Health Canada data shows Ontario wind farm regulations not adequate

Ontario wind turbine setback regulations: not supported by science
Ontario wind turbine setback regulations: not supported by science

Detailed data in Health Canada study contradicts Ontario government claim 550-metre  wind turbine setback is safe

The results of a Health Canada study released November 6 show that Ontario is not protecting the health of residents living near wind turbines, and that longer setbacks between the wind turbines and homes are required.

Health Canada’s summary of its Wind Turbine Noise and Health study results included the fact that responses to the study’s questionnaire show participants reporting experiencing distress or annoyance when wind turbine noise was at 35 decibels/dBA.   Current Ontario regulations are based on the World Health Organization Night Noise limit of 40 dBA but that limit was designed solely for traffic and airport noise.

The results of the Health Canada study confirm that wind turbine noise was different than road and airport noise, with issues beginning at 35 dBA.   The study also reported that the number of people experiencing disturbance or high annoyance from wind turbine noise was statistically related to several , self-reported health effects such as changes in blood pressure, migraines, tinnitus, dizziness, and perceived stress.

Health Canada had wind turbine noise levels estimated for 1,232 participants in the study, based on their distance from the nearest wind turbine.  These data have been released as part of a Freedom of Information request and provide an independent basis to evaluate the setbacks from wind turbines required to protect nearby residents from noises above the 35 dBA level identified in the Health Canada study.

Other jurisdictions including New Zealand and the State of South Australia already use the 35 dBA standard for wind turbine noise, particularly in rural areas.

To protect residents from wind turbine noise over 35 dBA, the noise modelling developed for Health Canada indicates that the setback between turbines and homes should be a minimum of 1,300 metres, not the current 550 metres used in Ontario. The Health Canada report specifically contradicts the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health report, released in 2010; 40 dBA is not, therefore, an appropriate noise threshold for wind turbines.

Clearly, more research is needed to establish more appropriate guidelines and regulation.

Validation of what Ontario citizens have been saying to judicial tribunals

“These results validate what the people of rural and small town Ontario have been telling the government, the courts, and the Environmental Review Tribunal for years,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “The Ontario regulations are not based on science, and are not adequate to protect health.”

As Health Canada is the source of these findings, it is expected that these results can be used to show that the current Ontario standard is not sufficient to protect human health. This will be a critical factor in citizen appeals of wind power project approvals, before the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT).  The Health Canada study is an independent study that validates residents concerns about Ontario’s setback requirements.

The results from Health Canada related to setbacks are likely conservative in nature, Wind Concerns Ontario says: the questions on study participants’ experiences with wind turbine noise were related to experience in the 30 days previous to answering the questionnaire, but, as the survey was delivered in summer, this tactic avoided the problem of the seasonal nature of wind turbine noise. Wind turbine noise tends to be stronger in the fall and spring months, when the weather is windier in Ontario.

Wind Concerns Ontario today called on the federal Health Minister to act on the findings of her department, and issue appropriate interim national guidelines for wind turbines to reflect concerns raised by the study.

Industry had a role in developing regulations

Included in the Wind Concerns Ontario report on how wind turbines are sited, is reference to a letter written to the Ontario government in 2009 by the president of the wind power lobby organization, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which suggests that industry played a key role in determining Ontario’s setback regulations. Stricter guidelines would have prevented the majority of wind power generation projects proposed at that time, the letter states.

Read the Wind Concerns Ontario analysis and report here:EvaluatingOntarioRegulationsforSitingTurbinesFINAL

Contact us at windconcerns@gmail.com

Ontario: insult to injury over the environment

The Ontario government published a news release today in which it claimed it is helping communities “restore” the environment, and also that complaints to its “Spills Line” are being responded to and resolved.

