Pontypool victory the second successful appeal for the environment

My Kawartha.com November 20, 2015

Tribunal agrees approved Pontypool wind project would destroy plant and animal life

Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble says Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision about Settlers Landing wind farm is only the second in Ontario in favour of a municipality over a wind energy company

MANVERS TWP – Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble was literally doing a happy dance at the Fenelon Falls Community Centre after learning opponents of an industrial wind turbine project near Pontypool scored a huge victory on Thursday (Nov. 19).

Coun. Stauble was at a special council meeting when she got the news that the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) had announced its decision on the appeal of the Settlers Landing Nominee Ltd. wind project.

Announcing the decision to council, she was visibly overjoyed as councillors hugged and congratulated her.

“This a huge, huge step forward for the community,” she told This Week.

She noted this is only the second ERT decision in Ontario that has overturned a wind energy company approval in favour of a community.

The Director, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change issued a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) to Settlers Landing Nominee Ltd., granting approval for the construction, installation, operation, use and retiring of a Class 4 wind facility with a total name plate capacity of 10 megawatts in Pontypool.

Settlers Landing wind park would have put five industrial wind turbines near the village.

SLWP Opposition Corp. appealed the REA to the Tribunal in May on the grounds that the project will cause serious harm to human health and serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.

The Tribunal held the hearing in Pontypool on in September and October.

The Tribunal found “that the planned Settlers Landing wind project in Pontypool will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.”  Specifically, the Tribunal, in its decision found that construction and decommissioning of turbines 3 and 5, and the access roads to turbines 2, 3 and 5, will cause such harm to a significant woodland identified as Woodland 11, including the habitat it represents.

Coun. Stauble said having two out of five of the turbines ruled as harmful to the woodlands could affect the company’s FIT contract (whereby they acquire points for renewable energy contracts with the Province.)

Opponents of the wind turbines did not, the Tribunal found, satisfy legal tests with respect to other issues they raised in the appeal, namely serious and irreversible harm to water resources or to grassland bird habitat and serious harm to human health.

Several other wind energy projects from different companies have been approved in Manvers Township, and opponents to the industrial turbines have not let up in their battle to keep them out, especially since several turbines are proposed to be built on the provincially-protected Oak Ridges Moraine. The City has backed their fight, as council has not supported industrial wind turbines in the municipality. While the opponents have raised money for their legal costs, the City has given some financial support and also provided senior staff to testify at the hearings.

In its decision, the Tribunal noted it will provide “a separate opportunity for the parties and participants to address the appropriate remedy and the Tribunal’s remedial jurisdiction in this case.”

Coun. Stauble said the wind company will be given the chance to offer remediation for the two turbines, “but, they must adhere to a 550 metre setback, and to do so means they would have to put those turbines in the woodlands.

“Which they are now not allowed to do.”

Doctors say enough evidence of wind farm harm to use Precautionary Principle

Telling the truth, the whole truth
Telling the truth, the whole truth

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project‏‎

November 18

by

Paula Peel, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC)

 
APPEC’s health case proceeded​ on Day 8 with two experts providing evidence to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) on the White Pines wind project: Dr. Alun Evans and Dr. Robert McMurtry.
 ​
Dr. Evans, Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has studied cardiovascular disease for 30 years.  Dr. Evans told the Tribunal that his involvement in wind turbines is tangential to his interest in noise, sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular disease.  But he has also met many people severely impacted by wind turbine noise.
  
Citing published studies, Dr. Evans explained that the major adverse health effects of wind turbines seem to be due to sleep disturbance and sleep deprivation, mainly from loud noise and low-frequency noise (LFN), particularly infrasound.  Dr. Evans finds the “impulsive, intrusive and incessant nature” of wind turbine noise a particularly troublesome feature that is highly discernible in rural areas.  LFN, which is inaudible, is propagated over long distances and penetrates buildings where it can be amplified by insulation and closed windows.  Dr. Evans noted that sleep deprivation is associated with increased likelihood of developing a range of chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.  His recent systematic literature review  found 18 published studies establishing an association between wind turbine noise and human distress.
  
While agreeing with James Wilson, counsel for WPD, that “human distress” is not a medical term Dr. Evans said that human distress needs to be taken seriously nonetheless.  He also agreed with Wilson that the results of observational studies do not constitute “proof”.   But what is important about these studies is the strength of the associations, which are certainly enough to point to the Precautionary Principle. 
 
