Halt approval process on Otter Creek wind farm, citizens say

Samples of sediment laden water. “Cold-blooded MOECC” [Photo: Chris Ensing CBC]

“Black Water” in wells in nearby North Kent has residents concerned about water safety and wind turbine construction. The lesson from Walkerton is that the MOECC is responsible for water quality, they say

February 5, 2018

Citizens’ group Water Wells First is calling the Ontario government decision to allow temporary water tanks to be removed from North Kent homes without water supply is “cold-blooded.”

Last week, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) informed residents that the results of the Ministry’s own testing of the water that is so sediment-laden some samples appear black, showed that water quality has “deteriorated” but that there is no association with wind turbine construction and pile driving.

“It’s a strong arm tactic,” said Water Wells First Kevin Jakubec at a news conference held this afternoon at one local farm that has been without water for months.

Residents in nearby Wallaceburg are extremely concerned as the proposed Otter Creek wind power project will be on the same Kettle Point Black Shale geology as the North Kent project.

“The Ministry response to the damaged well in North Kent is not good enough,” says Violet Towell, spokesperson for community group Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns. “The deterioration of water quality in these wells didn’t just happen. As Mr Justice O’Connor confirmed in his 2002 report on the Walkerton water tragedy, the MOECC has responsibility for ensuring a safe water supply in Ontario — they should not stop investigating until they find out what is going on here.”

The Wallaceburg group says that the Otter Creek project should not receive a Renewable Energy Approval until the well water situation in North Kent is “thoroughly investigated and resolved,” says Towell.

It is a condition of Renewable Energy Approvals that “adverse effects” must be prevented; these are described in the Environmental Prevention Act, Section 1 (1) and include “adverse effect on the health of any person,” “impairment of the safety of any person,” “rendering any property or plant or animal unfit for human use,” and “loss of enjoyment of the normal use of property.”

To contact the Wallaceburg group: WAWC@kent.net

 

 

 

Unnecessary hardship: community groups speak out on legal action vs MOECC

Citizens’ groups head to court over MOECC failure to protect safety, health

January 29, 2018

Following the announcement last Thursday that four citizens’ groups* in Ontario are taking legal action against the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) over the noise from planned wind power projects, the groups involved have issued statements relative to each of their own local situations.

“We’re not taking this step lightly,” commented Bonnie Rowe, spokesperson for Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, the applicant in this suit. “We estimate that these five proposed wind power projects will be out of compliance with noise levels as soon as they go online. In the Dutton Dunwich case, the majority of the proposed turbines, as well as the transformer, will likely produce noise over the MOECC maximum allowable levels. That is just unacceptable, especially to the many citizens living nearby, who will be forced to endure that noise.”

 “The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont are in complete support of this legal challenge,” said spokesperson Margaret Benke. “Protection of the health and safety for more than 1,200 local residents is our main concern. We feel that the MOECC must be held to account.”

Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save the Nation, says “By allowing the construction of the Eastern Fields project and using only outdated noise regulations, the MOECC would deny protection of health and wellbeing for hundreds of local residents, for the next 20 years. We strongly feel that this is unacceptable.”

“Based on what information the public has been provided so far, it appears most of the turbines [in the Otter Creek project] will be out of compliance” said Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns spokesperson, Violet Towell. “We believe many Wallaceburg and area citizens will suffer unnecessary hardship if this project is allowed to continue, and we fully endorse this judicial review.”

For more information on the legal action, contact lawyer Eric Gillespie at 416-436-7473 (phone/text)

 

See a news report from the CBC here.

 

* The four community groups launching this legal action are members of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition

 

 

Wallaceburg citizens demand public meeting for answers on Otter Creek wind power project

With few details on how a fragile geology will be affected by wind turbine construction, and no information on noise assessments of turbines that are just prototypes, citizens are worried about water supply, health and safety

Water from Dover area wells showing sediment. The same geology is present for the Otter Creek project. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
January 21, 2018

 Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns

News Release

Community Group demands a reset of the Otter Creek application

Citizens’ group Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns (WAWC) has asked the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to halt the Otter Creek application process until all the missing data is complete, to follow the REA process for public input, and to hold another public meeting to present this information to the community.

