Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Industrial Wind Turbines and Homes Don’t Mix

Industrial Wind Turbines and Homes Don’t Mix

Letter to the Millbrook Times from Marion Thompson, Millbrook

Most people in the Township will have seen the signs that say Industrial Wind Turbines and Homes Don’t Mix. The proposed project (Whispering Woods) in the Millbrook area is to consist of 5 Industrial Wind Turbines that will be located in very close proximity to more than 70 homes.

The industrial, and they are industrial, wind turbines will stand 479 feet tall. We never, in our wildest dreams, imagined 48 storey structures in our country back yards, with the spinning blades casting strobe-like shadows over our land and homes as the sun moves from east to west.

The Ministry of the Environment through the Green Energy Act has established, based solely on computer modeling, 40 decibels as an acceptable noise level and based on that noise level, a setback distance of 550 metres from a residential structure. However in a memo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act the Ministry’s own field experts concluded the acceptable noise limit should be reduced to 35 decibels and set back distances should be calculated using a sound level limit of 30-32dBA. A German manufacturer of wind turbines states on its website: “Buildings, particularly housing, should not be nearer than 2 km to the windfarm.” We live east of Millbrook and we can hear the announcements, music, truck and tractor pulls from the Millbrook Fair which is some 2-3 kilometers away. We can also hear the car races at Kawartha Downs booming from 9 kms away.

This noise ends when the fair and the races finish but the noise from Industrial Wind Turbines will continue 24/7, 365 days a year for the next 20 years.

We now find out through another memo from the MOE that the Ministry has no methodology for on site measurement of the noise emissions produced by the wind turbines and especially from noise created by multiple ones in close proximity. “As such there is no way for the Ministry of Environment field staff to confirm compliance or lack thereof with the noise levels set in approvals” states a senior MOE staff official. Incredibly, the Minister of the Environment and MOE officials continue to approve new wind farms and dismiss serious noise and health complaints from residents living near wind turbines.

We all know from the Millbrook water crisis, that water is a precious commodity. The proposed site for the Whispering Woods wind farm contains many springs, creeks, ponds and shallow ground water; some, undocumented by conservation authorities. The construction of monstrous concrete bases plus access roads required to service the turbines presents the potential of harmful interference with the water supply all of the families rely on; in the case of area farmers their livestock as well.

Some say Industrial Wind Turbines have been in Europe for many years without any problems. Why then are there now some 410 federations and associations from 21 European countries united against the deployment of wind farms, charging it is “degrading the quality of life.” The European Platform Against Wind Farms is demanding a moratorium suspending all wind farm projects and a “complete assessment of the economic, social, and environmental aspects of wind farms in Europe.” A petition for a moratorium has been sent to the European Commission and Parliament.

One of the consultants, a freelance writer who is also project manager for several local wind projects posted in one of her “blogs”

A third party is needed: a group that stands to benefit in no way from the construction of any particular wind project yet that can access, translate and communicate scientific and academic findings to multiple audiences. It would put the NIMBYs and the YIMBYs on equal footing, allowing the benefits or drawbacks of a given wind development to be debated sensibly.

Until such time as an independent epidemiological health study and independent environmental assessments on the cumulative impact of 1000s of wind turbines proposed to blanket Ontario is completed, there must be a moratorium on all industrial wind development in the Province.

Marion Thompson