More grief for Ontario’s rural communities, Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers: the 180MW Arnow wind power project was approved today.
Responses to comments and more details on the EBR here.
West Elgin Council asked residents for their opinion on hosting wind power generation projects. The answer? No.
Here from New York Magazine, a very worrying tale about an air traffic controller who lives near wind turbines.
How hard is it to understand that if you are sleep-deprived, you are not well? (Sylvia Davis of the Ministry of the Environment?)
Excerpt follows; go the website for the full story.
(Photo: Christopher Griffith/Trunk Archive)
On May 4, 2012, at around 8:30 a.m., air-traffic controller Mark J. Cool put two planes on a collision course over Cape Cod. “Runway 14” is what Cool heard the Coast Guard controller say when he okayed a Falcon jet for takeoff from the airport. “Runway 23” is what the controller actually said. That set the jet directly in the flight path of a twin-prop Cool had just released from another airport. On his radar display, two green splats lurched ever closer as he made a series of frantic radio contacts to set them on a corrected course. Cool’s supervisor and colleagues crowded behind him in a crescent of worry. The planes came within two thirds of a mile and 500 feet of altitude of one another. A few seconds later, they would have crashed.
Cool was immediately taken off duty, and before he could return to the boards, his supervisors flew in a guy from California to counsel him in sleep and stress management.
The cause of his near-fatal mistake, Cool insists, was the 40-story wind turbine a third of a mile behind his home in Falmouth, Massachusetts. For two years, he had been suffering from insomnia and headaches, which left him fatigued, distracted, and stressed out. It wasn’t the turbine’s noise that woke him or made his head hurt; he believes some intangible mechanism was at work, an invisible and inaudible wind turbulence. And it was all he could talk about.
“Everybody at work was like, ‘Ah, jeez’—ya know, every time I walk in, ‘Cool is talking about wind turbines,’ ” he says. “So it had pretty much captured my life.”
A 55-year-old former Navy man, Cool says his annual flight physicals, which include an EKG and a vision test, have always shown him to be “healthy as a horse.” But he started getting mysterious headaches in April 2010, almost two weeks after the turbine was turned on behind the sprawling Colonial he shares with his wife, Annie, who began battling sleep loss around the same time. He was out tending his garden when his ears started popping as though he were gaining altitude in an airplane. That turned into head congestion, which became a relentlessly painful pressure behind his ears, at the base of his head. “Not like put-your-finger-in-a-socket pain, just a dull constant,” he says. The headache didn’t go away until he left home four hours later on an errand.
For the next few weeks, the headaches hit when he was in the yard working. Cool went to see his doctor, who prescribed allergy medicine, but that didn’t help. And then he heard from a couple of neighbors who were suffering from ear popping and headaches, too, and had trouble sleeping. “It was kind of a relief,” he says, to realize he was not the only one. “I came back and started talking to my wife about it: ‘What’s new in the neighborhood? The wind turbine.’ ” It was a quick-and-dirty calculus.
Then his symptoms got worse. …
Following the closing arguments of the Environmental Review Tribunal based on the appeal of the wind power project at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to the Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley on an issue of grave concern.
The MoE lawyer, Ms Sylvia Davis, was heard to remark that the reports of ill health from the appellants’ witnesses were not to be given any weight because they are “psychogenic,”* she said. In other words, a government lawyer was inferring that the witnesses’ reports of health problems–which the Tribunal in its decision found “credible”–were simply the result of psychological stress.
It was heart-breaking for those witnesses who gave up their time to testify and reveal their private suffering, to hear a government lawyer dismiss their situations in this way.
In our letter to the Minister, we asked, is this government policy? To blame confirmed health problems on the victims’ own mental state?
And how does this mesh with other well intentioned, taxpayer-funded initiatives to de-stigmatize mental health issues?
We received a response, sort of, today. Here it is:
Dear Ms. Wilson:I have received a copy of your email of June 26, 2013 about my ministry’s policy regarding wind turbine noise and health.I recognize your interest in issues relating to the approval of the development at Ostrander Point. As you know, the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal is currently under appeal. I hope you will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on matters which are currently before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court.Thank you for bringing your concerns to our government’s attention.Yours sincerely,
We will continue our fight to have the noise complaints that are registered by the hundreds followed up, and we will continue our fight to have the voices of the victims of wind turbine environmental noise heard.And we will continue the fight to halt the advance of these huge, noise-producing power generators that are completely inappropriate next to our homes and communities.
*This comes, of course, from a spurious paper by Chapman which alleges that there are no health problems, that people just worry themselves sick because they don’t like change.
The current edition of the Canadian Family Physician journal contains a letter to the editor, responding to comment on the authors’ article published in the journal last May. The comments were made by pro-wind power and IBM employee Mike Barnard.
The full article is available here.
Here from the Guardian an interesting report from Australia: almost no mention of renewable sources of power, plenty of focus on fossil fuels, a promise to look into thorium as a power source, and once again, a promise to conduct a health study into turbine noise.
There has been an interesting exchange of letters in the Belwood area over the last week, in the Wellington Advertiser newspaper.
Last week, a reader wrote this:
Stories about the turbine windmills intrigued me. But is there anyone out there that can explain the difference between these large “fans” and other fans that surround us?
Why do these windmills purportedly harm us, yet we see no problem with the much closer fans in the stove, in the microwave, on the ceiling, in our computers and vehicles?
Don’t these fans whirling about, making noise and impacting the air have an effect as well?
/Anita Zomer, GUELPH/
Here is a letter from area resident Robert Service, explaining the difference between wind turbines and what some people think they are.
RE: Large fans, Aug. 30.
