A coalition of groups and individuals concerned about the proliferation of industrial wind turbines is calling on the province to halt the approval process for new projects and develop and enforce new, tougher noise standards.
In a media release issued today (May 31) Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) claimed the Kathleen Wynne government has failed to respond to thousands of wind turbine noise complaints.
And locally, a spokesperson for ratepayers opposed to proceeding with a wind turbine project in Dutton/Dunwich said it’s further proof the province is “kowtowing to . . . their corporate buddies.”
Documents obtained by WCO from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change through a Freedom of Information request “show a deeply flawed process for responding to complaints of excessive noise levels from industrial-scale wind turbines,” WCO notes in the release.
According to WCO, the documents show “almost 3,200 reports of noise complaints were made in 2006-2014. In more than half, the government took no action.”
“When Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, he promised the people of rural Ontario to address concerns about health and safety from the turbines,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said.
“But they already had multiple complaints about wind turbine noise from 2006 onward, and they were unable and even unwilling to deal with them. This is failure of a government to protect people.
“Their goal appears to be protecting the interests of power development corporations instead.”
Invenergy’s James Murphy, centre, and Dutton Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam, right, at a public open house held in March of this year.
Complainants called the ministry hotline to report sleep disturbance, headaches, and dizziness from the wind turbine noise emissions. Some reported not having slept for days, even weeks at a time, according to WCO, which added the reports show ministry staff had no protocols or guidelines to deal with noise complaints and high-level directives blocked staff from responding. Staff was told to rely on computer noise models provided by power developers instead of actual noise measurement.
In light of the information contained in the documents obtained by WCO, Dutton/Dutton Opponents of Wind Turbines (DDOWT) has written Environment Minister Glen Murray demanding he halt all approvals to new wind power projects, including the Invenergy project slated for the municipality.
The Strong Breeze Wind Project would see construction of 16 to 20 wind turbines capable of generating over 57 megawatts of green energy, in spite of the fact 84% of residents surveyed do not support the undertaking.
“We expect that at a minimum, more than 450 people in Dutton Dunwich, including young children and seniors, will be exposed to the noise produced by these industrial power-generating machines, ” advised DDOWT spokesperson Dave Congdon in a release, “and who may experience disturbed sleep and other symptoms. This is totally unacceptable.”
“Dutton Dunwich is near Chatham-Kent, where citizens have been forced to live near hundreds of wind turbines,” added Dutton/Dunwich farmer and DDOWT spokesperson Jamie Littlejohn.
“We have heard from many of our neighbours there. They confirm that when they phone in noise complaints to the MOECC spills line, they get very little, if any, assistance.”
Congdon was optimistic the new information released by WCO “will open some more eyes of people around the province as to the danger of these things. As of right now, they (the province) don’t really seem to care these are affecting people’s health. We’re hoping now these reports are coming to light, somebody is going to have to listen.”
Congdon noted DDOWT is now attempting to obtain specific information about the Strong Breeze Wind Project from Invenergy.
“Everything they released to us is not the information we requested. It’s been a very big struggle in terms of getting any information about how they got their numbers and how they got their approvals. Unfortunately the government listens to the corporate dollars and not the taxpayers because the taxpayers in Dutton/Dunwich do not want them.”
He pointed out much of the information requested from Invenergy is redacted.
“You request it again and it has to go through the whole formal process and at our expense.”
Darryl Chrisjohn from Oneida Settlement and Dutton/Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam
At a public forum in March of this year, Dutton/Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam said the turnout over two days “shows the interest in this project as far as the opposition to it. It speaks to what we’ve been trying to say to the ministry, we don’t need this energy and the cost to society. And over the last year, people have finally woke up to their hydro bills and what we’ve warned the government about, it’s unaffordable.”
At that forum James Murphy, Invenergy vice-president of business development, conceded “Power plant projects are not always the most popular projects and there are a host of concerns that arise with them. I think they are all valid concerns. We try to listen and do the best we can to address them. We can’t guarantee everyone is going to come away entirely satisfied, but we’ve done everything we possibly can to try to accommodate them.”
Congdon stressed the turbines proposed for Dutton/Dunwich will soar to a height of 650 feet.
“They will be the largest ever put up in Ontario. And we’re putting up turbines in the province that we don’t need anymore. We’re spending millions every year to get rid of hydro we don’t even use. Why are we subjecting our residents to health effects now that are proven. Now the studies are out, why are we doing this?”
Congdon said it’s further proof “the Liberal government is kowtowing to their Liberal friends and corporate buddies who are funding their campaigns.”
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: City Scope