The group sent a letter to the MOECC Tuesday via its lawyer.

Executive members of WAWC met with representatives of power developer Boralex and members of CK council December 7. At that meeting, WAWC learned that the noise assessment data for the as yet untested Enercon turbines was not complete, and there was no timetable for when it would be available.  Boralex also indicated that the developer is considering another option for the turbine foundations, and that geo-technical testing was being planned, but again there was no date for the testing.

“We’re very concerned that there is not enough information for two critical aspects of this power project, noise and the foundations,” says Violet Towell , WAWC spokesperson. “We have asked repeatedly for the facts about the effect of the noise from these huge turbines on residents, and what the impact on water wells will be from construction and vibration during operation.”

In spite of the lack of information that is clearly required for the Renewable Energy Approval for this power project, requests for a public meeting have been denied.

Last week, residents in the Wallaceburg area were shocked to learn that pile driving had begun at a number of sites for the Otter Creek project. The developer had sent letters to a handful of residents with limited information and even more limited notice.  Most of the larger community was uninformed of the activity by Boralex.

WAWC has questioned the choice of project site in an area where the soil conditions are not conducive to wind turbine construction, and also so near a town of 10,000 people. The developer’s response to WAWC was to confirm that the site was “far,far from ideal” but the company proceeded because Chatham-Kent was so accommodating.

“The Otter Creek power project must not be approved until residents of our community have accurate information about this project,” says Towell.   “There are many compelling questions not answered, key information that is missing, and changing project details. In order to protect our health, our homes and our community, we want answers now.”

Contact: WAWC@kent.net

Stephana Johnston “wind warrior” passes away

Stephana Johnston at a fund-raising supper for the Drennan case

January 11, 2018

It is with deep sadness that Wind Concerns Ontario announces the passing of one of its staunchest members and Board member, Stephana Johnston.

Stephana had lived for years among the wind turbines in the Cultus-Clear Creek-Frogmore wind power project, developed by AIM PowerGen, and was one of the forst people in Ontario to experience symptoms from exposure to the vibration and noise emissions.

She fought back.

She presented information countless times to municipal councils, attended appeals before the Environmental Review Tribunal, and drove long distances to communities across Ontario to support people in their fight against the unwanted power projects. She was featured in numerous news articles including one published by the Globe and Mail.

A committed environmentalist, she ran for office as an MP for the Green Party in Haldimand-Norfolk, promoting “healthy communities” and “renewable energy.”

In a recent message to Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, Stephana wrote:

” … bless all the unsung wind warriors who are still strong in their resistance to IWTs and the harm they heap on those surrounded by them.”

 

As soon as we receive the formal notice from the family, we will publish it here.

 

Challenges ahead in 2018 for social, environmental justice in Ontario

House Finch on Amherst Island: industrial-scale wind power development can’t trump environmental protection

January 1, 2018

Best wishes to all for the year ahead.

The Ontario government is still processing five wind power contracts awarded under the 2016 Large Renewable Procurement I (LRP I), despite concerns about the environment and health and the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power. With thousands of noise complaints recorded with the government unresolved, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) refuses to acknowledge that it has a problem, and refuses to look for causes, relying instead on its clearly inadequate set of regulations.

One of our favourite quotes in 2017 came from a hydrogeologist who pointed out, referring to the problems with water wells in Chatham-Kent, if you have a model that says you’re not going to have problems, then you experience problems, then it’s the model that is wrong.

The fact that wind power development on the industrial or utility scale has many significant problems — energy poverty, environmental damage, adverse health effects, negative impact on rural communities — is now better understood by the people in Ontario, and the media. In 2017, two major networks, Global News and Radio-Canada, carried multi-part investigative reports this past year. The three-part Global News feature spurred questions in the Legislature and forced the then-minister to act on noise complaints for several Huron County families.

