by Harvey Wrightman
The speaker leaned into the mike and in a voice heavy with authority said, “So every time you hear somebody complain about the health effects of a wind tower – cough at him.” It was easy to imagine the smirk on his face as he said it. In this day of information saturation and overload, most stuff just floats on by. But comments that are all smart-ass smugness have a way of pulling me out of my chair. And that’s how it was while listening to the podcast of a workshop held at the recent conference of Ontario Good Roads Association/Rural Ontario Municipal Association (OGRA/ROMA). The speaker was Ted Cowan, “policy researcher” for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). He has a PhD in Economics and speaks in a folksy old geezer, full of himself style.
With large swaths of SW Ontario now looking like an over-sized pin cushion, a rural resident would have to be brain dead not to have some apprehension for the future. No one talks about the grace and beauty of windmills and how it will bring in tourists anymore. Rural Ontario is now a brave new world of industrial fantasy.
So hated is this program and so sullen and fearful are residents, that there’s only 2 ways for government and the wind industry to force the program forward – money and/or the whip if you aren’t on board. That was essentially the message delivered by two of the three panelists at the ROMA/OGRA workshop. Ted Cowan and Randy Hope (mayor of Chatham/Kent) were the 2 bullies tagged for the operation.
In his presentation Cowan claimed that the Health Canada study found “… no health problems, no people in hospital, no people sick, no evidence of days off of work from wind related health problems. They did find it contributes to some sleep problems and irritation.”
But in the very next breath he turned completely around and said,”… And there is a fix. I believe that where there are homes that are significant problems they should either be bought or substantially insulated so that the problem goes away or is greatly reduced. But, the evidence on this is in. Further debate on it is waste of time and hiring 30 or 40 incredibly good medical researchers to look at this kind of problem is a waste of that kind of talent that we cannot afford.”
…and he went on:
“The criticisms (of green energy) have been property value, noise and the view for tens of thousands. So the priorities are pretty simple. You got millions getting a broad-scale improvement and tens of thousands putting up with a bit of a headache. The balance is pretty clear on that. And it’s clear then where the priority concerns lie. But the province has to move to minimize the harm for the tens of thousands, and I would say the province has not done enough of a job on that; but, they still have to get it right for the millions.”
Since Cowan’s statements were confusing, contradictory, insensitive and derogatory, I asked him for clarification, hoping for a little more balanced comment. This gave him another opportunity to spew more venom at those who are caught in the wind vortex: “There are physiological responses to wind towers. However it is my view that these are well enough known and affect a sufficiently small number of people that they do not warrant further public spending or the continued use of rare specialized talents that could assist in alleviating disease or illness from air pollution etc. that affects millions rather than dozens….They are wasting their time and the public’s money looking at headaches from wind towers. Put another way – For the cost of another health study, all affected families could have their homes noise proofed or be relocated…”
So, there you have it, if you are affected you can either add some pink bats for insulation or get out. He doesn’t say who is going to buy your farm or for how much, just that you should leave – “be relocated” as Cowan put it – more like forced eviction.
Cowan and the OFA have no desire to protect their members from wind companies. What sensible person pays a membership to an organization that orders people to basically quit ‘complaining’ and get the off their own property. Who would pay a cent for that?