This is a cruel joke for those Ontario communities watching the destruction of the landscape, the altering of waterways and killing of wildlife for the sake of highly invasive wind power generation facilities. Ontario residents are told that if they have a concern about excessive noise they are to call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Line. Those who do, are less than satisfied with the response. The reports from the community on the noise from turbines is NOT included in the Ministry’s annual report on calls made to the Spills Line. There is no transparency or accountability—this has been made clear in various Environmental Review Tribunals, where Environment staff have actually testified that if the computer modelling supplied by the power developer says it “isn’t possible” for a turbine to make noise above a certain level, then they don’t even check the complaint.

Worse, the legislation has been written in such a way that noise complaints will never result in government action.

Here is the news release:

Helping Communities Restore and Protect the Environment

Ontario Supporting Community-based Environmental Projects

Ontario is using penalties collected from environmental violations to fund 12 community projects to restore and protect the environment.

Projects include restoring river banks by planting native trees and plants, protecting ecosystems from invasive species and undertaking environmental health assessments.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund supports environmental improvement projects in the watershed where a violation happened. Environmental penalties are issued to industries that have spilled a contaminant into the environment or that did not comply with regulatory requirements.

Protecting our watersheds is good for the environment and good for the economy and is a key part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Ontario Community Environment Fund grants. Applications for funding will be accepted until November 5, 2014.
  • In 2013, $113,781.20 was collected and added to the Ontario Community Environment Fund.
  • Eligible groups can apply for more than $161,208 available across 15 communities where penalties were collected.

Quotes

Glen R. Murray

“The Ontario Community Environment Fund invests in communities. It builds capacity for our schools, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities to take action to improve the environment in areas where a spill or violation has happened.”

Glen R. Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Contact the Ministry here.

Reports may be filed with the Ill Wind Reporting website here.

Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)
Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)

ERT wind farm testimony: Environment officials not doing their job

WAINFLEET WIND ENERGY INC.

 

 

Here is a report from Loretta Shields on testimony given at the appeal of the HAF wind power project by Vineland Power (IPC Energy); the hearings began on Monday this week.

For those of you that were not able to make it, Ministry officials from Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and also the Ministry of Natural Resources  were questioned and cross examined during the last two days.  A representative with the Environmental Assessment firm was also cross examined today.  Here is the damning testimony that we learned:

1.  The Ministry of Environment does not verify set back distances of the wind turbines.  They trust the wind proponent (but the turbines did not meet the required set back distances!)

2.  The Ministry of Natural Resources does not verify either the presence or absence of natural features.  For example, the size of woodlands were inaccurate in the Natural Heritage assessment report and no one at the MNR verified this.  They are not careful to review the relevant documents and corresponding versions of those documents.

3.  The Tribunal Chair identified training gaps with the environmental assessor that authored the Natural Heritage Assessment report.

So we have a problem with training, verification, process control with both Ministries and the environmental assessment firm.

Please email the ministries and show your concern.  If you have property within 120 meters of either a proposed industrial wind turbine, collector line or transmission line, please let them know that we learned that there are verification issues, training issues and process control issues.  Demand that they review the NRWC project in relation to your property to determine whether significant natural features exist and require mitigation measures.  If you live within the HAF project location, demand that they review the project in its entirety.  The HAF Renewable Energy Approval documents now lack the required integrity to provide the people in our Community with assurances that other components of the project were investigated in accordance with the REA Regulation. If you don’t live within 120 meters, please write to voice your concerns. Because once this is approved, it is a tougher battle, and time is running out!

This is so NOT right.  This is NOT how civil servants serve the people in our Community.  This is NOT how a Ministry protects our natural features.

Please help with this fight. If you could write/email in the next day or two, it would be so much appreciated.