The Huron County public health follow-up of noise complaints was finally launched by the Health Unit there; other health units are watching attentively. We believe 2018 will be the year when the Government of Ontario is forced to live up to its mandate and take steps to protect the health of its residents.

And, the legal battles continue, with actions taking place both inside the legislated appeal process for wind power projects, and in the courts. There have been victories: there will be more.

In her Christmas Message this year, the Queen spoke of the importance of “home”:  ” … the idea of home reaches beyond a physical building, to a home town or city,” she said.

We in Ontario think of our “home” as being our communities, the landscape, the natural environment — indeed, the entire province and all the people in it. We will continue to fight for justice for the environment and for families this year.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

Please join us: click on the Join/Donate button above.

MOECC: Christmas fun! (but not for you, North Kent)

December 23, 2017

No automatic alt text available.
Somebody at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change headquarters on St Clair Avenue in downtown Toronto must have thought this was funny … and a way to use Christmas (because Christmas is there to be used for political purposes, isn’t it?) in the government’s “use-tap-water-not-bottles” campaign.
Employing social media Facebook and Twitter, the MOECC came out with a retro graphic asking people to leave Santa a glass of good old Ontario tap water this Christmas… it’s so good, it’s better than milk!
The campaign betrays a complete lack of awareness and/or sympathy for the plight of people in Chatham-Kent, whose water wells have been damaged, possibly by nearby wind turbine construction. Their homes, and the wind power project, are located on Kettle Point Black Shale and now, particles of that bedrock, which contains arsenic and other elements that should not be ingested, are present in their water. So much so, the water in some areas resembles chocolate milk, and the sludge is so thick that filtration systems have failed.
In response, the MOECC relies on the power developer; the power developer says its consultant assures them whatever happened to the wells isn’t their fault. Meanwhile, experts differ. If you have a model that predicts you won’t have problems,  but then you have problems, it is the model that is probably at fault, geologic scientist Keith Benn told a Wallaceburg audience at a public meeting recently.
So now, at Christmastime, at least 14 families cannot turn on THEIR taps for fresh, clean, Ontario water … but the government ministry in charge of protecting the environment and their health takes no action, and instead spends time thinking up Christmas jokes.
The government, and Minister Chris Ballard should be ashamed.

MOECC reps stun audience with views on wind turbine noise

Municipal officials told wind turbine noise no worse than barking dogs, no action planned

MOECC officials actually compared noise emissions from large-scale wind power generators, including harmful low-frequency noise, to barking dogs. A failure to regulate

December 16, 2017

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) position on wind turbine noise is that they don’t pose a health problem.

That’s the conclusion from remarks made by Owen Sound District Manager Rick Chappell and District Supervisor Andrew Barton, speaking to the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group in Chesley this past week.

The two MOECC managers said repeatedly indicated that they are just messengers: the MOECC’s Technical Assessment and Standards Branch is responsible for establishing the Ministry’s position on wind turbine noise and providing “advice” to local District staff when they respond to queries.

Bottom line: we don’t believe you

In their presentation and responding to questions from municipal officials in the Multi-Municipal working group, the MOECC officials outlined key elements of the MOECC position on wind turbine noise.

