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Wind turbines ‘too big, too many, too close’

Keynote speaker Orville Walsh, chairman of the County Coalition for Safe, Appropriate Green Energy (CSAGE), discussed proposed locations of the wind projects in North Marysburgh, and around the County. "They're too big, there's too many and they're too close," he said as he launched his power point presentation. Sue Capon photo

More than 150 people packed the North Marysburgh Community Centre Saturday morning to learn about proposed industrial wind turbine projects, their effects on health, and on property values.
Keynote speaker Orville Walsh, chairman of the County Coalition for Safe, Appropriate Green Energy (CSAGE), discussed proposed locations of the wind projects in North Marysburgh, and around the County.
“They’re too big, there’s too many and they’re too close,” he said as he launched his power point presentation.
He expressed concern that wind companies no longer have to sell their projects, nor deal with communities as they have in the past, as the Green Energy Act has removed all local controls on wind energy development.
“Wind energy is permitted anywhere in the province – except Provincial Parks…Many municipalities are now standing up to the government…We’ve talked, we’ve played nice, but they’re not listening and that is why we now have to take it to the courts.”
CCSAGE is a cooperative venture of local citizens’ groups and business owners in Prince Edward County, formed to ensure that Ontario’s Green Energy Act does not harm County residents, the natural environment or the local economy.
Walsh said CCSAGE’s primary focus is on supporting the IWT Legal Challenge, which addresses the adverse human health effects of siting industrial wind turbines too close to residences.  Ontario’s regulations allow turbines to be 550 metres from a home, much closer than the suggested safe distance of 2 km.
County resident Ian Hanna has applied for a judicial review of sections of the Green Energy Act related to required setback distances of turbines from residences.  The objective is to convince the court to order a moratorium on government approval of all wind energy projects in Ontario where turbines would be sited close to residences, until proper epidemiological studies of safe setback distances are done.  The court date for the judicial review is September 30, 2010, with a decision expected before the end of 2010.
CCSAGE is leading the fundraising drive for the IWT Legal Challenge.  To date, County residents and others from across Ontario have contributed more than $150,000 toward the target of $250,000.
County realtors Gail Forcht and Elizabeth Crombie told the crowd at the North Marysburgh Hall of the new challenges the real estate industry faces in dealing with disclosures.
“People want reassurance their property will be worth something,” Forcht said. “We must let people know there may be potential for industrial wind turbines in their area, but we still don’t know for sure… Up until a couple of weeks ago, North Marysburgh wasn’t a target area. In other areas that are already targeted, people are saying ‘show me a property elsewhere’. Now there are some people who aren’t going to mind the windmills. We’ll need them.”
“There are not a lot of hard facts to work with right now,” said Crombie. “But now there are people who are saying they must take a pass on Prince Edward County. People looking to buy a house for an investment are being cautious.”
County resident Paula Greenwood owns 5th generation property on Wolfe Island. (Home to 86 large windmills owned and operated by Canadian Hydro Developers through its subsidiary Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation. It  became operational on June 29, 2009.)
“The turbines are jaw-dropping in size. They dwarf the island,” Greenwood said. “Time and compromise are the answers. Not long ago computers were the size of refrigerators and now they’re being out-performed by Blackberries. Cheque books and wallets are now a single debit card. In no time these turbines on Wolfe Island will compare to refrigerators…  We must compromise and use strategy to get renewable energy. With a little strategy turbines will be smaller and better balanced. You are in a great position of power. Use it wisely to come out looking more like the Blackberries of today.”
The County’s Dr. Robert McMurtry is a former dean of medicine at the University of  Western Ontario. He wants the province to conduct more studies into the health effects of wind turbines before launching additional projects.
“Green, clean reliable energy is their mantra, but it is a business plan… There is so much research that can be done. They have never done the health studies on humans.”
McMurtry noted 106 people who reported adverse health effects, saying the symptoms go away when they’re away from windmills.
“The wind people will say five per cent may be adversely affected. What gives them the right to put five per cent of the people in harm’s way? You must do the research before you go putting these in.”
In question and answer period, McMurtry said “Truth has a chance with legal action. We’ve tried all the routes with all levels of government. The best action is being unified behind a case such as the Hanna case.”


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