Parker Gallant looks at Ontario’s smart meter program: expensive and costing more and–guess what?–a cost-benefit analysis was never done
A letter writer asks the First Nations to think about the consequences to the environment of a wind power project they support on Manitoulin/”Great Spirit” Island.
Wind developer MK Ince gets a rough ride at Cavan-Monaghan Council; told to take his turbines somewhere else
For those who think Europe is the haven for wind power generation done well, and where citizens are happy with the beautiful turbines spinning happily in the breeze, this will be a shock: people are sick, the landscape is ruined, and property values (and lives) devastated.
This short video comes from Russia Today via Facebook; thanks to Esther Wrightman and the Middlesex-Lambton group for calling attention to it.
US-based wind power developer NextEra has built a storage facility without bothering to get proper zoning or permissions.
Concerns about health issues dominate a hearing on the Dufferin Wind Power project. Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill is not encouraged by response from the province.
Insurance co Co-operators has given a grant to a “cooperative” planning to build a five-turbine wind power project at Ernestown, near Kingston Ontario. More on this later, but for now, here is the news story.
Obviously, Co-operators wants to give a boost to things “green” but they haven’t done their homework on this one…
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 participation
Plans 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.
From physicist John Droz, a list of the chemical and material components of a 3-MW wind turbine
Here is a link to a CBC story on the recent Association of Ontario Municipalities conference. We should add here what Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott said: “a year from now, in August 2014, wind power is going to be the hot topic in the Ontario municipal elections.”
Turbines in Windsor-Essex region
Amherstburg, as well as several municipalities in Lambton County, have put their foot down when it comes to wind turbines.
Amherstburg is among 64 communities that are on an “unwilling hosts” list. Those municipalities don’t want any more wind turbines going up. Another 33 municipalities have “expressed concern” about turbines. Leamington is on that list.
Currently there are more than 100 hundred wind turbines in the Windsor Essex Region and like Amherstburg – Leamington may soon join the “unwilling” list as well. A recent proposal to ban wind turbines in the Leamington area was brought to council last week.
Along with solar power, wind energy is hailed as the way of the future but this type of power generation has many in the province divided.
Until a recent trip to Ottawa, the Ontario government may not have been listening to the concerns of municipalities, according to Leamington mayor John Patterson.
“We had no authority, no power to say where solar farms or wind turbine products could be located,” said Patterson. “Now we have a say … but if the government determines that it’s viable they will probably approve the farm.”
But after attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference last week, Patterson says the government is willing to listen to concerns from across the province.
Patterson was glad to hear that, because some residents say turbines are a drag on the municipality.
“Property values are driven down because wind turbines are established everywhere and driving down our tax base. There’s an argument on both sides of that point,” he said. “Knowing past discussions on this when there was a proposal to put 750 turbines out in Pigeons Bay, it caught the attention of every tax payer in both communities. I suspect the same kind of feeling may exist on council in regards to turbines on the land.”