  1. They agree that wind turbines can cause annoyance. Contrary to medical literature, however, they do not use “annoyance” as a medical term denoting stress or distress. They actually compared annoyance caused by barking dogs to residents’ reactions to wind turbine noise. *
  2. The MOECC managers insisted the literature did not demonstrate any direct health effects from wind turbine noise, when asked about health studies and reviews on turbine noise. Despite evidence of indirect health effects raised, the staff comments repeatedly indicate the MOECC is narrowly focused on direct health effects.
  3. The MOECC takes a one-sided view of the Health Canada study which according to these officials only found that there was no link between wind turbine noise and health impacts. This statement ignores the second half of the findings which confirmed a link between reported health effects experienced over 12 months and wind turbine noise. They also do not seem to be aware of the findings released to WCO which indicated that annoyance starts at 35 dBA, not the 40 dBA used in Ontario.
  4. Their view of the Council of Canadian Academies report was similarly selective. They downplayed the key finding of this review which was that there is sufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and annoyance in the medical sense. Also not mentioned were the issues highlighted about measurements of wind turbine noise using A-weighted tools which fail to capture low frequency components of wind turbine noise. The Council noted that averaging measurements over time does not convey changes in sound pressure levels occurring in short periods.
  5. In terms of low frequency noise and infrasound, the MOECC representatives relied on a statement from Health Canada that levels of these emissions were found to be below levels that would expect to result in harm to human health. When questioned, however, they were not able to quantify what the MOECC considered “safe” levels of infrasound, or when the MOECC would be acquiring equipment that is capable of measuring emissions at frequencies below 20 Hz.
  6. Members of the Working Group countered by referring to research that conflicted with the MOECC statements. The response from Chappell and Barton was that the Technical Assessment and Standards Development branch reviews emerging research, but limits its assessments to peer-reviewed articles in “respected” journals.
  7. In the MOECC presentation, staff said the 2016 Glasgow International Wind Turbine Noise Conference supported their position on infrasound and health effects. This prompted the Technical Advisor to the group — who actually attended the conference — to inform them that he sent 14 papers presented at this conference to the Ministry, because the conclusions do not support the Ministry’s position.
  8. Chappell and Barton did not seem to be aware of the work of Dr. Neil Kelly at NASA in the mid-1970s on low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines, even though it was published in respected peer-reviewed journals and presented at U.S. wind industry conferences.
  9. Residents affected by wind turbine noise were present in the audience. One from Grey Highlands asked when the Ministry was going to respond to the noise assessments at his home that had been provided to the Ministry. No response timeline was provided. Another asked for the position of the MOECC on people who had to move from their homes because of the impact of the noise from nearby wind turbines. The response was that the MOECC has no position except to repeat that there is no direct link between wind turbine noise and health issues.

Members of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group did not appear to be satisfied with the answers provided by the Ministry officials; several follow-up activities are planned.

MOECC failing as regulator: WCO

Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson says these remarks are either a sign of “stunning ignorance, or a calculated policy by the MOECC to ignore and even demean what is happening to people in Ontario.”

Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says there is a great deal of evidence in the health literature about the range of noise emissions produced by large-scale wind turbines, and growing international concern about adverse health effects.

“Of course there are health effects,” Wilson said. “That’s why we have setbacks between turbines and homes in the first place. This Ministry refuses to acknowledge it has a problem and take appropriate action — it is failing the people of Ontario as a regulator.”

MOECC managers Rick Chappell (4th from left), Andrew Barton at December 14th meeting: their answers didn’t satisfy the committee [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

*CanWEA in a 2011 news release acknowledged that a percentage of people can be annoyed by wind turbines, and the trade association said that when annoyance has a significant impact on quality of life, “it is important that they consult their doctor. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also describes noise-induced annoyance in legislation as a situation that “can have major consequences, primarily to one’s health.”

Residents, municipality fed up with MOECC on turbine noise complaints

“Years of testing, but never any results”

http://london.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1282268

December 12, 2017

A Kincardine area couple has filed hundreds of formal reports of excessive noise and vibration from nearby wind turbines with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), but has never had any resolution of the problem.

CTV’s Scott Miller interviewed the Walpole family and learned of their plight. The vibrations in the home are so strong, they said, light bulbs come loose in their sockets.

The Walpoles have filed more than 200 reports with the government and are told testing is ongoing, but somehow, the tests are never completed, and the problem continues.

