Hang in there and carry on protesting
I want to reply to comments by the Minister of the Environment, John Wilkinson in the Aug. 12 issue of the Wellington Advertiser. In that article, Wilkinson tells the wind turbine foes: protest or participate, he urges opponents of wind turbines to “participate in the process instead of protesting.” May I remind the minister it was he and his government that shut us out of the process in the first place. Yes, we can attend the open houses, ask questions and voice concerns.
However, we, the individuals, and our municipal governments do not have a say in the final decision process.
For the last year, I have attended open houses, written letters to the minister and his colleagues, filled out surveys, and asked some very specific questions with respect to the installation of industrial wind turbines.
I have asked the wind companies and the government the following questions, among others, and not received direct answers only rhetoric.
– I would like clarification with respect to the science behind the setbacks from a residence such as 550 metres. Has that setback distance been reviewed with respect to the changing technology and height of the turbines? One would think a 300 foot turbine should have a different setback than a 500 foot high turbine.
– Where does the burden of liability lie should an incident happen with regard to the turbines; with the wind company (the tenant), or the farmer (the landlord)?
– Who develops protocols for the bird and bat counts? How often are they conducted, and who oversees that count?
Those are serious and legitimate questions. To date, I have received replies only repeating the government policy line, as the minister repeated in the article. The wind companies reply in a like manner. I have received no direct, definitive answers to my questions.
It is conceivable when individuals are unable to be part of the process and cannot get direct answers to concerns that they find other ways to get the authority’s attention.
I remind the minister once again it was he and his government that removed my rights and those that represent me, my municipality, from being part of the decision making process. Until those rights are restored, I have no recourse but to continue protesting in order to be heard.
Obviously the protesting is working, for the minister has reacted. Perhaps, some day this government may actually hear what we are saying.
So to protesters like myself, exercise the only avenue we have for making a difference; hang in there and carry on protesting.
Arlene Wright, BELWOOD
Concern for the health of the citizens of Ontario has taken a distant back seat
I read with interest the article Turbine Opponents, MPP disagree on report and I have something to add.
Ontario Liberals frequently trumpet their “noise limit of 40 decibels has been in place for over 30 years and meets the World Health Organization’s night-time noise guideline – which is protective of human health and a good night’s sleep.”
That Liberal noise limit is compromised by a leaked memo. A Ministry of the Environment officer states documented computer model output error rates compounding manufacturer sound level emission error rates has resulted in a sound variance that can range up to 45 decibels.
Therefore the 40 decibel noise limit touted by the Liberals is actually at a minimum a 45 decibel noise limit and perhaps up to a 50 decibel noise limit.
And finally, that Liberal 40 decibel noise limit is completely “blown” away by another leaked document, dated June 2009, written by yet another senior environmental officer.
“The most pressing and immediate issue is that Certificates of Approval (AIR) have been issued for wind turbines with noise emission compliance levels specified in the approval. MOE currently has no approved methodology for field measurement of the noise emission from multiple noise sources. As such, there is no way for MOE field staff (and I would submit anyone else), to confirm compliance or lack thereof with the noise limits set in the approvals.”
Despite the Liberal noise compliance claims, the World Health Organization does not advocate a 40 decibel noise level as being protective of human health and a good night’s sleep.
Further, the calculations the government is using to establish its 40 decibel level are flawed and can result in an actual decibel level of up to 50. And finally, all of the above is irrelevant as MOE field staff cannot measure the noise emissions in any case.
Sadly, it is clear that concern for the health of the citizens of Ontario has taken a distant back seat to whatever is motivating the Liberal Party to provide wind turbine project approvals, despite so much scientific and practical uncertainty in regards to Public Health and Compliance issues.
How to participate?
Mr. John Wilkinson has told the people with concerns about wind industrialization to protest or participate with the developers.
I’m not sure how this is possible when we know that wind energy has been a dismal failure in Europe resulting in significant economic hardship. How can we participate with multinational energy companies who plan to permanently defile the landscape?
How can we participate in a process that results in unprecedented bird kills and the slaughter of bats, nature’s most effective natural pesticide?
How can we support a government that misuses our tax dollars for electricity generation at any cost?
How can we condone skyrocketing electricity bills that will create a new generation of working poor?
How can we support a process that shuts out the municipalities and the democratic rights of the people?
It’s just not possible. I guess we’ll protest.
