Farmers now wanting to opt out of wind leases

by David Meyer   The Wellington Advertiser

ELORA – Centre Welling­ton council’s committee of the whole heard on Monday after­noon that several farmers who signed lease agreements for wind farms near Belwood are willing to back out of them.

A delegation led by Dave Hurlburt, Laura Humphrey, Gerry Ellen and Darryl Burnet came to council to ask for its help in opposing the wind farm planned by Invenergy that sur­rounds much of Belwood and reaches into Dufferin County. They represented a group that is opposing the proposal for up to 35 wind turbines.

Hurlburt acknowledged coun­cil has no authority over the project because the pro­vincial Liberal government took it away and gave it to the Ministry of Environment, but he said, “We feel this council has a strong role to play” in op­posing it.

Humphrey cited new information coming forward regularly about the health risks wind turbines might pose, which could cause things like sleep disorders, headaches and numerous  other medi­cal concerns.

She compared the wind tur­bines and health issues to smok­ing, and noted it took years to convince people that smoking was dangerous.

“We need to repeatedly study wind farms to see if they are safe for human health,” Humphrey said.

She added there are impacts on animals and said the site of the wind farm is very close to what has locally become known as “tornado alley,” where there have been several tornadoes over the years that caused millions of dollars in damage in Wellington County.

Hurlburt said part of the pro­cess forces Invenergy to consult with the local council, and he wants council to oppose the project and insist that a letter of opposition is included in its report to the MOE.

The group also asked that if the project is approved, trans­mission lines be buried and that heavy development charges be placed on each turbine. The group asked that council get all the local area roads improved before heavy machinery is allowed to travel over them. It also asked that the company be forced to provide letters of credit for decommissioning the turbines, and to insist on a 4-to 5-km setback from all private airstrips.

The group also asked council to join other munici­pali­ties that supported the Mapleton resolution to seek a provincial moratorium on all such projects until health studies are com­pleted. Council has already done that.

One of the more sur­prising requests was that farmers be allowed to opt out. Councillor Fred Morris asked if that is possible.

Hurlburt said it is. He ex­plained many of the con­tracts signed by farmers to accept wind turbines on their prop­erty had been signed near­ly four years ago – and with another company. Invenergy is the third and latest company involved in the project.

He said what farm­ers accepted four years ago has changed greatly, including the size of the wind turbines. As well, he said, many farmers had no idea the effect the old pro­posal would have on the com­munity. He said they had no idea of the number of turbines that would be part of the plan and, “If asked today, they probably would not sign.”

Darryl Burnett said, “Not only would they not sign, they want out.” He said at least “five of 15 farmers [in East Gara­fraxa] would back away” if they could.

He said that in East Gara­fraxa, he has heard from a coun­cil member there that Invenergy officials had told that council it would not stop farmers who want to change their minds about placing wind turbines on their properties.

Hurlburt said he wants Centre Wellington to council to get a similar commitment from Invenergy for the Belwood area land­owners.

He added that the group is “really frustrated” not only by the public open house forum that was used as a public meet­ing, but because the provincial Liberal government has taken the decision away from local councils.

As for the meeting, “It was no public forum; it was a one-way street,” Hurlburt said.

Lobby effort

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj told the group it has council support. She said she had met with Revenue Minister and Perth Wellington MPP John Wilkinson last week about the issue, and he had told her that resi­dents need to lobby John Gerretsen, the Minister of Environment.

Ross-Zuj told the group, “Whatever it takes – email, a stamp – get it to the MOE as individuals. Gerretsen knows what to expect from council. If that’s where they want it to go, make sure they hear from you.”

Residents also bom­barded Centre Wellington officials. Ross-Zuj said she received over 100 letters and all the writers are going to get a reply that they should lobby the MOE.

“That starts today,” she said. Those 100 letters we received should go down there.

 Contact information for Gerretsen was handed out at the meeting. He can be reached by mail at: The Honourable john Gerretsen, Minister of Environment, 77 Wellesley Street West, 11th Floor, Ferguson Block, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2T5, or by email at minister.moe@ontario.ca, or be telephone at 416-314-6790, or be fax at 416-314-7337.

15 thoughts on “Farmers now wanting to opt out of wind leases

  1. Hear that? Some wind turbine companies will not hold farmer to his 4 year old contract. Hope Wind Power Development out of Mississauga, head office in Germany feels the same way. Our area contracts were registered on title as ‘Notice of Lease’ in 2005. A good corporate lawyer could put up a very strong argument to terminate a contract. I believe that the contracts expire at the 5 year mark anyway, so our job is to befriend and inform the person who signed.

