The Flesherton, November 9, 2015
Wind Turbine Sounds Study
by Don Crosby
Grey Highlands council was about to lend $120,000 to a special interest group. Then it decided instead to approve $75,000 for a municipal study on health effects of wind turbine sounds.
Municipality of Grey Highlands council had already agreed to lend money, that it would borrow from a bank on behalf of the group, to the Grey Highlands Wind Concerns, an anti-wind turbine citizen’s group.
However, strong public objection against the municipal loan prompted council to apply some terms that the group was concerned about meeting. The group has now arranged to borrow the needed money from a private lender, Flesherton businessman Kevin O’Brien.
Stewart Halliday, deputy-mayor, announced at the November 2 council meeting that Grey Highlands Wind Concerns withdrew its request that the municipality lend it $120,000 to pay off expenses it had incurred in its failed appeal of two wind projects to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT). On August 13, the ERT dismissed the appeal against Zero Emission People (ZEP) project – a five wind turbine project near McIntyre – and on October 16, the tribunal dismissed the appeal against Grey Highlands Clean Energy, a nine wind turbine project planned for the Brewster Lake area.
But, at the same November municipal council meeting, councilors voted to spend up to $75,000 to gather acoustical and infrasound information on a total of five sites within the ZEP project and the Grey Highlands Clean Energy. The two projects will have a combined total of 14 wind turbines.
Voting in favour of spending the $75,000 were Mayor McQueen, Deputy-mayor Halliday and Councilors Silverton and Desai. Councilors Terry Mokriy, Cathy Little and Peggy Harris voted against the motion.
Halliday, who crafted the motion calling for the study, says he wants the municipality to use the information gathered in the study to develop a bylaw protecting residents from the effects of unregulated infrasound waves.
The study would be conducted around the clock over a minimum seven days period on five homes located close to proposed wind turbine sites within the two projects prior to construction and then again once the projects are working.
Councilor Little says the proposed study is beyond the capacity of the municipality. “The $75,000 is just the initial cost to get the baseline data; there will be further studies to be conducted once the project is completed, there will be future costs. In addition the study would have to be peer reviewed and that would be an additional cost,” she says.
“If you’re committing to the $75,000 you must know you are committing to more than that because if you don’t it’s a waste of the $75,000,” she says.
Councilor Mokriy, who also voted against the expense, questioned the effectiveness of a small municipality spending $75,000 on a study.
Money for the Grey Highlands baseline study will come from the building services department. It is proposed that the money will be repaid from the future property tax revenues received from the industrial wind installations yet to be constructed.
A Health Canada study has found no evidence to support a link between exposure to wind-turbine noise and ill health effects reported by people living near the towering structures.
The Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study, conducted over a four-month period in 2013, involved more than 1,200 residents in southwestern Ontario and PEI whose homes were located at various distances from almost 400 of the electricity-generating structures in 18 wind-turbine developments.
The same study did find a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and residents’ annoyance related to that noise, as well as to vibration, shadow flicker from the rotating blades, and aircraft warning lights atop the towers.
According to a story in Canadian Lawyer magazine from September, 2015, “There have been nearly 30 hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal, seeking to stop so-called wind farms, since the enactment of the Green Energy Act in Ontario in 2009. Each time, local residents, usually in rural areas, have been unsuccessful in meeting the legal test to revoke or change the terms of a permit issued by the province for a wind energy project.”
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO EDITOR’S NOTE: the statements here on the Health Canada study are not accurate. The study was never designed to find a causal link between wind turbine noise and health impacts (which begs the question: what was the $2.1 million study for? to back up the wind industry’s claims their product is safe?), but it did find a link between the turbine noise and vibration and “annoyance” which when used as a medical term denotes stress or distress—Health Canada found that 16.5% of the respondents living less than 1 km from a turbine were stressed, and that number rose to 25% for people living at 550 metres, the distance Ontario claims is a safe setback.