1.  Eric Boysen, Renewable Energy Director, Ministry of Natural Resources eric.boysen@ontario.ca

2.  Agatha Garcia-Wright, Director, Renewable Energy Approvals, agatha.garcia-wright@ontario.ca

3.  Copy:  Andre Marin, Ombudsman for Ontario info@ombudsman.on.ca

4.  Copy:  Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner for Ontario  commissioner@eco.on.ca

Wind farm appeals a “stacked deck”

Judges quash majority of turbine appeal

Setback issue to be argued Sept. 3
The Environmental Review Tribunal has ruled that only issues related to an amendment to the HAF Wind Energy Project will be heard next month. The majority of the issues raised in West Lincoln resident Anne Fairfeild’s appeal will not be argued.
Grimsby Lincoln News

WEST LINCOLN — The case against the five industrial wind turbines already spinning in West Lincoln is “still partially alive.”

Anne Fairfield, who appealed the province’s approval of the HAF Wind Energy Project, appeared before the Environmental Review Tribunal for a preliminary hearing last week. All of the issues raised in her original appeal were quashed, meaning only those mentioned in her appeal to the province’s subsequent approval of an amendment to the project will be heard at a hearing next month.

“They knocked out everything not mentioned in the amendment,” said Fairfield. “All we’re left with are property lines and the withdrawing of post construction raptor monitoring.”

Project proponents Rankin Wind Energy and Vineland Power Inc. had to submit an amendment to their application after it came to light that four of the five turbines were built closer to property lines than regulations allow.

According to the Green Energy Act, turbines must be located a minimum of a blade length from the nearest property — in this case, 95 metres.

The province approved the amended application June 20. Fairfield filed her appeal July 3.

Come Sept. 3 Fairfield will only be able to argue on the issue of property line setback infractions and post-construction raptor monitoring. The West Lincoln resident will no longer be able to present on issues of health, gas wells. hazardous waste and the impact on Charter rights — the issues Fairfield raised in her original appeal to the project’s approval.

Fairfield and members of the West Lincoln Glanbrook WInd Action Group met with Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak Monday to discuss the upcoming tribunal.

Judges quashes majority of turbine appeal

West Lincoln-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak meets with constituents in resident’s home

Hudak was vocal in his opposition to the Green Energy Act in his time as PC Party Leader. He raised the issue several times at Queen’s Park on behalf of his constituents in West Lincoln and the province at large, calling for a complete moratorium on more than one occasion. He has called on the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, twice now to “do the right thing” in the case of the HAF project.

“If you had been caught speeding on Twenty Road, you wouldn’t get a redo,” said Hudak, speaking on the province’s approval of the amended application.

“It only makes sense for the government to follow its own laws.”

Hudak, fresh on the heels of his loss to Kathleen Wynne in the race to become premier, said he would do what he can to help his constituents but realizes his influence is not as strong as it could have been had the outcome had been different in June.

“My goal was to win the election and stop this thing in its tracks,” said Hudak. “I’ve met with Wynne and McGuinty, face to face like we are now, to say this is a bad idea for the province as a whole.”

Fairfield asked if the PC party would continue to push against the Liberal’s green agenda without Hudak at helm. Hudak said he appointed Lisa Thompson to the post of energy critic because her own riding of Huron-Bruce was home to several turbine projects. He was confident the party would continue to push against “one of the most destructive policy decisions in recent history.”

Hudak, like the half dozen residents gathered at Veldman’s house, did not have the same level of confidence the Environmental Review Tribunal would side with Fairfield.

“It’s an incredibly stacked deck,” said Hudak.

“ERTs don’t work,” said Fairfield, noting ultimately the decision will lie in either appeals court or in a judicial review, both of which she is prepared to more forward with.

Read the full story here.

Editor’s Note: the Environmental Review Tribunal Panel is NOT made up of “judges” but rather lawyers who are civil servants, employed by the Province of Ontario.

Desecration of Ontario’s North by wind ‘farms’: needless

Radar

Lake Superior. Montreal River Weather Radar Station, upper right corner. Foreground, ridge where wind turbines will be places for Bow Lake Wind Farm.

Once again, we do not usually re-post from blogs but this is an excellent summary of the recent appeals of the Goulais Bay and Bow Lake power projects, together with excellent photography by Gary McGuffin.