    Heck, bake em a pie…. get in their kitchen… hurry!

  2. My suggestion to anyone writing to Gerretson. Drop the “Honourable” from his title. People should have to earn that title , not abuse it!

  3. This is great news…I hope East Garafraxa offers the same support….

  4. Quixote,

    My Gran used to say “you get a lot more with honey than vinegar”

    Believe me I understand your passion and bitterness but I have learned that force meets force with equal resistance.

    The Japanese are famous for allowing their opponent to save face. Very successful strategy

    It will kill me to be polite to our neighbour who sold us out but he is not worth going to jail for. If I rile him up he will just dig his heels in.

  5. One thing here …………………IF NOBODY signed a lease with the “Wind Scammers” we wouldn’t be fighting for our very existence as a Province right now.

    Maybe a lease signer “should” be held to their contract and have turbines planted on their property and then have them tell their story about how they made a huge mistake and wanted to cancel their lease but were not allowed to by the Wind Company

    That story in itself would show the rest of Ontario how really malevolent these Industrial “carpet baggers” really are.

    “Harsh” maybe, but there is no excuse for “stupidity”.

  6. This is the beginning of a new course of action. Money talks.

  7. Quixote, By then it would be too late. How do we get them to take them down? More of our taxes?

  8. Quixote, we and the rest of Ontario would never hear their story because they’re under gag orders!

  9. This will never happen of course.I just brought that up to bring another argument into the conversation……….it’s just that Land Leasers have never had to answer for their actions………..gag orders are no excuse for the way these “neighbours” have abandoned their communities.

    People that don’t contribute to their community in a positive way should be “ostracized” from that community!

    BTW….it’s already too late to stop the damage that has already been done.

  10. I don’t know about you but I am exhausted from the mental and emotional fatigue that comes with 9 months of stress trying to stop wind power from ruining our province. I am going to take the day off and not even think about @#%$!! wind mills!

    Talk soon,

    Mel

  11. I’m going for a ride on my Motorcycle as the only Wind I want to think about is the “Wind in my face”!

  12. Hi Folks;

    Be aware that the people who signed up are our neighbours, friends and family members who made decisions based on the knowledge and information they had at the time. I assume you were as I, quite unaware of the dangers of wind turbines back in 2005 when the leasing agents first approached the unsuspecting landowners. At the time of signing the landowners were told a story of how good the project would be for the world and how they could make a little money at the same time. It was presented to them as a good thing to do and the data of the day seemed to support that vision. Today, years later we now know the awful truth. The land owners are victims of this situation just as you and I are. More over to create a divide within our community will only help the wind companies, not your community.

    I ask that those of us that are angry about this project direct their energy to correcting the wrong that the Ontario Government has allowed to happen. The very Government we had entrusted to protect our health and civil liberties and property rights and environment, has forsaken us.

    Our community is strong, and supportive, and we will embrace our landowners and help them. They are our friends. They are our neighbours. They are our family members. They have been entrapped in a situation which will plunder their land, put them at financial risk, and ultimately put themselves and their families in harms way.

    If you would like to help . . .

    Please email Oppose Belwood Wind Farm Action Group at:: opposebelwoodwindfarm@gmail.com

    or

    Mail

    Oppose Belwood Wind Farm
    710 Tower St. South
    P.O. Box 50009
    Fergus, ON N1M 3S9

    We truly look forward to your insights and help as we make it right. I look forward to seeing you at our information meeting on the 25th of March 2010 at the Centre Wellington District High School, 905 Scotland Street, Fergus. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Speakers will commence at 7:00 pm

    Thanks

  13. You are absolutely right James, we have often posted these same sentiments and we are trying to help the signee’s in our area. These farmers saw a chance to help them in their retirement. They knew that not many children of farmers want to farm for a living and their farms were not worth a whole lot. Developers not allowed to build subdivisions in Green belt etc. One of our neighbours counted on his farm for old age but now that he has Parkinsons and is hospitalized he cannot sell his farm due to the wind turbine lease attached to his title. His kids will be stuck on a farm they won’t want to live on. The view in these hills of Creemore used to be worth 1.2 mil.
    NOT NOW! Good Luck with your meeting.

  14. Melodie, you have to feel for that poor bugger who’s building a massive home on the hill in Dunedin. It looks to be almost finished.

    I’m sure he spent a small fortune for the land because of the view and river below.

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