Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Huge wind turbines are near completion in North Stormont, in Eastern Ontario. Now, a community has to find a way to heal, if it can, after a scattering of property owners consented to industrialization of the rural area that will affect everyone.
March 4, 2021
An editorial in the Eastern Ontario edition of Farmers Forum says “Toronto” should never have imposed the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power facility on the communities of North Stormont.
In his editorial titled “How wind turbines scarred a landscape and a community,” editor Patrick Meagher notes that the township conducted a survey of residents and found most didn’t want the wind turbine development, and then unanimously voted to declare North Stormont an “Unwilling Host”.
“But things didn’t go that way,” Meagher writes.
Weeks before the provincial election in 2018, the Liberal government “greenlighted the project. This was in spite of a longstanding agreement not to approve major projects when another government could take over. Wynne got a two-for-one deal, sticking it to the next government and the locals at Crysler, Berwick and Finch.” (The riding went Conservative.)
The wind power project caused strong feelings, Meagher says. “The project was so acrimonious that in this small community friendships broke up, family members stopped talking to each other, and more than 10 property owners sold their houses and moved away.”
Now the community is “stuck” with 29 huge turbines that are “large, inefficient, taxpayer-subsidized generators of intermittent power…not even a good business decision.”
“This ugly event is testimony to why governments should listen to the people they work for…Toronto should never have decided what should happen in this small farming community 400 kilometres away.”
The editorial also quoted former mayor Dennis Fife who said the community now has to try to move on.
A number of papers were published in 2020 that help to move knowledge about the environmental impact of wind turbine noise emissions forward, and point to the need for regulatory review and change in Ontario, and enforcement of all regulations. While staff at the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks insist they keep up and move with current research, the conclusions reached in the new work show that clearly isn’t true.
As well, important work is being done by independent researchers—people who know there is a serious problem with wind turbine noise emissions, and who are doing what they can to learn why … and what should be done.
Resident complaints proven by data
Early in the year, independent researcher William Palmer P. Eng published “Confirming Tonality at Residences Influenced by Wind Turbines” in the Journal of Energy Conservation. The article is based on the author’s research into resident complaints about a tonal quality to the noise perceived from the turbines in a 140-turbine Ontario wind power facility. The research is based on more than 200 data samples from two families. Here’s the thing: Palmer’s data confirmed a correlation between tonality measurements of 5 dB to more than 20 dB in more than 84 percent of the time. In other words, the resident complaints about a tonal quality to the noise were borne out by actual measurement.
That correlation, Palmer wrote, “gives a high degree of confidence that when residents identified the existence of tonality (which they had done since the turbines came into operation in 2015) was indeed an accurate description.” Add to that, the residents were able to identify times when the wind turbine noise emissions were NOT tonal–that was borne out by the measurements, too.
Palmer discussed a number of problems with the current compliance protocol and noise measurement procedures prescribed by Ontario regulations, including the use of A-weighted noise levels, which has been criticized in other work including reports by the World Health Organization and the Council of Canadian Academies. In Ontario, Palmer says, “the principal criteria for acceptability of the sound received by residents from wind turbines has been based on A-weighted noise level, with tonal presence only requires a small adjustment.” However, Palmer adds, he can find no examples of it being applied.
Another specific flaw, he notes, is that the compliance protocol for wind turbine noise is to monitor conditions for winds within about 45 degrees of the turbine which has the greatest predicted noise impact. In the case of the homes used in his research, that meant that for one house there was presumed to be “little or noise noise impact” when the wind was westerly or no impact when the wind was from the east. In fact, occasions when winds were from those directions actually accounted for 74 of 111 records of irritating or disturbing noise—about 67 percent of the time.