An excerpt:

In Ontario there have been 20 appeals in opposition to industrial wind turbine farms brought before the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and 19 have been dismissed. An appeal by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists to kill the development of an industrial wind turbine farm on Ostrander Point was won before an ERT in July 2013. However, the decision has since been reversed by the Ontario Divisional Court and appellants are seeking an appeal before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

George [Brown, of LSARC] commented, “The 240 Bow Lake appeal came close to winning. Based on the Ostrander Judicial Review decision the Tribunal found that in order to prove irreversible harm it was necessary for the appellant to know the size of the populations being harmed. Having found that the 240 appeal failed to prove irreversible harm the Tribunal declined to make a finding on the issue of serious harm, though it agreed with virtually all the arguments on bats submitted by the 240 appeal.

As a result the Tribunal imposed immediate and more stringent mitigation measures on the project – a tacit admission that species-at-risk bats would otherwise be killed, which would be a serious harm.

The Tribunal’s decision is peculiar in that it allows these more stringent mitigation measures to be rescinded should they prove effective. Had the MNR required, or done, a baseline study, or had the 240 appeal had the time and money to do one, to determine the size of existing bat species populations in the project area, we would perhaps have had the final piece of the puzzle required to win.” …

Read the full post here.

Central Bruce residents file complaint: impending disaster at K2 wind farm

"Lake K2"
“Lake K2”

Yesterday, residents of Central Bruce and the Central Bruce Wind Action community group, filed a letter with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, regarding serious environmental issues associated with the K2 wind power project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh.

The letter, which was accompanied by almost 300 signatures from local residents, details the fact that issues concerning the danger to the water table and municipal water supply were raised repeatedly during the comment and approval process for the 270-megawatt power facility. K2 is being developed by a consortium of Capital Power, Samsung, and Pattern Energy.

The letter states: “In 2011 a K2 employee, Mr. David Harrelson, advised of close to surface aquifers at the substation site. Their presence is verified by Well Record A029342 from June 20, 2006. The well records from the site specifically make mention of the ground water table at one foot (12 inches) below surface. The MoE in Owen Sound had documentation in mid-2011 regarding the water issues at this site. The Approvals Branch of the MoE was notified and provided with this information as well.”

Almost immediately upon commencing construction for K2, the land became flooded, with water spilling into municipal drains and ditches; the water was so significant that locals branded it “Lake K2” and the developers had to post a warning sign, complete with a lifesaver attached. The developer is now trucking water from the site.

Clearly, the Central Bruce letter writers state, the documents filed with the application for K2 were incomplete, and important issues not considered by the Ministry of the Environment.

The letter concludes with the demand that K2’s approval be revoked, given its basis on incomplete and inaccurate documentation: “It is not for the residents of Ontario to bear any repercussions from an incomplete REA Application. K2’s application was incomplete. Given the current situation, we question the terms under which the REA was granted. The approval was premised on inadequate and unsupported information. We are therefore requesting that the Renewable Energy Approval for the K2 Wind Ontario Inc. project in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh be revisited and revoked.”

You may view the letter here: Letter to Agatha Garcia-Wright – July 19, 2014-1

Public in the dark on Kawartha Lakes appeal

Industry and the Ministry of the Environment not telling appellants or Tribunal what they’re up to.

Wind farm appeal on hold until August

Kawartha Lakes councillor Heather Stauble says appellants aren’t sure when hearing will move forward

Kawartha Lakes This Week, June 5, 2014

(KAWARTHA LAKES) Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble says it is disturbing that the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing the appeal of a wind energy project in Manvers Township is not getting information from the developer and the Province.

Last December, the Province granted wpd Canada approval for its Sumac Ridge wind energy project, which would see the installation of five large turbines near Bethany.

