Wainfleet Council protests changes to Niagara wind power project without public consultation
Newer turbines proposed will actually increase sound power levels, Alderman says. “They’re walking all over us.”
Erie Media, January 10, 2016
Ald. Betty Konc has requested a letter to be drafted from the Township of Wainfleet and sent to the Ontario Minister of Energy and the Deputy Minister of Energy.
“They need to hear from the municipalities,” Ald. Konc said in a later interview. “We need to stand up and fight for ourselves.”
This action is in response to a letter that was submitted to Wainfleet Township council from Shiloh Berriman, Project Coordinator – FWRN LP and J.A. (Al) Leggett, Project Manager – Stantec Consulting Ltd. The letter was in reference to proposed changes to the Niagara Region Wind Farm Renewable energy project.
“They are asking to change the entire project,” Ald. Konc said in the Jan. 5th Wainfleet Township Council meeting. “The whole 77 turbines, they’re asking to be switched out from E101’s and E82’s from a height of 135m down to 124m.”
“That may sound like it’s a win, but, it really isn’t,” she said. “It does have to do with sound power levels.”
“The province has stated in their EPR registry that taller turbines are quieter,” she said. “Though that’s not true, but that’s what they believe.”
“So this if particular project is allowed to go forward with these changes, which are massive, they have not submitted documentation for these changes,” she said. “It this is what they wanted to do why didn’t they ask for that when they were going through the REA process (Renewable Energy Approvals: http://www.ontario.ca/page/renewable-energy-approvals ).”
“So when they put the 135’s down to 124, you are actually increasing the sound power levels which means that people who are going to be closest to these turbines and affected by them are going to be listening to over 40dB of sound power which is against their own rules,” she said.
“We need to stand up as a community and stop being run over by these people,” she said.
According to the article Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague from Medscape by Lisa Goines, RN, Louis Hagler, MD, “It is known, for example, that continuous noise in excess of 30 dB disturbs sleep.”
The article goes on to say “Long-term psychosocial effects have been related to nocturnal noise. Noise annoyance during the night increases total noise annoyance for the following 24 hours. Particularly sensitive groups include the elderly, shift workers, persons vulnerable to physical or mental disorders, and those with sleep disorders.”
The article also draws this conclusion regarding low frequency sound and vibration: “Other factors that influence the problem of night-time noise include its occurrence in residential areas with low background noise levels and combinations of noise and vibration such as produced by trains or heavy trucks. Low frequency sound is more disturbing, even at very low sound pressure levels; these low frequency components appear to have a significant detrimental effect on health.”
According to an article in Environmental Health Perspectives, Wind Turbines: A Different Breed of Noise? by Nate Seltenrich, “Multiple recent studies, including one coauthored by Daniel Shepherd, senior lecturer at New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology, have demonstrated that sleep interference gets worse the nearer residents are to turbines. ‘Sleep is absolutely vital for an organism,’ he says. ‘When we lose a night’s sleep, we become dysfunctional. The brain is an important organ, and if noise is disturbing its functioning, then that is a direct health effect.’”
According to this article “Wind turbines generate lower frequencies of sound than traffic. These lower frequencies tend to be judged as more annoying than higher frequencies and are more likely to travel through walls and windows. Infrasound, or sound frequency lower than 20 Hz—inaudible to the human ear—has been associated in some studies with symptoms including fatigue, sleeplessness, and irritability, as well as with changes to the physiology of the inner ear that have poorly understood implications.”
“Because I work so closely with Mothers against Wind Turbines and the West Lincoln Wind Action Group (wlwag), they notified probably about a month-and-a-half ago that the changes were being requested,” Ald. Betty Konc said in a later interview. “I just saw red when I saw this in our correspondence package because we’re one of the municipalities that are going to be affected by the proposed changes and we are one of the last to find out.”
“This is so typical of wind developers, they have been given ‘carte blanche’ to come in and walk all over the municipalities,” she said.
“When I saw this, I thought ‘Really you want to wait till the last minute to tell one of the three municipalities you are working in that you want these changes?,’” she said. “They aren’t little changes, they’re huge!”
“It’s a whole new project,” she said.
“What’s the motive behind the company wanting to change the turbines from 135m down to 124m? I don’t know, it’s probably cheaper to produce for them or something like that, we will probably never know,” she said. “They will also change the output level as well from 3 megawatt to 2.9, only .1 difference.”
“So they are changing the whole project, if this what they wanted to do, why didn’t they submit the paperwork in the original REA process?” she said.
“In my mind and in the minds of the Mothers against Wind Turbines and wlwag, this is a whole new project and it needs to go through the REA process and the current one needs to be null and void,” she said.
“According to the rules that are coming out for 2016 with regards to the next intake of projects this (if started as a new project) would not be allowed under the new rules this year, so they are trying to slide it in,” she said. “So they submitted their paperwork for these changes back in October but, still, we didn’t get the notice until Dec. 16.”
“Because of the way they’ve done this, there’s no real formal comment time,” she said. “With an REA, the public and the municipality get 60 days to comment on the project.”
“I agree with you (Ald. Konc),” Mayor April Jeffs said in the council meeting when drafting the letter was discussed. “It’s been verified and there are other people concerned, I think this is a good idea.”
At the conclusion of the issue it was voted unanimously that officially Wainfleet Township council will be drafting and sending a letter to the Ontario Minister of Energy, the Deputy Minister and the Region of Niagara (on the Mayor’s suggestion) and copies will be sent West Lincoln and Lincoln as they too will be affected by the proposed changes.
“We’re standing up and saying ‘Look this is a whole new project, they’re walking all over us and we don’t want to see this happen,’” Ald. Betty Konc said.