The people were not wrong
Another article, also by independent researchers, elaborated on this theme of citizen concerns about problems with wind turbines. (See also a 2019 paper, Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada.) In this case, the authors of Deja Vu: a review of lived experiences afterAppeals of Ontario Industrial-scale wind Power Facilities, looked at the appeal process for wind power facility approvals and what grounds had been used for citizens to file appeals of those approvals, despite what lawyers call an “uphill battle” to undertake that process. The authors found that the grounds for appeal were: environmental noise, adverse health effects, and other environmental effects such as disturbances to water wells and aquifers.
In the early days of these appeals, the appellants relied on the testimony of “post-turbine witnesses,” people who had experience living within wind power facilities, and who were experiencing health problems. One chair of the Environmental Review Tribunal decided that although the Tribunal “does not question the sincerity” of these witnesses, the quasi-judicial panel concluded that the health problems were self-diagnosed and the lack of evidence from medical professionals was a serious shortcoming.
Today, there are enough complaints throughout Ontario about wind turbine noise emissions that the reports should be seen as significant, the authors said. They cited other authors who called for “diligent enforcement” of regulations by government, and legal authors who observed that wind turbine concerns had been “trivialised” while the concerns for the environment and health were in fact “genuine.”
“The Government of Ontario holds thousands of records of citizen complaints in the form of Incident Reports, many of which are reports of excessive noise and vibration; a significant number includes accounts of the occurrence of adverse health effects,” the authors wrote. Complaints continue to be filed; “there is evidence to suggest that current regulations [in Ontario] are not adequate to protect health.”
“It appears that the people who were concerned about the risks to the environment and human health were not wrong. Those concerns—which led them to spend substantial amounts of money while participating in an unfamiliar, stressful quasi-judicial process—are now the reason for a significant number of complaints to government.”
In other words, what the people feared might happen with the advent of the wind turbines, has now actually come to pass.
Excerpts from interviews with the participants told the story. People had learned that the only thing they could do to relieve the discomfort and problems of the wind turbine noise was to leave.
“When I left my home in the morning, or quite often in the middle of the night and then slept on my vehicle away from the turbines, I would recover from all these symptoms,” said one.
“We left home many times for the day just because of the noise here…we couldn’t stand it,” said another.
Of the 67 study participants, 28 had already abandoned their homes, another 31 were thinking about doing that, and four had decided to stay. The reasons were, the authors concluded, “to obtain temporary and/or partial relief from the occurrence of adverse health effects.”
The authors noted that in some cases, pre-existing health conditions were made worse by living near wind turbines; they called for more study to be done immediately.
At the end of the day…
The people of Ontario were promised a process that included regulation of noise, a protocol to assess compliance, and enforcement of the regulations.
Clearly, after more than 10 years, this promise, made under previous governments, has not been fulfilled. There are serious technical issues with the protocols in place and with the assumptions that underlie the regulatory process.
The Ontario government must:
establish an independent research panel to review current research on wind turbine noise emissions in six months, or less
remove the outdated and inadequate 2010 report of the Chief Medical Officer of Health from the public record
enforce existing regulations
resolve current complaints from citizens
revise and update the compliance protocol
develop new noise regulations, and
ENFORCE those regulations
We look forward to more research in 2021 to move us forward to change.
We continue to work toward improving awareness of the problems with industrial-scale wind power development, and to support Ontario families who have been adversely affected by the noise and vibration from wind turbines, and other effects.
“It was basically like a death when we had to move from our home”
New research catalogues the reasons behind families in Ontario who decided to abandon their homes after wind turbines started up.
June 29, 2020
“I couldn’t sleep anymore”
“Nowhere to go, no hiding from it [the noise]”
“We had beautiful water–you couldn’t drink it afterwards [turbines began operation]”
“I asked my doctor [if my health problems could be” about [wind] turbines. She said, ‘Yes’.”
Those are just a few of the comments made by Ontario residents who participated in a special study done by a team of health care professionals, acoustics specialists and investigators. A new paper by Dr. Robert McMurtry, Carmen Krogh, acoustics specialists Robert Rand, Jerry Punch, Stephen Ambrose and others*, reviews the reasons behind the desperate choice made by dozens of Ontario families to leave their homes, to preserve their health–both mental and physical.