I know we will vote. A tyrant’s political life is short and self serving methods long remembered.
Janet Vallery, BELWOOD
Oct. 6 spanking
Dalton needs a spanking. The Liberal party is behaving like a typical school yard bully by enforcing its Green Energy Act with absolutely no regard for the health of the people living under the wind turbines.
Municipal officials are bantered about, citizen’s input is ignored, and the medical community is “pooh poohed” for being overly cautious. This bullying will stop when the recess bell rings on Oct. 6.
The ballot box will spank Dalton.
I am still waiting for a reply from a letter sent, dated Feb. 22, to John Wilkinson. Muzzled?
Jacobus deBock, ALMA
John Wilkinson has chided people for not “participating” with private energy companies about the industrial wind facilities they want to build.
On the contrary, Mr. Wilkinson should understand that communities and municipal councils have repeatedly tried to participate – they have met with and written to Mr. Wilkinson, met with and written to the developers, attended every single wind company meeting, and tried in vain to communicate valid concerns and questions.
The only response communities receive is, “This is the way it is and your concerns will not change things”. People don’t want to protest – they want to spend time being with their families and working for a living.
Mr. Wilkinson has completely ignored attempts by communities and municipalities to meaningfully participate in the planning process. Mr. Wilkinson has not represented the best interests of people, wildlife habitats, or communities.
Instead, Mr. Wilkinson has represented the interests of private energy companies and Dalton McGuinty’s political career.
Laura Humphrey, WELLINGTON CTY.
Step aside – now
I cannot understand why the current Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty and, in particular, MPP John Wilkinson, persist with the rhetoric about the Green Energy Act.
It makes no sense. No matter who you are, you cannot pay a high price for a good, such as electricity derived from wind or solar, and sell it for less, unless you are willing to run up the provincial deficit even higher than what it is today, or unless you are willing to tax (yes, I used the nasty T word again) through rapidly rising hydro bills.
Whether you live in Stratford, Listowel, Mount Forest, or anywhere else for that matter, the end result has to be the same. Why would the leaders of Canada’s most indebted province (Bloomberg News March 29, 2011) choose to take this path?
But for the sake of argument, let’s humour Mr. McGuinty for a moment, and as Mr. Wilkinson has done, play the environmental card.
That makes even less sense. How can you “paint yourself green” by building windmills and solar units when you are dependent upon the weather and need to construct backup power sources such as natural gas plants to sit on standby – just in case the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine. Duplicate systems – really gentlemen, who thought this stuff up?
If I were a Liberal strategist, I would be trying to hide all this from the voters and distance myself from the Green Energy Act, but perhaps it makes good politics, as did the 2003 and 2007 promises to not raise taxes – an issue to claim and spin to distract the voters from the real needs and concerns of the province.
Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. McGuinty you had your chance. It’s time to step aside.
Mark Wagner, SALEM
Re: the article Wilkinson tell the wind turbine foes: protest or participate.
Wow. I can’t believe the spin MPP John Wilkinson is putting on the industrial wind turbine fiasco, now that the election is nearing.
The opponents of industrial wind turbines are trying to “participate” but the provincial Liberals won’t listen, so we need to make our voice heard somehow.
Mr. Wilkinson mentions the “strict standards set out in the law” which we know is a predetermined process in favour of industrial wind turbine companies.
The legislation has been manipulated by the Liberals a number of times for the sole purpose of making it easier for foreign owned industrial wind turbine companies to sail through Ontario regulations.
Time and time again Ontario residents have asked pertinent questions and tried to “participate,” only to be given a canned response to their concerns by the Liberals.
The Green Energy Act is flawed in so many ways.
Anyone with grade 3 math can calculate that the cost of our electricity will soar under the Act.
We have lost our property rights since the act sets the standards where industrial wind turbine’s are placed, forcing neighbouring properties from choosing the plan for their own property.
Wake up, Mr. Wilkinson. You say that the choice is ours to “participate or protest.” Your Liberal government’s choice was to listen or not, and you have chosen to turn a deaf ear to the residents of Ontario.
Based on your actions, we will make our choice heard on Oct. 6.
Sandy Fellows, BELWOOD
MPP John Wilkinson says participate instead of protest the installation of industrial wind turbines.