Robert McMurtry, MD and Emeritus Professor of Surgery at University of Western Ontario, has studied adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines since 2008.  His public engagement includes   a 2009 Deputation to the Ontario legislature’s Standing Committee on the proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act; expert witness testimony at the 2011 ERT on the Kent Breeze project; 2011 publication of “Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind Turbines”; 2014 publication (with Carmen Krogh) in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine of “Diagnostic criteria for adverse health effects in the environs of wind turbines”; 2014 invited commentary by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on the Health Canada Study; 2015 literature review, “Do wind turbines cause adverse health effects?” presented to the Acoustical Society of America; and 2015 Response to “Invitation to Submit” from the Senate of Australia.
When asked by Wilson to confirm statements in the Health Canada Study Dr. McMurtry clarified that he does not accept the findings because of many problems with study design and participation.  Among these are the principal investigator’s ongoing work for the wind industry and evidence of communications between Health Canada and the industry, including disclosure of the study prior to public release.
In contrast, Dr. McMurtry cited Dr. Cooper’s Cape Bridgewater study showing there is an indirect pathway for adverse health effects.  Dr. Cooper visited people’s homes and found that emissions from wind turbines could be detected without hearing them.
 
Dr. McMurtry stressed the fact that no wind farm monitoring has even been done in Ontario.  “It would be possible, as cited since 2006,” he said, “to reduce or eliminate the boundless discourse of dueling experts by conducting appropriate third-party research.”  The MOECC regulations are based upon out-of-date standards that fail to evaluate LFN and infrasound.
Both of today’s health experts emphasized that White Pines would harm a significant number of people. Eric Gillespie noted the importance of APPEC’s witnesses. He told the Tribunal that this is the first time the link has been established at an ERT hearing between wind turbine noise and those who are afflicted. 

Environmental Review Tribunal finds Settlers Landing project will cause harm to environment

Justice for the environment? We'll see...
Justice for the environment? We’ll see…

Next step is to hear from all parties on remediation

In a decision released today, the Environmental Review Tribunal has ruled that the proponent for the Settlers Landing wind power project near Pontypool Ontario will cause harm to the natural environment.

The Tribunal finds that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment as set out in s. 145.2.1(2)(b) of the EPA. Specifically, the Tribunal finds that construction and decommissioning of turbines 3 and 5, and the access roads to turbines 2, 3 and 5, will cause such harm to a significant woodland identified as Woodland 11, including the habitat it represents.

The Tribunal also found that the Appellant did not have grounds for its appeal on harm to human health.

The next step, according to the Tribunal, is:

Consistent with the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Prince Edward County Field Naturalists v. Ostrander Point GP Inc., 2015 ONCA 269 (CanLII), the Tribunal is providing a separate opportunity for the parties and participants to address the appropriate remedy and the Tribunal’s remedial jurisdiction in this case under EPA s. 145.2.1(4), which provides:

145.2.1 (4) If the Tribunal determines that engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the renewable energy approval will cause harm referred to in clause (2) (a) or (b), the Tribunal may,

(a) revoke the decision of the Director;

(b) by order direct the Director to take such action as the Tribunal considers the Director should take in accordance with this Act and the regulations; or

(c) alter the decision of the Director, and, for that purpose, the Tribunal may substitute its opinion for that of the Director.

 

A telephone conference is scheduled to determine next steps and timing in this matter.

Graham Andrews of Eric K Gillespie Legal Corporation was acting for the appellant.

http://www.ert.gov.on.ca/english/decisions/index.htm

Noise complaints, health impacts dominate St Columban meeting

Complaints about St Columban noise mounting: Veresen's desktop predictions say, no problem
Complaints about St Columban noise mounting: Veresen’s desktop predictions say, no problem

Developer tells community to call them, not the government

Wind power developer Veresen held its third community liaison meeting for the St Columban project last evening. The meeting was “facilitated” by consulting firm Stantec.

Residents were able to ask questions of the company about the project, provided they were submitted by last Friday; the public was allowed to “observe.”

Noise complaints dominated the evening but the company’s response was that they are “in compliance” so no action will be taken. Residents from the nearby K2 project area attended the meeting and recounted problems with intrusive noise there.

Officials advised the community that noise complaints should be addressed to the company and not the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Spills Line.

THIS IS FALSE.