The new paper, published last week, is based on a study carried out over three years involving 67 Ontario residents and additional family members for a total of 165 people. They all lived within 10 km of industrial-scale wind turbines or wind power generators.
More than half reported adverse health effects after being exposed to noise emissions and vibration from operating wind turbines; stray voltage and disturbed water wells were also cited as key factors in decisions to leave the houses. The people participating in the study had lived in their houses for a mean period of 20 years, or a range of three to 66 years.
The aim of the paper is to present policy-makers with information on the “potential outcomes of placing wind turbines near family homes,” the authors state in their conclusion.
“The comments made by the people in this study are just heart-breaking,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “We’ve seen them over and over in the Incident Reports we received from Freedom of Information requests, together with statements from people indicating they can’t put up with the turbines and the adverse effects anymore. It is well past time the government enforced the rules, changed the rules, and developed rules that truly protect the people of Ontario.
“Bravo to this study team, and all the work they’ve done to expose the terrible things that have happened to innocent citizens.”
Read the full paper here: https://m.scirp.org/papers/101098?fbclid=IwAR3XcUKEebiBR-sLAyIEbNpGHnP3-EQU3_hwtOx4_ovfW6f-cI6JQj7Igfc
*Other authors include community group leaders such as Anne Dumbrille (CCSAGE), Linda Rogers (Mothers Against Wind Turbines) and Debra Hughes.
Minister cancelled wind power project approval to “exercise precaution” regarding endangered bats; judges say, No and side with wind power lobby and developer on all points
May 15, 2020
A panel of judges in Toronto in the Ontario Superior Court released their decision yesterday over the Nation Rise wind power project in North Stormont, “quashing” the environment minister’s decision to revoke the project approval.
The decision is important —- and worrying —- as it appears to limit the environment minister’s powers to act over risks to the environment. Lawyer for the community group which filed appeals of the power project over a number of environmental concerns published a news release early this morning. It is available here: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/court-denies-minister-s-ability-to-protect-ontario-environment-823653654.html?fbclid=IwAR0ZEpgR1PRHmtE4lgDFu5SCI-WcVu5I4-TzXPf-b8pnZOyqsJ70ebu9fYM
Lawyer Eric Gillespie says that the decision rules the environment minister is unable to act and raise further issues after the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal has made a decision, even if there are factual errors alleged.
“This appears to leave the entire Province highly vulnerable,” said Margaret Benke of the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont group, calling the decision a “tremendous step backward for environmental protection.”
The Attorney General’s Office, which defended the minister’s decision in court, has yet to respond to yesterday’s decision.
“This is astonishing,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “We know how difficult it is to present environmental concerns before the Tribunal and how the test was made very difficult to meet. Yet almost every wind power project in Ontario has been appealed, at a cost of millions to citizens and municipal government. To handcuff the minister like this is very concerning.”
While the community group learned of the decision Wednesday afternoon, power developer EDPR had workers back at the site earlier in the day. Somehow, the NDP energy critic was also informed and posted a message about the minister’s “batty” decision on Twitter Wednesday evening.
The judges’ decision is here: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onscdc/doc/2020/2020onsc2984/2020onsc2984.html?resultIndex=3
Wind Concerns Ontario releases a report on Ontario government records of 2017 wind turbine noise complaints
A report released today by Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) shows that the government under Premier Kathleen Wynne did little to respond to citizen reports of environmental noise pollution by industrial-scale wind turbines. And, when government staff in the environment ministry offices did try to enforce Ontario noise regulations, they were rebuffed by corporate wind power operators.
The Wind Concerns Ontario report is a review of almost 700 noise complaints from people living inside 23 wind power facilities across Ontario. The total number of complaints records received by WCO now exceeds 5,200.