I have participated and I have been ignored and only ever given a canned response. I was a supporter of large scale wind energy and did research on whether or not I should sign a lease on my farm, and I came across the other side of the issue. I thought I should investigate the other side. I talked to people near large scale operations, investigated the legislation, discussed with others the economic aspects, and researched the complicated and very confusing structure of the multinational wind turbine companies.
I made an informed decision. Industrial wind operations are something I will not support.
The current Liberal government made sly changes to the Green Energy Act to accommodate wind turbine companies so they can be successful. Dalton McGuinty and Wilkinson have disguised that as a publicly responsible and progressive legislation for the future of Ontario. It is not.
Does anyone care the government is tromping on my property rights and future? Will you be next on their list? Who gets to decide where on my 100 acre farm I can build my new home. Me? No. The township? No. The industrial wind company will tell me they have plans to install a turbine within a certain distance of my farm, and my future plans to put a home in my chosen location will be trumped.
The wind turbine company will decide the location of my home so as not to compromise the future placement of their wind turbine. I intend to build in a new location once my daughters are done university. My life plans are changed because a company that likely has huge oil interests wants to use the free ride in Ontario at the expense of all Ontario’s taxpayers and rural residents property rights.
In my informed opinion all they really want is the carbon offsets for their oil interests. Mr. Wilkinson, I will participate by using my vote against you, voting out the Liberals.
I have only touched on my personal situation here which is a disservice to the thousands of farms, families and small communities destroyed by ill thought out and greed filled “progress.”
Hmm….I wonder what past Liberal politicians and cronies are up to, and if there are any connections to these wind turbine companies. Just sayin’ and just participating.
Heather Johnston, BELWOOD
We will participate
Re: “Wilkinson to wind turbine foes: protest or participate in process.”
After reading the article we are puzzled and perplexed. Mr. Wilkinson seems to imply we are not interested in alternate forms of energy.
We are not opposed, as long as it is done in a manner that does not harm people or their livelihoods.
We make every attempt to conserve – geothermal heating in our farm houses, energy saving appliances, we use a clothesline most of the time, and we do not light up every room in the house. Are we participating or protesting?
We have spent many along with most of our neighbours, researching aspects of wind turbines, seeking the truth about potential effects on our health as well as our livestock and our livelihoods. John Wilkinson is telling us to become involved rather than protest.
How do we participate when a proponent comes to the door with misleading statements to lure us into signing a contract?
We participated by choosing to find the truth, by researching the issues of turbines and the Green Energy Act. We attended all the meetings hosted by the proponent, only to have most of our questions answered inadequately or not at all.
What about our health? The rehearsed answer: “We operate over 9,000 turbines all over North America with no documented problems.” They refused, however, to guarantee our health will not be affected.
We chose to participate by researching and found there are health issues with turbines, and in further research we found there are problems with their “9,000 turbines.”
What about our livestock? Their answer “agriculture and turbines are very compatible,” yet in their renewable energy application we read cattle, particularly dairy cattle, are sensitive to stray voltage.
We were told stray voltage is not their problem but that of Hydro One. With 98 residences within 1,500m of the proposed turbines in Mapleton, and 1,400 dairy cattle and 7,300 hogs housed within 1,600m, these issues are of great concern.
Neither the proponent nor our government have been forthcoming. We participated by researching and found stray voltage, low frequency noise, and electromagnetic fields can be a problem for livestock.
Shouldn’t all this have been done before turbines are considered? These consultation meetings Mr. Wilkinson refers to are not consultation meetings but windy trade shows; there is no consulting taking place.
Mr. Wilkinson was invited to attend a “consultation meeting,” but did not do so. Many attempts were made by us and others to contact the proponent for most of 2010, only to be ignored. Is this participating or consulting?
Questions brought to Mr. Wilkinson’s office, as well as other ministries, remain unanswered. He has been heard saying he is always interested in reviewing new data – well there are nine new peer reviewed studies available and we would be happy to give them to you, except we are still waiting for a meeting.
We spent hours reviewing the application and saw errors, contradictions, omissions and misleading statements. We participated by asking questions and making our comments to the MOE.
We spent many hours seeking the truth and finding some of our answers, only to hear Mr. Wilkinson and his government had the truth and answers all along, but chose to hide them.
Just what does it mean to participate or to protest? Just who is protesting and who is participating?
We will participate on Oct. 6.
John and Diana Krul, ARTHUR