” says Tanya Christidis, a PhD researcher at Waterloo’s School of Planning, who contributed to the study by looking specifically at the health impacts section in the publication. “Regardless of whether or not people are sick from wind turbine noise or from social factors they deserve to be acknowledged if renewables are going to become a key part of our future energy mix.”

    The study makes recommendations for all four identified major areas of dispute.

    For community members who feel the distribution of financial benefits is unfair, it recommends the province, which is constitutionally responsible for managing all energy resources within its territory, mandate more community-level decision-making and ownership. It also recommends increased transparency and compensation distribution for everyone in a community.

    The study suggests that Ontario’s approval process does not encourage enough meaningful engagement. Acknowledging that this is difficult to mandate, its recommendation is that improvements in this area should still be pursued.

    Finally, the study recommends greater consideration for the impact on landscapes, and in particular changes to the cultural landscapes of areas with wind energy development.

    Over the past decade global wind energy capacity has increased eight-fold. Ontario, with a population of close to 13 million people and land area of 1.1 million km2 is approximately equivalent in population, size and contracted wind energy capacity (5,700 vs 6, 200 MW) 2 to Sweden and Norway combined.

    Research for the report was assembled by researchers, from Waterloo. York University, Western University, Queen’s University, University of Ottawa as well as Trent University. The study is unique as it also includes a community representative and a wind industry advocate engaged in the Ontario wind energy industry.

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