Response by the environment ministry was recorded in only 1.3 percent of the records in 2017; 54 percent of the files were marked “No” response by government staff.
Adverse health impacts were noted in staff notes and recorded comments by citizens calling in or emailing in 42 percent of the files, and 16 percent contained description of symptoms suggestive of exposure to low-frequency noise which is not audible but can cause harm.
The Wind Concerns Ontario report comes after a 17-month wait and several appeals to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner following the initial request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act. The noise complaints were made to the MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change during the pro-wind power Wynne government’s last full year in office.
Excerpts from the citizen complaints are included and provide a “litany of suffering” according to the WCO report.
“We find no peace … the assault is the same and at times greater in low wind speeds. [We have had] a thumping noise through our heads, long and steady, all day,” was one comment from someone living near the single turbine in Port Elgin, owned by the union Unifor.
“The noise has been bad for 24 hours,” said another resident, living inside the 140-turbine K2 Wind power facility. “I am exhausted from not sleeping.”
Another K2 Wind neighbour reported that the noise “drives a person insane when it goes on for hours…We are being impacted health-wise and are extremely agitated with the noise.”
“Unbearable … torture,” said another person. No response from the environment ministry was recorded on the file.
The corporate power operators are required by the terms of their Renewable Energy Approvals or REAs to act on these complaints, and to investigate the cause of complaints, take action, and ensure the complaints are not repeated. The Environmental Protection Act gives specific power to the environment ministry to take action.
In practice, however, Wind Concerns Ontario found in its review, the power operators were delinquent in filing audits to confirm compliance, and refused to take action when called upon by ministry staff. When the Owen Sound District Office, for example, demanded the operator of K2 Wind respond to noise complaints and implement noise mitigation until their (overdue) audit was filed, the company wrote back from its Texas headquarters with a refusal, stating “It is the Company’s view that the current circumstances do not objectively establish reasonable and probable grounds to require interim mitigation measures.” The operator, Pattern Energy, referred to its computer-generated predictive modeling for noise and said the modeling “is accurate.” In other words, our models say this can’t happen, therefore it isn’t.
The situation is unacceptable, Wind Concerns Ontario says.
“We’re recommending that the current Ontario government take action to enforce the regulations immediately,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It’s time to get rid of the outdated and non-protective protocol for measuring noise, stop letting the corporate power operators police their own operations, and re-invest and support our trained Environmental Officers—let them do the job they were supposed to do, and help the people of rural Ontario who have been forced to live next to these power generating machines.”
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the negative impacts of industrial-scale wind power development on the environment, the economy, and people’s health.
More wind turbines going up in Chatham-Kent; millions more to be added to Ontario electricity bills
October 7, 2019
Chatham-Kent residents living near Wheatley Ontario were surprised to see construction work last week, and delivery of components for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines.
The “Romney Wind Energy Centre” turbines are now being erected, with a projected commercial operation date early next year.
Romney was one of five LRP I (Large Renewable Procurement) projects that received contracts in 2016 under the Wynne government; three of those (Dutton-Dunwich, Otter Creek, and La Nation) were “cancelled” by the Ford government last year, but two were considered to be too far along in the process, having achieved “Key Development MIlestones” or KDMs as the IESO calls them, to be cancelled.
Romney will cost Ontario electricity customers more than $260 million over its 20-year contract. The maximum pre-construction liability for cancelling the project would have been around $500,000.
The project capacity is 60 megawatts of power, which Ontario does not need at present. Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, and wind power projects rarely achieve more than 30% of capacity. Developer EDF of France of France promised construction updates for the projects so residents can know when traffic will be disrupted, but the last update posted was for a single week in August.
The other project that escaped cancellation was “Nation Rise” in North Stormont in Eastern Ontario. The community there launched an appeal, which was dismissed and currently has a final appeal and a request for a Stay of Construction before the MInister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. That project will cost electricity customers more than $400 million, and posed significant environmental risks as presented in the appeal.