The MOECC confirmed for Wind Concerns Ontario this morning that calls from that project should go to the Guelph district office at 1-800-265-8658. (Callers should provide their location, the time of the call, weather conditions at the time of the call, and their identity and contact information.)

A community member asked about the $32 million in liens on leaseholder properties and was told that these are legal matters and will not be discussed.

 

 

 

Wind power developer tries to disqualify McMurtry evidence

Former University Dean of Medicine, member of the Order of Canada, and published researcher owns property in Prince Edward County, WPD counsel says, alleging conflict of interest

WPD sought to disqualify respected physician Dr Robert McMurtry. What are they worried about?
WPD sought to disqualify respected physician Dr Robert McMurtry. What are they worried about?
Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project

November 17, 2015

Day Seven of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) began expert witness testimony on the health effects of the White Pines wind project.

The first order of business, however, was the Tribunal’s decision on the two environmental reply witnesses proposed by appellant APPEC.  Chair Marcia Valiante ​ruled the witness statements partially admissible subject to objections over “bolstering” and “originality” of evidence.

Then the hearing turned to the first of the health experts called by APPEC.  Christopher Hanning, MD, qualified as “a physician with expertise in sleep medicine and physiology,” said wind turbines are “inherently noisy and cause sleep loss” because the characteristics of amplitude modulation and low-frequency sound make them much more annoying than aircraft, railways, and road traffic.  Citing anecdotal and epidemiological studies, he explained that 15 percent of the population is sensitive to noise and “people are caused serious harm with current minimum setbacks.”  He argued that the level of proof which dissenting experts require is inappropriate and that the Precautionary Principle should be used to protect public health.  If adverse effects occur up to 1.5 km, this is incontrovertible evidence that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) setback is inadequate.

After completing the examination in chief, Eric Gillespie, APPEC’s counsel, asked how the Tribunal would assess 118 sources in a 69-page witness statement since Dr. Hanning had been able to comment on only a few due to the Tribunal’s tight timelines.

​Chair Valiante replied that the Tribunal had established rules based on standard practice and Gillespie would have to appeal these in a judicial review.

In cross-examination Sylvia Davis, MOECC counsel, questioned the relevance and credibility of Dr. Hanning’s sources, in which statements by wind project residents are taken at “face value.”  Dr. Hanning clarified that in the practice of medicine people’s statements are generally accepted but followed by medical histories and clinical tests.  He asserted that the studies cumulatively show the existence of a health problem as well as the need for research.

​James Wilson, WPD counsel, questioned Dr. Hanning’s qualification to testify as he is not an acoustician.  Dr. Hanning told the ERT that having spent his entire professional life studying sleep it is apparent to him that any noise causing an adverse health effect constitutes serious harm to human health.  He said he relies on the World Health Organization definition of annoyance.  If people are annoyed to the extent they are forced to leave their homes or are too tired to drive, the annoyance is serious harm.

The second health expert called by APPEC was Dr. Robert McMurtry, whom Gillespie sought to qualify as a physician and surgeon with expertise in the delivery of health care, heath care policies and health policies.  Gillespie noted that Dr. McMurtry had been so qualified at previous ERTs, and he pointed to a long and distinguished career in medicine, invited testimony this year before the Australian Senate, and peer-reviewed publication in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine on health effects in the environs of wind turbines.

But Wilson objected to the qualification of Dr. McMurtry.  He submitted that as a homeowner in the White Pines project area Dr. McMurtry was not an independent witness, had a personal financial interest, and should not be permitted to give opinion evidence. Gillespie responded that at this time Dr. McMurtry has no financial interest in anything.  He noted further that Dr. McMurtry’s opinion has been relevant at other hearings and is important for the Tribunal to hear.

The Tribunal agreed to qualify Dr. McMurtry as an Expert Witness and decided that due to the lengthy process of qualification his testimony would be given the next day.

The ERT resumes Wednesday, November 18, 10 a.m. at the Essroc Centre, Wellington.

-Henri Garand and Paula Peel, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County

Horizon not giving up on $50-million wind power project despite environmental concerns

"Which way to Highway 61? I'm looking for something to eat..."
“Which way to Highway 61? I’m looking for something to eat…”

Power developer failed to meet First Nations concerns; claims wildlife will “benefit” from roadways

The Chronicle-Journal, November 17, 2015

Horizon Wind is to appeal a provincial decision to deny its application to build a wind farm on the Nor’Westers escarpment. The Ministry of the Environment said Monday the company announced its intention to appeal on November 12, just a few days before the deadline. The appeal is to be heard by the Environmental Review Tribunal. A date for the hearing has yet to be set, an MOE spokesperson said Monday.