READ MORE: Councillor Explains Rationale Behind Wind Turbine Fight

Manvers Wind Concerns, Cransley Home Farm Limited and the Cham Shan Temple are appealing. The Cham Shan Temple is an initiative of the Buddhist Association of Canada that will mirror the four great Temples in China. One is almost completed and three more are planned for the City of Kawartha Lakes, a total investment of about $100 million.

On Wednesday (June 4), Coun. Stauble noted the hearing was originally scheduled for three months, ending in June. But, after several date changes, she says it has been postponed until Aug. 13. “We don’t know when this will move forward.”

Coun. Stauble said there has been ongoing correspondence between wpd Canada and the Ministry of Environment, but the appellants and the ERT panel have not been privy to that information.

Asked why not, Coun. Stauble said, “That’s a great question. Something has changed and we don’t know what it is.”

Read the full story here.

Wrong, wrong, wrong: Ostrander Point decision

 

The Times

Wrong to assume

Rick Conroy
Blanding-Small

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists are wrong. Ontario Nature. Nature Canada. Both wrong. Dr. Robert McMurtry is wrong. The South Shore Conservancy is wrong. So too is the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Alvar, bird, butterfly, turtle and bat experts are all wrong. The municipality of Prince Edward is wrong. As are the majority of County residents who believed Crown Land at Ostrander Point should be preserved—rather than industrialized for the profit of one corporation.
And now we have learned that Ontario’s own Environmental Review Tribunal is wrong. A Toronto court has said so. This ought to keep Premier Kathleen Wynne up at night.
The Tribunal’s Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs spent more than 40 days hearing evidence, challenging testimony and witnesses and weighing competing claims. They began their task in a snowstorm in February; and delivered their decision on a hot July day last summer. Wright and Gibbs visited Ostrander Point. They walked around. They saw, with their own eyes, what was at stake.
They dug deep into the evidence. They weren’t satisfied that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had sufficiently scrutinized the developer’s plans before issuing it a permit to “harm, harass and kill” endangered species, including the Blanding’s turtle.
They discovered that mitigation measures proposed by the developer to ensure overall benefit to the species were untested and worse, according to evidence presented before them—unlikely to work, particularly for the population at Ostrander Point.
However, the Toronto court ruled that Wright and Gibbs should have given the MNR the benefit of doubt.
In my view, the Tribunal ought to have assumed that the MNR would properly and adequately monitor compliance with the ESA (Endangered Species Act) permit,” wrote Justice Ian Nordheimer in the decision.
But Wright and Gibbs, after listening to 40 days of testimony and examining nearly 200 documents entered into evidence, concluded they could not make that assumption.
The Tribunal’s error was that it didn’t believe the MNR would adequately look out for the Blanding’s turtle.
Wright and Gibbs had gone backward and forward through the proposals prepared and submitted by the developer and accepted by the MNR. They concluded the “Blanding’s turtle at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block will not be effectively mitigated by the conditions of the REA [Renewable Energy Approval].”
The court didn’t say Wright and Gibbs were wrong about their conclusions, but that they should have “accepted the ESA permit at face value” or explained better why their conclusions were different than the MNR.
The Tribunal was obliged to explain how the fact that the MNR had concluded under the ESA that the project would lead to an overall benefit to Blanding’s turtle (notwithstanding the harm that would arise from the project) could mesh with its conclusion that the project would cause irreversible harm to the same species,” wrote Justice Nordheimer.
This is the bit that ought to send a cold shiver through Premier Wynne and anyone else who is worries about the welfare of endangered species in this province.
 …
Read the full article here.

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have decided they will persevere, and appeal this decision. They need HELP!  www.saveostranderpoint.org to donate or learn more

Dufferin County still fighting wind power project: “we have a gun to our head”

UPDATED: Dufferin County, Dufferin Wind return to negotiating table

Wind wars

Dufferin County will return to the negotiating table with Dufferin Wind Power Inc. in hopes of avoiding expropriation. On Thursday (Jan. 23), county council directed staff to continue negotiations to finalize an agreement to grant an easement along the county-owned rail corridor. The agreement will be presented to county council at their Feb. 13 meeting.