New information reveals audits of Ontario wind power projects still not complete after years in review
September 30, 2019
When the Ontario government under premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009, the premier promised that regulations for setbacks between the industrial-scale wind turbines and Ontario residents’ homes would be based on science, for health and safety.
“If you have concerns [about health and safety],” he said, “ we must find a way to address those.”
So, promises of protection were made to the people of rural Ontario, who were without recourse as their quiet communities were transformed into power generation facilities.
But there was little or no protection.
Information provided to Wind Concerns Ontario by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks shows that lengthy periods, sometimes years, elapsed between the submission, review and acceptance of technical reports required to confirm that turbines were safe. The majority are still either not complete or in review.
Meanwhile, citizen complaints of excessive noise, many with reports of adverse health effects linked to sleep disturbance, continue. Thousands of complaints have been registered with the government, most without resolution.
Regulations exist but checking for compliance involves comparing real noise measurements via “audits” (done by the wind power operators themselves, using acoustics contractors) against their own “modelled” or predicted noise levels.
According to the information provided by Eugene Macchione, Acting Director Client Services and Permissions Branch of the environment ministry in an email dated August 9 this year, of the 49 wind power projects listed in response to our request under Freedom of Information legislation:
16 are determined to be incomplete
15 are still in review
12 have demonstrated compliance with regulations
3 are not yet due
2 are non-compliant and in Noise Abatement plans, and
1 was never submitted.
These figures mean that, according to the environment ministry’s list, Conservation and Parks, almost 70 percent of the audits required to assure health and safety are either not complete as submitted, are in review, not compliant, or not submitted at all.
The list is not complete and is missing 11 post-Green Energy Act projects; more projects, at least 19, are also not listed.
WIND POWER PROJECT AUDIT STATUS AS OF JULY 30, 2019, FROM MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, CONSERVATION AND PARKS
Not only are the required audit reports not completed, the time elapsed between submission of the audits and conclusion of the government review is astonishing. The Conestogo wind power project began commercial operation on December 20, 2012, and is listed as still being “in review” as of July 30 for 2,058 days — that’s over five and a half years. According to noise report data provided to Wind Concerns Ontario via FOI, Conestogo has been the subject of dozens of noise complaints from nearby residents.
East Durham Wind Energy Centre began commercial operation in 2015, but after 1,087 days, it is now listed as incomplete; the project racked up almost 300 formal noise complaints in just a year and a half.
The Summerhaven power project has been operating since August 2013, and remains “in review” after more than 2,000 days, or 5.4 years.
The list provided by the ministry is not only incomplete, however, it is inaccurate: the K2 Wind power project, which is number three in Ontario for noise complaints as of 2016 (it started operation in 2015) is listed as “incomplete” when in fact, the project was found to be out of compliance with more than 80 of its 140 turbines not meeting the regulations. The project is currently under a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan.
Bluewater is one project that was determined to be “in compliance” (despite many noise complaints against it), but its audit report was in review for four years.
The single wind turbine owned by union Unifor is not named on the government list but was the subject of over 300 complaints by the end of 2016, with many more reported in the media. Meeting recently with environment minister Jeff Yurek, residents of Port Elgin told him that audits were never done for the turbine, in spite of hundreds of complaints, many with reports of adverse health effects. 
DAYS IN REVIEW: WIND TURBINE PROJECTS CURRENTLY DEEMED “INCOMPLETE” AS OF JULY 30, 2019
Source: Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, August 9, 2019
The new government seems to be actively demanding audits be done, and several Ontario projects are now under order to reduce noise, but a lot of people have been waiting a long time for these reviews, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
In April 2017, MPP Lisa Thompson asked a question in the Ontario Legislature regarding resolution of complaints about wind turbine noise emissions experienced by two families in her riding of Huron-Bruce. Then Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the Wynne government Glen Murray assured members of the Legislature that:
The … law works. There are standards. When people call, I’m very proud of the officials. They respond quickly and they enforce the law. The law is being enforced here. If wind turbines or any other type of technology exceeds sound levels, we enforce the law. … No one should have to suffer noise or noise pollution from any source, and certainly not wind turbines in their community.
