The Green Energy Act is not gone
As long as old regulations for wind turbine noise and setbacks remain unchanged in Ontario, anger is not going anywhere
September 1, 2021
Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is reported to have said of citizens objecting to wind power projects in 2009: “They can’t stay mad forever”.
But, it seems they can.
Writer Tom Van Dusen explores this in the August 24 edition of Ontario Farmer and asks, why, when the Nation Rise power project has been approved and is now operating, after lost citizen appeals and even a court case, is the opposition to the project just as strong?
Why aren’t people just accepting of the 29 giant turbines, and getting on with their lives?
Appeal process was a sham
For one thing, there is the sense of injustice about it all. Almost every single wind power project was appealed, before 2009 to the Ontario Municipal Board and after, when the Green Energy Act prescribed an appeal process before the Environmental Review Tribunal. Legal writers have described the task of appeal as almost impossible to win, the way the rules were set up. Instead of power developers having to prove there would be no harm, citizens, with limited time and resources, had to prove there would be.
Birds killed? Sure, Ontario said, but turbines would have to kill so many that entire species would be wiped out. Impossible. (Except when it came to turtles…)
A recent academic paper showed that “the people were not wrong” in their concerns about the dangers to people and the environment that led them to take action. Many of the risks they foresaw in the power development proposals have actually become reality.
Among those, noise is paramount. The Ontario government now has about 7,000 formal complaint records called incident Reports dating back to 2006. There appears to be no process in which these records are collected and submitted to the environment ministry for review, analysis and action. They stay in the District Offices until asked for (which we do, every year.) There are families in Ontario who have been complaining about noise for five years and more—there is no effective response.
The Green Energy Act is not gone
The Green Energy Act may have been repealed in Ontario but the Regulation that governs noise limits and setbacks, Regulation 359/09, still exists, unchanged from 2009.
The Renewable Energy Approval process is likewise unchanged; if there were to be another rush for wind power (like the City of Ottawa is proposing as “local” power), the process will not save anyone from being invaded by huge turbines that will make noise, produce vibration and sound pressure, and will affect wildlife.
Disturbed water wells are another concern: dozens of families in North Kent are awaiting the results of a public health investigation into why their wells, some operating for decades without problems, suddenly stopped working after construction began on a wind power project.
Developers claim that griping “non-participating” landowners are just jealous of the lease fees. It’s true that it is tough when they see leaseholders driving around in new trucks, said one Nation Rise resident. But the reason it’s tough is because their actions left other property owners with homes that have lost value, and are perhaps not even sellable.
Opposition to wind turbine projects continues around the world, and is growing in the U.S. where some states (New York) are actually forcing through legislation to steamroll over local opposition. And there is opposition, with key states being Illinois, Michigan, New York and Vermont, to name a few.
Mr. McGuinty was wrong: we CAN stay mad forever…and we will until there is justice for the unwilling neighbours of industrial wind power projects.
Wind Concerns Ontario
What needs to happen:
REVISE Regulation 359/09 with new setback distances and noise limits
Revise Renewable Energy Approval process to reflect reality of wind turbine noise emissions
Revise and update 2010 Chief Medical Officer of Health statement on wind turbine noise and health
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