A Kerwood area woman is appealing to other Adelaide-Metcalfe residents to join her in a last minute effort to stop wind turbines from being erected in the township until more information is known about possible negative health effects.
“Just stop until we get some studies done,” said Esther Wrightman, who recently produced a pamphlet and a website to try to increase awareness of possible health risks.
Mrs. Wrightman with help from her brother, Dan Wrightman, has been researching the effects of wind turbines on nearby residents and said she hopes to make area residents aware of the potential dangers before it’s too late.
The Wrightmans, both lifelong township residents, say they are particularly concerned with the number of wind turbines that will be located in the area of Adelaide-W.G. MacDonald School. “There are 16 within three kilometres of the school,” said Mrs. Wrightman.
With the project having gone through all of the stages for approval and a notice of completion filed, Mrs. Wrightman said she is planning to file a “request for elevation” with the provincial Ministry of the Environment by this Friday’s deadline to try to stop the project until more substantive information about the effects of wind turbines is available.
The wind energy project in Adelaide-Metcalfe is the effort of a company called TCI Renewables, through its Canadian subsidiary Air Energy TCI.
The company plans to erect 40 wind turbines in Adelaide-Metcalfe with the ability to generate up to 72 megawatts of power.
The company first started looking at bringing wind turbines to the area in late 2006. A number of open houses and public meetings were held in the township during the planning process, including those required for zoning bylaw changes and environmental impact studies.
The Wrightmans admit they are getting into the fight a bit late, but say there wasn’t enough effort made by the municipality to notify people of the meetings and that they weren’t aware of most of them.
They also say that little attention was paid to the effects that the wind turbines might have on the school and its students and staff.
Mrs. Wrightman said she is particularly concerned for children who will have turbines near their homes, because they’ll never get away from them. “They’ll have to sleep with it, and then go to school with it too.”
In their research, the Wrightmans say they’ve found plenty of stories of people who have had significant health problems after wind turbines were erected nearby. The health problems are attributed to the low-frequency noise from the turbines, or from “stray voltage” that is said to leak from power lines.
“It seems to be really high numbers,” said Mr. Wrightman. “It can’t all be psychosomatic.”
The problem, Mrs. Wrightman and her brother say, is that, while there are more than enough reports of health evidence to suggest there may be health problems originating from wind turbines, all of the evidence is anecdotal. There haven’t been any conclusive studies proving or disproving possible negative effects from wind turbines.
And, as with many health-related issues, the effects may vary greatly from one person to another, said Mr. Wrightman. “Some people are sensitive, and some people aren’t.”
Until some real evidence is gathered one way or the other, the Wrightmans say wind turbines shouldn’t be installed near where people live or work.
“I’m not against wind farms,” said Mr. Wrightman. “But I think we need to investigate why people are getting sick.”
Unfortunately, he said, debate on possible health effects of wind turbines has been limited because many of the environmentally concerned people who would normally drive such a debate have accepted wind power unconditionally. “It’s like a motherhood issue that you can’t say anything against.”
Similarly, the provincial government has rushed into wind energy too quickly, he said, with its politically motivated fervour for anything that can be labelled “green”.
In the end, however, the McGuinty government may come to regret their enthusiastic support for wind power, he said.
“The province is ignoring this at their peril,” he said, predicting future class-action lawsuits and the removal of wind turbines. “They may have to take some of them down.”
For more information, visit Mrs. Wrightman’s wind power website at www.windaction.wordpress.com or the TCI Renewables site at www.tci.net. Information about the local project can be found by following the link to “Canada” in the “Projects” section, then clicking “Ontario”, followed by “Adelaide”.