Clean, green energy. It’s quite a fad these days. Bioreactors, solar panels, wind turbines, and other forms of green energy are seen as a valuable tool in creating power, but also in promoting environmental stewardship.
While the potential for some of these forms of energy can’t be denied – solar energy for example is being adapted in everything right down to Christmas lights these days – residents of the West Lincoln area are rightly calling on the government, and the community, to review just how safe one particular form is — wind turbines.
Many people think wind turbines are a great idea, yet it’s likely a large proportion of these people would oppose a wind farm development close to their home. There is the noise pollution, visual impact, and now we are hearing from speakers at a recent meeting that there are also potential health factors that impact our body, and mind.
At a West Lincoln Wind Action Group (WLWAG) meeting last Wednesday, more than 400 people showed up to hear speakers share their first-hand experiences.
Stephana Johnston, 80, says she is forced to live in a trailer on her son’s property, 16 kilometres away from her home to find freedom from a “stuffy feeling” in her ears, and insomnia.
Keynote speaker Carmen Krough warned that lives have been changed “dramatically” and insomnia, anxiety and headaches are just some of the symptoms that can be related to the stress of having a turbine on a neighbouring property. Krough pointed to case studies, reports and anecdotes from people living around the world for her talk.
There appears to be no middle ground, however. Last December the Canadian Wind Energy Association said an international panel of experts concluded that sounds or vibrations emitted from wind turbines have no adverse effect on human health. Symptoms from what some call “wind turbine syndrome” are no different than symptoms observed in the general population from the day-to-day stresses of life, it found. These symptoms include headaches, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, and ringing in the ears.
While the industry and the action groups will remain at odds, one thing is crucial in this debate — the flow of information. The WLWAG has engaged the community, and has tried to educate and inform them.
Now, the proponents should step up and respond. A session from either the applicant, or a group like the CanWEA, about alleged health concerns or their claim wind energy has a clean bill of health, should be provided to give landowners a well-rounded, two-sided and more knowledgeable picture of what some of the experts’ findings are.