In it decision released by letter last month to Horizon Wind Inc., the ministry found that the company’s proposal for 16 turbines did not provide “certain specific information in response to the ministry’s detailed inquiries on the potential impacts on moose and moose habitat.”

The ministry said it needed that information to address concerns “that the potential impacts on moose, moose habitat, and the traditional moose-hunting practices of members of Fort William First Nation had been adequately addressed and mitigated.”

“It’s what we’ve been saying all along, “Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins said in an earlier interview. Collins said that, among other things, the First Nation hunters felt that a proposed requirement to stay about three kilometres away from the turbines was too restrictive.

Horizon Wind could not be reached for comment Monday. The company has been trying to develop the $50-million, 32-megawatt Big Thunder Wind Park for several years.

Horizon has argued that moose wouldn’t have been negatively affected by the turbines because the animals would benefit by having additional pathways to browse for food.

 

Environmental groups “shockingly silent” on wind farm bird slaughter: Senator

Senator Bob Runciman. (FILE PHOTO)

The Kingston Whig-Standard, November 16, 2015

A Conservative senator is calling out large environmental groups for their silence on the impact of wind turbines on bird populations.

Ontario Senator Bob Runciman, who in 2011 introduced a motion that was unanimously passed by the Senate calling for a moratorium on wind turbine developments in Important Bird Areas, said large environmental groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the David Suzuki Foundation have not addressed one of the biggest criticisms of wind energy.

“Thousands of birds are being needlessly slaughtered simply because these industrial wind farms are located in the wrong places,” Runciman wrote in a letter Monday. “Yet the very organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife have been shockingly silent. I’d like to know why.”

In an interview with the Whig, Runciman said the impacts on bird and bat populations has been ignored by groups such as the World Wildlife Fund Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation.

“Organizations that have essentially been silent on this. I think that has had a positive political impact for the government,” Runciman said. “There’s simply not the recognition levels raised and no real effort to make people aware of it or express concern themselves as an organization.”

Runciman said those groups do not want to be appear to be opposed to green energy and do not want to get on the wrong side of the Liberal government. Runciman also said larger environmental groups are based in large urban centres, such as Toronto, while wind energy projects are being proposed or built mainly in rural areas.

“I’m not talking about green energy itself, I’m talking about putting these turbines in these areas where they are going to kill thousands and thousands of birds and bats and jeopardize a significant amount of endangered species,” Runciman said.

Gideon Forman, a climate change policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation, agreed that wind turbines shouldn’t be placed in sensitive bird and bat areas. But Forman said the impact on bird and bat populations should not be used to derail efforts to introduce more renewable energy in Ontario.

“Windmills do kill some birds but you need to put that in context,” Forman said. “The greatest threat to birds, and indeed other wildlife, will be climate change so we absolutely need to ramp up properly sited renewables. We need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy source, among them wind.

“We do need to put them in the right places. An important bird area is not the right place.”

Forman said research has indicated the number of birds killed by windmills is “tiny” compared to the number killed by flying into buildings and high tension power lines, pesticide use, vehicles and house cats.

“You need to put it in that context.”

Forman said the Suzuki Foundation is a charity and is non-partisan and has members in all areas of the country.

The provincial government is currently evaluating proposals from more than 40 companies bidding for large renewable energy contracts. Of the 565 megawatts of renewable energy the contracts are expected to produce, 300 megawatts is to come from wind energy.

Wind energy projects have been proposed, approved or built for areas stretching from Prince Edward County, Greater Napanee, Amherst Island, off shore near Main Duck Island and on Wolfe Island.

by Eliot Ferguson

Tribunal to decide on bird expert witnesses at White Pines appeal

Will bird experts be able to testify at White Pines appeal? Ruling expected today
Will bird experts be able to testify at White Pines appeal? Ruling expected today