“People were promised—and they are still being told by environment staff, every day—that the rules are there to protect them,” Wilson says. “But here’s the truth: the rules may be there but they’re not adequate, and they haven’t been enforced. The previous government appears to have been very protective of the wind power business.”
The Ministry has multiple options to force wind power operators to comply with regulations, including shutdown. (See Sections E1 and E3 of the Compliance Protocol). The project operators are required to post the submitted audits publicly, but there is a serious inconsistency in this. The Compliance Protocol on the ministry website appears to have been edited and is now contradictory. As of September 24, 2019, the protocol (with the apparent cut-and-paste errors) reads:
The Ministry will also require that all Acoustic Audit reportsSummary [sic] documents are also acceptable but upon request, the complete audit should be made available. be posted [sic] on the project website within 10 business days of the Acoustic Audit being submitted to the Director and District Manager. The Ministry expects the owner/operator to ensure that the Acoustic Audit reports, and any updates, remain available to the public on the project website for the life of the project.
The larger issue is the fact the Compliance Protocol is flawed: it is based on audible noise and does not take into account the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines. Low-frequency inaudible emissions are implicated in many adverse health effects, but were not included in the regulations which were themselves formulated with guidance from the wind power lobby.
“While the current government seems to be committed to enforcing the noise regulations for wind power generators, there is a long way to go before the people of rural Ontario are protected,” says Wilson.
NOTE: data on noise reports filed with the Government of Ontario are only available at present for 2006–2016; requests have been made for 2017 and 2018 data, but have not been fulfilled. WCO recently applied for a second appeal with the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Office for refusal to reply to the 2017 data request.
 Wind Concerns Ontario. Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints, 2nd report 2015-2016, February 2018.
 According to the Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise two kinds of audits are required as part of their Renewable Energy Approval, and to comply with Ontario regulations. They are: E-Audits to verify the validity of the sound power levels provided by manufacturers, and used in acoustic models to determine the noise impact of a wind facility at receptor locations; and I-Audits to verify the validity of predicted sound pressure levels in Acoustic Assessment Reports, and verify compliance with applicable sound level limits at receptor locations.
In 2018, MPP Monte McNaughton presented a bottle of brown well water to Chris Ballard, environment minister in the Wynne government, asking that something be done. Nothing was.On July 19, MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) announced that the Ontario government had struck a five-member panel of scientists to investigate whether there is a link between the vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation and the disturbance in more than 80 wells in Chatham-Kent. Mr. McNaughton made the announcement with fellow MPPs Rick Nicholls and Bob Bailey at a news conference.
The news release is as follows:
July 19, 2019
Ontario Conducting Health Hazard Investigation
Province Creates Independent Panel of Scientists to Investigate Water Wells, Fulfilling Commitment
Chatham Kent — Ontario’s government for the people has formed an expert independent panel to investigate well water in Chatham Kent, MPP McNaughton announced today.
The five-member independent panel will determine if the water from private wells in Chatham-Kent is safe for consumption.
“Our government made a promise to strike this panel,” said McNaughton. “Today we are fulfilling that promise.”
The five-member independent panel will consist of four experienced toxicologists and one local geologist. All members are independent from government and are experienced toxicology professionals that have served on advisory committees.
The panel is empowered to take a fresh look at new samples collected from certain water wells in Chatham-Kent where residents have raised questions about water quality. Samples from up to 189 private wells will be taken by a third-party business and tested by a commercial laboratory.
The announcement fulfills a government commitment.
“Barely one year after this promise was made, we are fulfilling it,” said McNaughton. “And we’re doing it in a way that will inspire confidence from the people of this community. People can trust the results this independent panel delivers.”