The Municipality of Kincardine is frustrated by the MOECC’s apparent inaction and failure to resolve residents’ problems, says the Mayor in the CTV interview.

Last week, a representative of the MOECC appeared before Kincardine Council to answer questions on the situation. Rick Chappell, manager in the Owen Sound District Office, claimed there was a backlog in the Ministry’s processing of reports.

The wind power project in Kincardine has been operating for more than eight years.

Earlier this year, Wind Concerns Ontario received documents from the MOECC with records and staff notes on wind turbine noise reports to the Ministry, which showed that there was no response to more than half the complaints made and in fat, only one percent received a “priority response.” The Ministry was aware of hundreds of complaints even before the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, which facilitated the development of even more utility-scale or industrial-scale wind power projects in Ontario.

At present, with thousands of unresolved reports of noise and vibration, and questions of interference with water supply, the MOECC is in the process of considering Renewable Energy Approvals for five more projects.

 

The recording of Mr Chappell’s appearance before Kincardine Council is now available here, after minute 11.

 

Backlogged on wind farms, short of resources MOECC official admits

MOECC District Manager Rick Chappell explains backlog, lack of response to noise complaints to Kincardine Council

December 7, 2017

KINCARDINE—

In response to an invitation from Council for the Municipality of Kincardine, a senior manager with Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change confirmed to Council that nothing is being done about the hundreds of recent noise complaints about a local wind power project.

Rick Chappell, manager of the Owen Sound District Office, told Council that there is no completed audit of compliance with noise regulations for the Enbridge Underwood project. This is despite the fact the facility has been operating since 2007, and the audit was requested by the Ministry in response to early complaints about excess noise emissions.

His presentation also acknowledged adverse health effects from the noise and vibration produced by wind turbines, including low frequency noise and infrasound. When questioned, he stated that there is no peer-reviewed evidence that infrasound causes direct health effects.  He was unable to provide an answer when the Councillor followed up with a question asking if there were indirect health effects.

Chappell provided details of the long history of incomplete audit submissions for the Enbridge project. The earlier submissions were deemed to still be incomplete under the new protocol and the company has submitted additional data to meet the requirements with the last submission taking place on November 15.  He indicated that Enbridge has been given a commitment of expedited processing and they expect a decision on whether their submissions are complete by mid-December.  Analysis of their data would follow that decision.

The post-construction audit for the nearby Armow project was submitted three months ago and is under review in Toronto. At present, he said, that he could not provide an update on the assessment of this audit except to indicate that there has been no decision and he was not aware of the timeline for a decision.

The fact is, Chappell admitted, the Ministry group reviewing the audit reports has large backlog of reports submitted by the project operators from across Ontario based on the new noise testing protocol.

Chappell advised Council that the new protocol recommends that noise audit submissions are only made public once they are accepted by the MOECC. This is statement does not align with the protocol which actually requires posting of submissions to the Ministry be posted on the project website within 10 business days of the submission to the District Manager.  Neither Enbridge nor the Armow submissions have been posted.

Once a compliance audit is underway, the MOECC stops responding to complaints from residents living in the project until the results of the audit are known. In his view, the potential for non-compliance has already been identified and until this situation is resolved, there is no point in additional testing. This approach applies to the Enbridge project even though the audit process started in December 2011 and is still not complete.

Once Councillor questioned the whole compliance audit process, indicating she believed that the process is designed to generate results that showed compliance. Her concern was the more than 500 complaints from residents of the Enbridge project that are now essentially being ignored by the MOECC.  Even if the project was found to be in compliance, she was looking for action on these complaints based on the approval held by Enbridge. Chappell’s answer did not satisfy the residents in the audience.

Chappell indicated that compliance audit process was posted for public comment prior to the release of the April 2017. This statement overlooks many citizen submissions regarding flaws in the old process, including a lengthy brief from WCO, which were ignored by the MOECC meaning that the flaws in the original process were not connected and the audit process excludes situations that generate any resident complaints about noise emissions from wind turbines.