Orangeville Banner

Dufferin County will return to the negotiating table with Dufferin Wind Power Inc. in hopes of avoiding expropriation.
On Thursday (Jan. 23), county council directed staff to continue negotiations to finalize an agreement to grant an easement along the county-owned rail corridor. The agreement will be presented to county council at their Feb. 13 meeting.
“It is different from what we’ve been doing,” said county Warden Bill Hill. “But when every avenue we’ve explored – and everyone else has explored – has been ignored and shut down by the province, the only option left for the county was to be faced with expropriation.”
According to the motion, Dufferin County has an opportunity to receive additional compensation and improved terms from Dufferin Wind over what would be granted through expropriation.
The warden explained the county was presented with a new offer from Dufferin Wind.
“There was a meeting with Dufferin Wind,” Hill said, adding details are not publicly available yet. “When the (Feb. 13) agenda is put out, you’ll see what has been negotiated, vs. what will be rammed down our throat by the energy board.”
Dufferin Wind spokesperson Connie Roberts said the company is pleased the county is returning to the negotiating table.
“Until an agreement is reached however, DWPI must continue to pursue expropriation to ensure the project is not delayed,” Roberts said in an email to The Banner. “This being said, everyone with Dufferin Wind is feeling optimistic that a positive outcome will allow DWPI to cease expropriation proceedings after the February 13th Dufferin County Council meeting.”
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has approved a leave to construct application from Dufferin Wind to build a 230 kV transmission line from Melancthon to the Orangeville transmission station in Amaranth.
The line will be above ground with the exception of sections in Shelburne and near the south end of the line.
Dufferin Wind has filed an application to expropriate the lands needed for the line. Approval of that application is immanent, according to the recent county motion.
“It’s not a matter of if this is going to go ahead or not. It’s a matter of what are the terms of it going ahead,” Hill said. “We have a gun to our head that says this deal is going ahead.”

Read the full story here.

Health effects the focus of Armow ERT

Here from Bayshore Broadcasting, a report on the first official day of the Armow Environmental Review Tribunal hearing. The audio clip is of engineer William Palmer.

Health Effects at Wind Turbine Tribunal

Friday, December 20, 2013 7:00 AM by John Divinski
Hearings into an appeal against a wind project, centred on medical testimony

There is audio for this story.

MP3 - click to open

click to open MP3 version
or click the play button to listen now.

(Kincardine ) – Much of the first day of hearings by the Environmental Review Tribunal into an appeal against the Armow Wind Project in the Kincardine region centred on qualifications of a presenter and whether or not anecdotal medical testimony would be allowed without formal medical diagnosis.
Retired engineer Bill Palmer was the subject of questioning by counsel for the Director, Ministry of the Environment, Danielle Meuleman and counsel for the Approval Holder, Samsung Pattern, Sarah Powell and appellant counsel Asha James.
Palmer says after the submissions from the three parties, the tribunal reserved judgement as to whether or not Palmer can testify as an expert.
The MOE and Samsung Pattern have concerns in that area.
Palmer says he’s asked to be qualified as a professional engineer to testify about the public safety and acoustic issues that will relate to the Armow project.
Earlier in the day, the tribunal dismissed any effort to exclude medical evidence that wasn’t backed up by formal medical diagnosis.
ERT Chair Marcia Valiante said witnesses could testify to personal health effects and symptoms but they could not draw conclusions from those events.
Appellate lawyer Asha James says she believes the tribunals decision is the correct one.
The hearings come as a result of an appeal by Ken and Sharon Kroeplin who charge the Armow wind project could be a major threat to their health.
The Kroeplins say one of the more than 90 turbines to be constructed will be within 600 metres of their home.
The hearings are continuing today and an additional three weeks have been set aside in January, beginning on the 6th.
The Armow Wind project was approved by the province in October.