By HEATHER RIVERS, Oxford Sentinel-Review
OXFORD CENTRE — It is home to birds and bats and, during their annual migration, hundreds of Monarch butterflies descend on his rural property.
Owner John Eacott says he has lived happily on his 2.4-hectare (six acre) Curries Road spread since 1973.
But what Eacott is not happy about is a proposed wind turbine project that, when completed, will be located about one kilometre from his home.
Eacott worries how the 10-turbine project, which will stretch across 12 properties on Gunn’s Hill Road, will affect humans, livestock and wildlife.
While the project is currently stalled while the developer waits for a contract from the Ontario Power Authority, the delay is likely temporary.
“There are a long list of health concerns,” Eacott said. “There is all kinds of evidence saying that wind turbines cause health problems.
“The government doesn’t want to face it.”
Eacott was one of about 125 concerned citizens who turned out for a Tuesday evening meeting sponsored by the East Oxford Community Alliance in the Oxford Centre community hall to examine issues surrounding wind turbines.
Joan Morris, co-organizer of the meeting and a director with the alliance, said the organization’s main goal is protecting the community.
“Our main concerns is protecting the health of our community in general,” she said. “There are effects in other locations on health, property values and viability of agricultural operations — like livestock operations.”
Both David Colling, an expert in electrical pollution, and Carmen Krogh, a retired pharmacist and former Health Canada employee, spoke at the event.
“My main concern is we’re moving too quickly with wind turbine farms without having done front-end studies to people to determine safe distances,” Krogh said. “What we’re finding is families living near turbines are experiencing symptoms like sleep disturbances. Chronic sleep disturbances leads to other medical conditions such as cardiac symptoms, blood pressure problems and nausea.”
Morris said landowners who signed contracts with Prowind Canada, and representatives from Prowind did not attend the meeting.
The meeting came in the wake of a new report by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Arlene King.
“According to the scientific evidence, there isn’t any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects,” King said in the report released last week.
King prepared the report in consultation with the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health.
The report concluded that, while some people living close to wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbances, the scientific evidence doesn’t show a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
The minimum setback for wind projects in Ontario is 550 metres, with noise levels not to exceed 40 decibels at the nearest residence. According to the report, forty decibels is approximately the noise level experienced at a quiet office or library.
“The sound from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other adverse health effects, but it may annoy some people,” the report stated.
But, Krogh maintained, “annoyance is a health issue.” “Annoyance is an adverse health effect,” she said.