Another Councillor questioned what steps that the MOECC would take if, hypothetically the audit process found the project to be out of compliance. Chappell indicated that the MOECC would ask the company to submit a mitigation plan to address the issues.  Changes could be reduced operating speeds, shut-downs of problem turbines in specific wind conditions or times of the day.  When pressed about the time required for this type of plan to be developed, implemented and approved by the Ministry, Chappell suggested that it would be weeks rather than months.

The situation is similar to many other wind power projects in Ontario where complaints have been filed by residents for years, with no resolution and in some cases, no action by the Ministry. Documents released under Freedom of Information to Wind Concerns Ontario show that there are now at least 500 formal reports of excessive noise and vibration from the Armow wind turbines.

The wind turbine in Port Elgin, operated by union Unifor, is also the subject of hundreds of complaints with no resolution — and no valid noise audit. “You are the regulator,” Deputy Mayor Luc Charbonneau has told the MOECC. “You are failing to regulate.”

Wind farm opposition roars: Radio-Canada special report

December 6, 2017

Wind turbines: the opposition roars

Special Report by ICI Radio-Canada

Since 1995, more than 2,500 wind turbines have appeared in the Ontario landscape, but the green label attached to them is strongly criticized in some communities that are mobilizing to oppose the development of new projects. The problem is that these citizens do not always feel listened to by the public authorities.

Reportage and photos: Nicolas Pham
Text: Marine Lefevre
Infographics: Vincent Wallon

In 2014, the small community of Dutton-Dunwich, near London, rejected 84% of the proposed installation of 20 wind turbines on the territory of the municipality by a US multinational.

A plebiscite that does not prevent the provincial government from giving initial approval to Invenergy’s plan in 2017.

In Dutton-Dunwich, it’s incomprehension and anger.

“Everyone is furious. All my neighbors are really worried. I do not think we can compromise. I do not want these structures 200 m high next to me, “says Kristen Scheele, a resident who feels betrayed by the fact that the voice of the population is not respected.

“When, in the democratic process, the rights of a minority outweigh the rights of the majority? ” – Kirsten Scheele 

A feeling shared by the mayor of the city, who has been fighting the idea since the beginning.

“We do not want it. My fellow citizens are frustrated that they are not being listened to and are concerned that their concerns are not being addressed, “said Cameron McWilliam.

At a public information meeting organized by Invenergy in October 2017, members of the Dutton / Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines Group (DDOTW) say that wind turbines are bad for the environment, for the economy and for themselves.

What they absolutely want to avoid is that their fate is identical to that of the neighboring municipality of Lakeshore, where a park of 100 wind turbines was built in 2016 against the advice of the population and the municipal council.

“Council passed a motion saying we had our share of wind turbines and we did not want more,” said Mayor Tom Baine. The government’s response has been: they are coming! ” – Tom Baine, Lakeshore Mayor 

Why ignore the opinion of citizens and elected officials?

According to provincial legislation, the support of a community where wind turbines are built is desirable, but it is not essential.

“While community support can increase the chances of a project receiving a contract, there are many factors that affect its bid … Even though municipal and community support is an important factor in the evaluation. project proposals, it is not mandatory, “says the ministry by email.

A situation that many elected officials deplore, including Jeff Yurek, Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.

“With the Green Energy Act, the government has removed the autonomy of the municipalities, so that it can decide where it [puts] these renewable energy projects. It does not matter if a city or village is a voluntary host or not. ” – Jeff Yurek, Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London 

While more than 2,500 wind turbines have been built in Ontario since 1995, the number of housing starts has accelerated since 2009, when the Green Energy Act came into force.

But why do whole communities refuse ecological and sustainable energy?

In spite of the positive label attached to this so-called green energy, it is criticized for several inconveniences.

“People who live near these huge machines have problems. They are noisy, blink and vibrate with a vibration you can feel from your home, “says Jane Wilson of Wind Concerns Ontario, a citizen organization that provides information on the potential impact of wind power generation on the environment, economy, human health and the natural environment.

