Medical Officer of Health believes wind turbine setbacks should be longer

Dr. Hazel Lynn

By Sara Bender, Lucknow Sentinel

The Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health believes the setbacks for wind turbines should be longer.

Dr. Hazel Lynn told Huron-Kinloss Twp. council at the Aug. 16 township meeting that she would recommend longer setbacks for wind turbines. She said she thinks it’s wrong that municipal councils are unable to determine the setbacks.

Lynn said that, within buildings, Low Frequency Noise (LFN) which comes from wind turbines, could cause health affects, such as inner-ear problems. She said those affects would be less if the setbacks were longer than the provincial setback of 550 metres. She added that symptoms are the same around the world but the problem is that not much is known about wind turbines.

“I think we should stop putting (wind turbines) in until we know more about them,” said Lynn, at the council meeting.

The following day, Lynn told an Owen Sound Sun Times reporter that her comments were misquoted from the council meeting on a local radio station. “What I probably said is we should have longer setbacks, and if you can’t have longer setbacks, well, then maybe we shouldn’t be having them (more wind turbine developments) right now.”

She said European research is ahead of that being done in Canada and minimum setbacks there are between 1.2 and 1.5 kilometers. Europeans are concerned about low frequency sound waves, which are amplified in hilly terrain.

“Basically at this point in Canada, we’re not measuring those things. To say that they can’t hear it so it doesn’t affect you isn’t quite true, probably,” she said. “I suggested to Huron-Kinloss that if I was making the decision — which I’m not — and if I was putting in more wind turbines, I’d want them at least a kilometre or a kilometre and a half distance.”

Also, Huron-Kinloss council was asked to participate in a joint meeting with the Municipality of Huron East and any other municipalities affected by proposed wind farms.

Huron East Council received a request to pass regulations controlling development of wind farms and Huron East was asked to create a bylaw regulating LFN. The Huron East Council is hoping to discuss the feasibility of investigating a LFN bylaw or some other forms of regulations with other municipalities.

Coun. Don Murray said Huron East would take the “test” LFN bylaw to a judge to see if it would stand up in court. He added his support to participate in a joint meeting with other municipalities.

“I agree, we should be participating in these meeting. A low frequency noise bylaw could be a benefit to us,” said Coun. Jim Hanna.

Murray agreed to take part in the meetings. He is also representing the municipality on a Windmill Working Group with Arran-Elderslie. At the July council meeting, Murray and Coun. Anne Eadie was appointed as representatives on the working group. However, since that time, Eadie has indicated she can no longer sit on the committee. Mayor Mitch Twolan agreed to sit on the committee in her place.

Meanwhile, township residents continue to express their concern to council with letters about the Bluewater Wind Power Project that could see 50 wind turbines located between Hwy. 21 and Lake Range Drive.

“This could become a reality in the near future, we just don’t know,” said Coun. Anne Eadie, at the township council meeting on Aug. 16.

Eadie said offshore wind turbines are regulated under the Green Energy Act. She said any offshore development could have a negative effect on tourism in the municipality and the county.

“The provincial government has control over issues along the shore, but the federal government has jurisdiction over of the lake,” said Eadie.

Administrator Mary Rose Walden told council that the Ministry of Environment: Renewable Energy website shows a map illustrating wind turbine applications proposed in Lake Huron, from Kincardine to Goderich. Walden said staff is trying to verify the application.

Council also received a letter from The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation giving their position statement for Offshore Wind Projects on Lake Huron. The letter, signed by the Coastal Conservation Chair Matt Pearson, was developed to assist the township in the decision making process on offshore wind turbine projects if required. The position statement reads that:

• Prior notice and consultation should occur on a lake wide basis for all offshore proposals on Lake Huron. It is crucial that meaningful public participation be provided. In this regard, First Nation consultation is considered vital.

• The Province of Ontario and Government of Canada fund independent research in the areas of coastal processes, aquatic ecology, coastal engineering, beach and shore ecology to determine the potential impacts of offshore wind mills on the offshore, nearshore and onshore ecosystems, system communities and species, coastal geomorphology.

• Proposed offshore wind projects should be reviewed with comprehensive analysis. Engineering and ecological consultants need to undertake primary research (modeling, measuring and counting) to determine whether the proposed undertakings will result in negative impacts on water quality (including re-suspension of contaminated sediments) and the physical and biological features and processes associated with any offshore proposal. In addition, the promotion of invasive species colonization from lakebed alteration should be investigated.

• The lead federal agencies should initiate, as early in the planning process as possible for any proposed wind project on one of the lakes, intergovernmental consultation with all government agencies who might be directly and substantially affected by an offshore wind project – or involved in any capacity – to ensure that issues and concerns at all phases of the project, including decommissioning, are identified and adequately addressed.

• If deemed to be feasible that it is possible to construct these structures without significant impacts, it is also necessary to identify impacts and measures related to:

– Ongoing operation, including, but not limited to: Concern over possible leaks of lubricant fluid; methods of winter repairs under ice conditions; aesthetic issues related to light and fog horns which have the potential to cause visual, noise and light pollution; concern over vibrations and electromagnetic fields emitted from cables transferring power from off-shore sites, and their effect on aquatic communities and any people who live nearby.

– Potential damage from wind, waves, ice and lightning.

– Eventual dismantling and end of life removal. Decommissioning and removal of turbine components, including blades, nacelle, tower and containerized transformer, is anticipated to be largely a reversal of the installation process and should be subject to the same constraints. Operational wastes associated with routine maintenance, repair, upgrades and/or decommissioning must be properly handled, stored, transported and disposed of at a licensed facility that complies with applicable regulations.