February 5, 2016 —
Ontario’s current noise regulations are not thorough enough to protect the health of citizens, and proposed new regulations will be worse, Wind Concerns Ontario has informed Ontario’s new Environmental Commissioner (ECO) in a letter.
“The present regulation is built on the World Health Organization’s night time noise limit for road, rail and airport noise of 40 dB(A). The noise standard generated the 550 metre setback used by Ontario. The effectiveness of that standard to wind turbines has always been questioned, but the learning from the impact of existing projects in Ontario on residents that are living among the turbines suggests that the current setbacks are not sufficient to prevent serious health issues,” president Jane Wilson wrote.
“We understand that the MOECC has received over 2,700 complaints about wind turbine noise [over a five-year period] but even with a Freedom of Information request, we have not been able to get even summary details on these complaints.
“No information is available on the follow-up that the MOECC has undertaken on these complaints or steps taken to address these real concerns.
“In most organizations, that level of negative feedback on a program would trigger a serious review of the policy that is triggering them,” Wind Concerns asserted.
While new regulations have been proposed there is no mention of infrasound or inaudible noise which the newer more powerful turbines now being built and proposed around Ontario produce, WCO said in the letter.
“The rating of wind turbines being installed in Ontario has increased considerably since the Ontario standards were established with no change in the regulations to ensure the protection of affected residents,” WCO said. “With the newer 3+-megawatt (MW) wind turbines involved in the most recent projects, reports coming to us indicate that health issues are surfacing sooner and the symptoms are more severe. ”
Recent research and reports, including one by the Canadian Council of Academies, indicates that use of the A-weighted measurement for noise does not provide a complete picture of wind turbine noise emissions. The letter cites the Cape Bridgewater study by Steven Cooper of Australia, and testimony by Dr. Paul Schomer at the appeal of the White Pines project, and states, this is further proof that the Ontario regulations are inadequate.
While the current view is that wind power projects may be beneficial to the environment, the fact is that due to the intermittent nature of wind power generation, more power generation from fossil-fuel sources is required, which may result in more greenhouse gas emissions, Wind Concerns Ontario said, referring to a report from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.
“Addressing these concerns should be an urgent priority,” the letter concluded.
To see the full letter, click here: letterforenvironmentcommissionerfinal