“A majority of our residents are against, they do not see their interest. They make noise and pose health risks, “said Lakeshore Mayor Tom Baine.

The situation of contaminated artesian wells in the Chatham-Kent area is also bothering citizens.

“When that happens, you can not go back, you can not fix it,” says Wilson.

For Kristen Scheele of Dutton, well water in Chatham and thousands of noise complaints are all sources of concern and questioning.

It worries me a lot about whether they really protect the public interest – Kristen Scheele, a resident of Dutton-Dunwich.

According to reports obtained under the Access to Information Act, thousands of complaints about wind turbines have been filed with the Ministry of the Environment, which, for the time being, has made no followed.

“The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has clearly not fulfilled its mandate in dealing with complaints in this area,” said Dutton-Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam.

PROBLEMS TAKEN SERIOUSLY?

In the wind sector, it is said that the concerns of residents are taken into consideration while complying with the requirements of the legislation, which was developed from scientific studies. A regulatory distance of 550 m is required for the installation of wind turbines near homes. Wind turbines must also comply with stringent sound standards.

“If, at a point in time, wind turbines exceed the noise threshold, the department has put in place a compliance mechanism to ensure that the impacts are mitigated,” says Brandy Giannetta, Regional Director of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

For its part, the Ministry of the Environment claims to take all complaints seriously. “Our priority is to protect public health and the environment by promoting and ensuring compliance with departmental rules and requirements,” reads an email.

The ministry ensures that systematic monitoring is done to ensure that wind farms comply with all provincial requirements.

“When a complaint is registered, the ministry responds by following up with the facility to make sure it complies with all provincial requirements,” says the email.

The ministry indicates that since 2006, 25 citizens are responsible for 60% of the complaints filed in this area with the Ministry. In this context, the department says it has conducted nearly 300 follow-up activities and continues to conduct proactive inspections of wind farm operations.

On the ground, energy companies do everything to reassure residents at public meetings such as those organized by Invenergy in Dutton-Dunwich.

“We understand that citizens have concerns or objections. But in the end, wind turbines are allowed in Ontario, period, “says James Murphy, vice president of business development of the company.

ARE THE STUDIES CONVINCING?

The energy companies are more confident in their efforts that several studies indicate that the noise and vibration of the turbines do not affect the health of residents and that their construction has no impact on the nearby artesian wells.

In 2014, a Health Canada study concludes that there is no evidence to establish a link between the noise exposure of wind turbines and the health problems reported by certain people living near these facilities.

“No statistically significant relationship was found between measured blood pressure, or resting heart rate, and noise exposure of wind turbines. ” – Health Canada study with 4000 hours of measurement of wind turbine noise data. 

But the agency also has several reservations. According to her, scientific data on the subject are limited. It also states that the findings of this study do not in themselves provide definitive answers and that they “should be considered in the context of a larger evidence base”.

The public also does not trust the mandatory environmental studies submitted by the energy companies for any new project.

“People who have money can buy the reports they need. ” – Jane Wilson, Wind Concerns Ontario 

Cameron McWilliam also questions the independence of this research.

“When you have the fox guarding the hen house, you expect that the studies will not be done by the opponent. It should be totally independent of the company and it did not happen. Because of wind farm liabilities, residents and our board are not ready to believe studies that say everything is fine, “he says.

But beyond research, living on a daily basis alongside wind turbines is difficult, say the inhabitants. Whether the vibrations felt by some or the discomfort caused by flashing air signal lights experienced by others, the effects of the presence of wind turbines are very real in the lives of these people.

It is in this context that the opposition is organized among citizens who see especially in this renewable energy the symbol of questioning their way of life in the countryside.

They are not ready to be imposed these huge machines. They do not want to be hijacked and most of all want to hear from a government that invests in green energy and from companies that claim to comply with government requirements.