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project

November 16, 2015
by
Henri Garand, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward Count
On Day Six, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project considered a procedural motion to exclude two environmental witnesses, heard testimony from four health case witnesses, and then ruled on the proposed schedule of expert witnesses.
Eric Gillespie, counsel for appellant APPEC, proposes to call Dr. Michael Hutchinson, a director of the American Bird Conservancy, and William Evans, a nocturnal bird migration monitoring expert, in reply to two witness statements provided by wind developer/approval holder WPD.  James Wilson, WPD counsel, claimed these witnesses would either repeat evidence given by another APPEC witness or introduce new facts outside “proper reply.”  Gillespie argued that APPEC, bearing the onus of proof, has the right to reply to WPD’s experts, and the expertise of the reply witnesses does not duplicate that of primary witness Dr. Shawn Smallwood, an ecologist.
The Tribunal reserved its decision until the next day.
The afternoon was taken up by four witnesses who reside near the proposed wind project.  Each witness described pre-existing medical conditions and provided corroborative OHIP and physicians’ records.
Nora Bowlby, whose house would be 800 m from the nearest turbine, is concerned that annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, fatigue, headaches, and vertigo, all symptoms attributable to wind turbines, will worsen her psychological and neurological disorders.  She also worries that project construction and road traffic will damage the stone foundation of her 125-year-old wood-frame house.  She said that due to her medical conditions the house is a refuge, which she fears will be lost.
Ann McLurg, a South Bay resident, fears that low-frequency sound, shadow flicker, and vibration will exacerbate her post-traumatic stress. She said she has spent all her retirement savings in renovating a 160-year-old house where she feels calm and safe, and the wind project now threatens her health.
Deborah Cermack, a Royal Road resident who would live 650 m from the nearest turbine, believes that noise and infrasound would aggravate the migraines from which she has suffered since childhood.  The migraines would become intolerable in both number and severity.  Cermack said she moved to the County for peace and quiet and control of her migraines, and to “have all that taken away would be devastating.”
Andrei Sulzenko, whose County Rd. 13 house would be 600 m from turbine T 29, has suffered for nine years from periodic insomnia that triggered adverse health effects.  He submitted a letter from his sleep doctor stating that low-frequency sound from nearby turbines could cause sleep disturbance and insomnia.  He said the only remedy would be to leave his house.
All the witnesses reported that they had contacted WPD and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change but received no response to their concerns.
The day concluded with the Tribunal decision on the schedule for the balance of the hearing dates.  All parties had previously made written submissions, with the key difference being that APPEC had scheduled one expert witness per day and WPD wanted two.  The Tribunal ruled in favour of two witnesses per day.  The chair explained that it was the common ERT practice and the evidence is “nothing different from other proceedings.”
The ERT resumes Tuesday, November 17, 10 a.m. at Essroc Centre, Wellington.

Subsidies for renewables “least effective” for the environment: economist

The Montreal Economics Institute, a non-partisan non-profit organization engaged in education and research, has published a document in advance of the Paris climate change talks, entitled A Practical Guide to the Economics of Climate Change.

In it, the authors discuss various measures that might be considered. Of particular note is Chapter 2 Governmental measures and their effectiveness and the discussion of Feed In Tariff subsidies for “renewable” sources of power. Here is an excerpt:

These subsidies are among the most expensive, and
therefore the least efficient, ways of reducing GHG
emissions. In particular, they have significant economic
and social consequences. By raising the costs of electricity
for the consumers who finance them, these
subsidies generate energy poverty among the most vulnerable
households. They also hurt the competitiveness
of companies that see their rates go up. The European
experience is telling. Several countries have had to
shrink the subsidies they give out to producers of renewable
energy.

In an interview on November 13 with journalist Rob Snow at radio CFRA, co-author Youri Chassin named Ontario as an example of how FIT subsidies don’t work, and actually cause hardship for citizens. If you do a cost-benefit analysis, Chassin said, you will see, they are the least efficient way to go. (Listen to the interview here, in the first half hour.)

This is in line with what Wind Concerns Ontario has been saying: Ontario NEVER did a cost-benefit analysis for its renewables program, particularly wind (it sure won’t do one now) and, whatever your goals are for the environment, wind power is not the way to achieve them.

Proposed wind farm area should be a nature conservancy, says ERT witness

Prince Edward County's South Shore meets Environment Canada's criteria for protection. Ontario says, build the power plants! [Photo courtesy Point2Point Foundation]
Prince Edward County’s South Shore meets Environment Canada’s criteria for protection. Ontario says, build the power plants! [Photo courtesy Point2Point Foundation]
For almost 30 years, citizens of Prince Edward County have been trying to get all three levels of government to come together and create a protected area for wildlife, in this Important Bird Area which is a major stopover point for migratory birds in North America.

