Kincardine wind turbine noise study to be a “trailblazer”

A crane is seen at an Armow Wind turbine construction site northeast of Kincardine. (TROY PATTERSON/KINCARDINE NEWS)

Turbine under construction at Armow project, west of Kincardine. Photo: Troy Patterson, Kincardine News

Kincardine News, August 25, 2015

Can the municipality succeed where no legal challenge, bylaw, or protest has in the fight against provincial wind turbine projects?

A majority of Kincardine council seems to think so.

Following a vote at the last council meeting, municipal staff issued a request for proposals from sound engineers to conduct baseline acoustic measurements before the Armow Wind turbines become operational.

The hope is the municipality can demonstrate that infrasound is the culprit of motion sickness-like symptoms reported by dozens of residents living close to existing turbine projects in the municipality: a theory articulated at a council meeting earlier this month by acoustician Kevin Allan Dooley, who was invited to the meeting by members of Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeshore Turbines (HALT).

In his presentation, Dooley pointed to research showing that certain patterns of infrasound are sensed by humans whenever they are in motion — whether walking, biking or riding in a car. For a minority of people, if they sense these patterns when not in motion, it creates a sensory conflict that can cause symptoms associated with motion sickness, including sleep deprivation, nausea, headaches and dizziness, Dooley said. He believes wind turbine noise emissions create these same infrasound patterns when they pass into a home and are the so-far elusive culprit of “turbine sickness.” His firm is developing a device that would suppress such infrasound patterns that he says will be on the market in the next few years.

HALT’s Deb Morris asked a receptive council to take action to ensure baseline measurements are taken before the Armow Wind project is operational, so it can be used to investigate the infrasound theory.

Before voting against the proposal to hire sound engineers, Coun. Laura Haight asked what council’s end game would be by going alone and without consulting Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, which is responsible for renewable energy oversight.

Mayor Anne Eadie suggested baseline measurements would be a base for further study and comparison, once the turbine project becomes operational.

Coun. Jacqueline Faubert said the MOE had written its noise protocols expressly to deny residents and municipalities with the means to effectively challenge projects, and that Kincardine could be an “innovator” and blaze a trail for other municipalities struggling with their own turbine issues.

Although the costs of hiring the sound engineers couldn’t be estimated at the time, council has previously voted to put aside payments associated with the Armow Wind project for such efforts.

Council also voted to conduct an independent review of a noise impact report by Armow Wind — the bill to be covered by the company as per provincial regulations.

 

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