I’d like to attempt to describe the difference between a household fan and an industrial wind turbine for a previous letter writer.
The first difference is clearly size; one is about six inches tall, the other is one quarter the size of the CN Tower.
The next distinctions lie in the intensity and duration of the noise pollution produced. Household fans are used over short periods and their use does not require the owner to abandon their home.
The industrial wind turbines, on the other hand, have laid waste to neighbourhood after neighbourhood, with the sound approximating a 747 landing at Pearson airport.
Another distinction can be seen in the control the homeowner has over the sound of the fan. A household fan can be turned off at the owner’s discretion, while the unfortunate neighbour of an industrial wind turbine factory is constantly subjected to the incessant and damaging effects of the machines. To add insult to injury, this is totally out of their control.
Quite frankly, I’d have no objection to my neighbour installing a new home fan. I hope I’ve helped clarify the writer’s understanding of the issue.
Robert Service, RR1 BELWOOD
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNECE has released a startling decision that could well have repercussions as a precedent for Ontario. Responding to a complaint filed by a resident of Scotland, the UNECE ruled that the UK was not employing full public participation in environmental issues and further –hear this, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Energy–that the government should ensure that the full range of effects, both positive and negative, should be disclosed for wind power projects.
The report is here.
Exclusive: UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy
Tribunal warns that the Government acted illegally by denying public participationPlans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy after a United Nations legal tribunal ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects.
The new ruling, agreed by a United Nations committee in Geneva, calls into question the legal validity of any further planning consent for all future wind-farm developments based on current policy, both onshore and offshore.
The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process.
The UNECE committee has also recommended that the UK must in the future submit all plans and programmes similar in nature to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan to public participation, as required by Article 7.
The controversial decision will come as a blow for the Coalition’s wind-power policy, which is already coming under attack from campaigners who want developments stopped because of medical evidence showing that the noise from turbines is having a serious impact on public health as well as damaging the environment.
Legal experts confirm the UNECE decision is a “game-changer” for future wind-turbine developments in the UK. David Hart, QC, an environmental lawyer, said: “This ruling means that consents and permissions for further wind-farm developments in Scotland and the UK are liable to challenge on the grounds that the necessary policy preliminaries have not been complied with, and that, in effect, the public has been denied the chance to consider and contribute to the NREAP.”
The UN’s finding is a landmark victory for Christine Metcalfe, 69, a community councillor from Argyll, who lodged a complaint with the UN on the grounds that the UK and EU had breached citizens’ rights under the UN’s Aarhus Convention.
She claimed the UK’s renewables policies have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about, or to ascertain, the alleged benefits in reducing CO2 and harmful emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy.
Ms Metcalfe made the legal challenge on behalf of the Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council at the Committee Hearing in Geneva last December. She and the AKCC decided to take action after their experience of dealing with the building of the local Carraig Gheal wind farm and problems surrounding the access route, an area of great natural beauty.
The retired councillor said she was “relieved” by the UN decision. “We were criticised by some for making this challenge but this result absolves us of any possible accusations of wrong-doing… The Government needs to do more than just give ordinary people the right to comment on planning applications; they deserve to be given all the facts.”
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “We are aware of this decision and we are considering our response. Wind is an important part of our energy mix providing clean home-grown power to millions of homes. Developers of both offshore and onshore wind farms do consult with communities and provide generous benefits packages.”
The Aarhus Convention: What is it?
The Aarhus Convention, or the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, is named after the Danish city where it was first established by a UN summit.
It sets up a number of rights for individuals and associations in regard to the environment. People can request to know the health risks linked to the state of the environment and applicants should be informed within one month of the request.
It also ensures the public get a say in any environmental project such as a wind farm. Public authorities must provide information about environmental projects, and those affected by such schemes must be told if they are going ahead and why.
Here is a story today from the Globe and Mail announcing a wind power project for a nickel mine in Quebec’s Nunavik region.
Many people (including the lawyers for Gilead Power at the recent Environmental Review Tribunal) try to characterize Wind Concerns Ontario and our members as being opposed to anything “renewable” or “green.”
Here you have an industrial use of power generation from wind (note that otherwise, the mine would be totally dependent on diesel fuel for power generation) for an industrial use. There are several diamond mines in the Northwest Territories also using wind energy to generate power.
These examples simply underscore how wrong-headed Ontario’s policy is regarding wind power: these industrial-scale turbines are more appropriate for an industrial use–they should never be placed near homes and schools.
Stephen Harper used the final stop in his annual northern Canadian tour to champion a project that would harness wind energy to help power a massive nickel mining operation in Quebec’s Nunavik region.
Remote communities and industry such as Xtrata Nickel Inc.’s Raglan Mine are dependent on diesel-based energy generation today.
The Harper government has given $720,000 to TUGLIQ Energy Co. and Xstrata Nickel Inc. to study the feasibility of integrating wind energy into an existing diesel-based electricity system in Nunavik.
The proposed system would generate energy from wind and store surplus wind energy through hydrogen, providing a stable and sustainable source of energy at Raglan Mine.
If the plan works, a clean energy project could be operating at the mine by March 2016.
“Canadians … expect that Canadian resources will be developed with future generations in mind … in ways that make sensible use of energy and respect the environment,” Mr. Harper said.
“If this technology works here in the way we hope it will, the implications for power generation across the North are enormous. In other words, it could be a ’Eureka!’ moment.”
This project is one of the 55 that aim to produce and use energy in a cleaner, more efficient way. Support is being provided through Natural Resources Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative.
Raglan Mine, located in the sub-arctic permafrost of Northern Quebec, was brought into production in 1997. Raglan employs almost 1,000 full-time workers, many of whom come from local communities.