It never happened.

And now, Ontario has given approval for not one, but two, wind “farms” in the area, which is generally agreed will be a disaster for the environment.

Here is a report of testimony at the appeal of the White Pines project by WPD Canada, a Germany-based wind power developer. Emphasis is ours. The hypocrisy is theirs.

Report on the Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project
November 12, 2015
by Henri Garand and Paula Peel, APPEC

The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project devoted Day Five to hearing six members of the public previously awarded status as Presenters rather than expert witnesses.

Christopher Currie also sought to be qualified as an expert witness because he would be commenting, as a professional land use planner, on WPD’s application reports. But the Tribunal denied the request because Currie’s focus was on water bodies and he has no credentials in hydrology or related subjects.

As a Presenter, nonetheless, Currie gave a detailed review of the deficiencies in WPD’s assessment of water bodies on the project site. He pointed out that two fisheries biologists, not hydrologists, had carried out all the field work from June to mid-October, never during the wet season of November through April, and had used assessment standards inappropriate for alvar. Due to these and other numerous flaws in methodology, the final report was incomplete and unreliable. Excavation, drilling, and hydrofracking for wind turbine bases would cause serious environmental harm to animals and plants by permanently altering the South Shore watershed.

Area meets Environment Canada criteria for protection

Cheryl Anderson, president of Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO), described how White Pines would jeopardize the millions of birds which migrate each year through the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (PECSSIBA). Soaring birds like eagles, hawks and vultures are especially vulnerable, and a dozen species at risk breed in the project area. Moreover, PECSSIBA, which is globally significant for waterfowl and nationally significant for endangered bird species, meets all Environment Canada criteria for a location unsuitable for wind development. In light of high mortality at the nearby Wolfe Island wind project, Anderson called on the ERT to apply the Precautionary Principle.

Richard Bird of the Hastings and Prince Edward Land Trust (HPELT) told the Tribunal about the 490-acre Miller Family Nature Reserve on Hill Top Road in South Marysburgh. A 2013 Baseline Documentation Report completed for Ontario Heritage Trust identifies natural heritage features including plants, animals, wetlands, alvar and migratory stopover habitat, as well as the endangered Blanding’s turtle. Wind turbines T21 and T22 are on the lot directly adjacent to the Reserve. A proposed transmission corridor on Hill Top Road will require blasting and/or digging and leveling of trees and vegetation. Mr. Bird said that HPELT considers the Miller Family Nature Reserve a model for what should take place on the PEC South Shore. The ERT requested a copy of the Report.

Roxanne MacKenzie focused on the adverse effects of wind turbines on human health. She noted that sound travels in rural areas and the White Pines wind project is close to many homes. People living near wind turbines have suffered sleep disturbance, vertigo, and tinnitus. Shadow flicker is a serious concern, especially with children. MacKenzie also mentioned the negative impact of White Pines on the local tourism industry, property values, and even increased electricity rates due to high transmission costs and subsidized export sale of electricity.

Doug Murphy described his 200-acre century farm and its roots going back six generations to United Empire Loyalists. He told the Tribunal that Stantec data is inaccurate: T4 is 97m from his property line, and shadow flicker will be an ongoing issue between April and September. Murphy also noted the project location within Black Creek Valley Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) and the prevalence of crevices up to one foot wide and 10 feet deep that in some cases go for miles. The crevices make the area potentially unstable and unsuitable for turbines. Any blasting and/or drilling will cause problems on other properties including effects on water supply. Murphy provided the ERT with a 2012 document from WPD indicating that it plans to put 80 more turbines on 4000 acres.

Potential for adverse health effects

Brian Flack, who lives west of Lighthall Road where nine of WPD’s wind turbines are proposed, said that since the Renewable Energy Approval was granted there is increased stress in the community over property devaluation and potential adverse health impacts, including physical, physiological, and psychological harm. He noted that the Council of Canadian Academies found sufficient evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and the medical condition of annoyance. Mr. Flack asked the ERT to consider why the province did not expropriate land instead of denying responsibility for impacts on residents.

Since the Tribunal weights evidence on the basis of source and credibility, there’s no way of knowing what effect any of the non-expert Presenters will have on the ERT decision. The hearing continues next week on November 16, 10 a.m., in the Wellington and District Community Centre.

Map of Prince Edward County and South Shore where two wind power projects are approved.
Map of Prince Edward County and South Shore where two wind power projects are approved.