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 Ministry of Environment “blind” says lawyer Falconer

Lawyers Asha James and Julian Falconer, centre, surrounded by surrounded by the client families and supporters
Lawyers Asha James and Julian Falconer, centre, surrounded by surrounded by the client families and supporters [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]
The hearing of an appeal against the approval of three Ontario wind power generation projects has concluded in Ontario Divisional Court in London.

Human rights lawyer Julian Falconer was the main lawyer for the families and community groups appealing the power projects, and presented the judicial panel with a number of issues this week, including the question as to whether Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, in hearing appeals as part of the approval process for wind projects, was in fact upholding the intent of the law, which is to protect the health of Ontario’s citizens.

An interesting development was the fact that the judges themselves asked questions of the government lawyers with regard to the nature of citizens’ warnings about health and safety issues. One pointed question concerned the recently released summary of the results of Health Canada’s wind turbine noise and health study. The judge asked, if the study design was such that no conclusions can be made about an association between turbine noise and adverse health effects, why should the study be used to show that there are NOT?

Falconer’s theme throughout the hearing was that Ontario’s citizens are not well served by the current approval and appeals process, and there is no justice afforded to families who will be, and those who are, affected by the wind power generating projects.

In closing, Falconer said of the Ministry of the Environment, “There is none so blind as those that will not see.”

The appeal was to reverse the approval of and stay construction of the K2, Armow, and St Columban wind power projects.

 

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)

Stay of wind farm construction hearing in London: people vs profits

Supporters gather at the London Court House yesterday
Supporters gather at the London Court House yesterday

The legal proceeding held September 22 in London, Ontario to hear arguments for and against a stay of construction for the K2 Wind and St. Columban wind projects ended in late afternoon.

According to documents filed earlier this month, the “Appellants seek a stay of theconstruction of the St. Columban Energy LP WindProject and the K2 Wind Project, pursuant to Rule 63.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, s. 106 of the Courts of Justice Act 2 and s. 24(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 3 restraining the Respondents St. Columban Energy LP (“St. Columban”), and K2 Wind Ontario Inc., K2 Wind Ontario Limited Partnership (“K2 Wind”) from all construction-related activities until the resolution of the appeals.”

The courtroom was packed with supporters and media.

Lawyer for the Drennan and Dixon families, human rights specialist Julian Falconer, laid out the arguments for the stay of construction, concluding that this was a situation of people vs. profits, where the big money interests of the wind developers had taken precedence over assurances that people’s health and other rights would not be affected.

The hearing adjourned at approximately 5 p.m.; the judge promised she would do her best to render a decision on the matter quickly.

The appeal hearings begin in November.

For more information on the legal action, and for a link to donate toward covering legal fees, please go to the website for Safe Wind Energy for Everyone (SWEAR).

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

Parker Gallant has questions for Energy Minister Chiarelli

Stipula_fountain_pen

Parker Gallant has written a letter to Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, as a concerned citizen of Ontario. He has included a series of pointed questions on the energy portfolio in Ontario, specifically what value there is for taxpayers and ratepayers, and what the effect will be on the Ontario economy.

Sample questions:

Why does the Ontario Power Authority claim it will pick up old refrigerators for “free” when the truth is, everyone is paying for that service?

Why does Ontario list “conservation” as a source of power when you can’t exactly plug a toaster into it.

Why does Ontario hand out grants of $650 to people buying energy-efficient air conditioners but only give $400 to less than 1% of Ontario’s citizens who are suffering from “energy poverty” and can’t pay their electricity bills? (And don’t get him started on the huge grants to people buying expensive Tesla electric cars…)

Read the full letter here! Letter to Energy Minister with questions

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.

Fairview wind project re-posted for comment

Deadline for comments is August 23rd.

The 16.4-MW Fairview project in Clearview Township, which was returned to the developer because of a lack of a heritage assessment, has now been reposted for a 30-day comment period.

The link to post comments is here.

The new documentation from wpd is here.

Interesting note from the EBR site: Since the REA application was received on September 5, 2012 and deemed complete on December 3, 2013, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) determined that Cultural Heritage Studies were not undertaken for the portion of the study area located north of County Road 91. In addition, during the technical review, wpd Fairview Wind Incorporated informed the MOECC that they were making technical changes to the project, including using alternative access to turbines T1, T5, T6 and T8.

HOW IS IT that documents are “deemed complete” and then–oh, my–one of them wasn’t even there?

In other news, the 102-MW Goshen project near Bluewater,  and the 2.5 MW Quixote One project near Tiverton, were approved.