The five independent experts comprising the panel are:
Dr. Keith Benn, PhD – A local geologist and past professor of geology at University of Ottawa.
Dr. Glenn Ferguson, PhD, QPRA – An environmental health scientist with 25 years experience in toxicology, epidemiology, and human health risk assessment.
Dr. Shelley A. Harris, PhD – An epidemiologist and associate professor at University of Toronto who specializes in exposure measurement.
Dr. Ron Brecher, PhD – A specialist in toxicology, risk assessment and risk communication.
Mark Chappel, MSc, DABT – A toxicologist with significant experience in supervising and managing comprehensive toxicity studies.
“This is welcome news for the people of Chatham-Kent, who raised the effect of wind turbine construction on the water at appeal as a concern,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “That appeal was withdrawn because the proponent sprung a consulting report on the appeal and the Tribunal refused to allow the citizens time to examine it — they were left with no choice, and no chance for real presentation of the issues.”
Wilson, a registered nurse, said she hoped the independent panel of scientists will be free to examine water samples and review the experience of the families’ whose water wells have been affected.
“The response of some authorities, including the local Medical Officer of Health, is that the wells were not of good quality to begin with. That’s absurd and defies belief, when you have dozens of wells fail in a short time,” said Wilson.
Wilson added that the same consultants who claimed there would be no problems in North Kent, were also called upon to refute citizen concerns in North Stormont, where the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project is currently under construction. At appeal, citizens produced experts who said there were problematic turbine locations within the project; the province has designated the entire project area as a “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
Ontario rural residents caught on a ‘hamster wheel’ of emails and phone calls to government, and endless testing for wind turbine noise — but nothing ever gets done
February 18, 2019
One of the cost-cutting initiatives of the now eight-month-old Ontario government is the “Red Tape Reduction” plan, spearheaded by Government and Consumer Services Minister Todd Smith.
Last week, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to Minister Smith (who is also the MPP for Prince Edward County where citizens have been fighting wind power projects for over 10 years) to suggest that reviewing to wind turbine noise compliance protocol and actually enforcing Ontario’s noise regulations could go a long way to cutting “red tape.”
“The Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise is a costly and ineffective process,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in a letter that accompanied a box of printouts of noise complaints and Master Incident Report summaries that are government records collected since 2006. “Rather than requiring the project operators to address complaints to the satisfaction of local residents, the focus of enforcement has shifted to proving compliance with audible noise levels using this protocol. While the original Ministry compliance actions were focused on the actual complaints about the project, the new compliance process has no direct connection to the complaints registered with the Ministry about the turbine operations.”
“That is complex and costly for both the government and the power operators,” Wilson said.
This process is incredibly problematic, Wind Concerns Ontario asserts: staff time is being used to receive and respond to complaints coming in to the Ministry via its complaints tracking process (the Spills Action Centre and District Offices), staff is involved in liaising with wind power operators over the audit process, and now, an enormous backlog of long overdue audit reports is also being dealt with by staff. And meanwhile, complaints about the adverse effects created by wind turbine projects are not being resolved.
“This is the very definition of inefficiency,” Wilson said.
In one example provided to the MInister, a family in the Windsor area has been complaining about wind turbine noise and adverse health effects for more than eight years. According to documents received via Freedom of Information request, in one year the family had more than 50 interactions with government staff, staff with staff, and staff with the power operator. Ministry staff made two site visits with no action taken. Meanwhile, one member of the family visited the family’s doctor multiple times and underwent diagnostic testing including MRIs and acoustic testing, all of which place a burden on Ontario’s healthcare system.
“The fact is, the government and the power operators are relying on this protocol instead of listening to resident’s actual complaints, some of which clearly indicate the presence of other than audible noise. These complaints need to be addressed, the noise emissions need to stop, and the enormous cost to the people of Ontario can be identified,” said Wilson.