Election Results and Impact on Local Wind Projects

 

Heather Stauble

A message from City of Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble:

Last night’s election did result in a clear majority for the Liberals. This is to answer those wondering about the impact this will have on the proposed wind projects in this area.

LOCAL WIND PROJECTS
The Ministry of the Environment is going to continue with the process that is in place and that means the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) continues.

The Sumac Ridge ERT is still a landmark case and important in many ways, particularly in light of its location on the ORM, the proximity to the Peterborough Airport, the Seneca College Flight School, the Buddhist Temples, First Nations, 40 requests for status at the ERT, 2874 EBR comments, thousands of independent emails to Ministers and the Ministry of the Environment…. All good reasons to overturn an Approval.

Over the past few months, work has continued on the part of volunteers to prepare for the ERT. Awareness amongst environmental partners has increased and concerns about the approval process continues to grow.

Settlers Landing and Snowy Ridge projects have not yet been deemed “complete” by the Ministry of the Environment or posted for comment and we will have to see what happens over the next little while.

One positive outcome of the election is the acknowledgment by all parties that the FIT program as it existed when these developers applied, was not handled well and the program going forward has been changed. The Liberals described it as “Sunsetting” the old FIT program and the NDP stated that the implementation was flawed.

The location of these proposed wind projects continue to be a concern. The projects should adhere to other environmental legislation and all large-scale energy projects should be subject to full individual environmental assessments with well-defined terms of reference that consider the environmental, economic and social/health impacts.

The newly elected Premier made a point of saying she was the Premier for the whole province. She recognized that there were many people who had worked hard and the outcome was not what they had hoped for. This included many people who have spent a great deal of time and effort opposing wind projects in their area. Areas outside of the GTA continue to be largely conservative and suggest that there are still unresolved issues. Wind is one of them.

There is the opportunity to clean up some of the mess that resulted from the implementation of the Green Energy Act regulations. This is the time to pause and reconsider, not rush ahead.

The Province can for instance immediately direct the MOE and OPA to stop granting extensions. They should insist that the MOE enforce the regulations. This would include requiring increased setbacks where there are other proposed wind projects in an area; stop allowing reduced setbacks to homes, hydrological and natural heritage features. Stop allowing the Ministry of the Environment to issue an Approval without Hydrogeological Reports, Stormwater Management Plans, Spills Management Plans, Watershed Plans or Permits to Take Water.

Most importantly, they need to stop quibbling about whether the reported lack of sleep and adverse health effects that are consistently being reported on are due to direct or indirect effects from industrial wind turbines.

The fact is that there is a growing body of evidence, including the recent Report by Dr. Ian Arra and Dr. Hazel Lynn, MOH, Grey Bruce which concluded:

“demonstrated the presence of reasonable evidence (Level Four and Five) that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans. The existence of a dose-response relationship (between distance from wind turbines and distress) and the consistency of association across studies found in the scientific literature argues for the credibility of this association.”

 

Arra I, Lynn H, Barker K, et al. (2014-05-23 11:51:41 UTC) Systematic Review 2013: Association Between Wind Turbines and Human Distress. Cureus 6(5): e183. doi:10.7759/cureus.183
http://www.cureus.com/articles/2457-systematic-review-2013-association-between-wind-turbines-and-human-distress#.U5shlRBckmQ

and the Province’s own Research Chair, which looked at over 400 reports, found among its results:

“The relationship between ln(distance) (as a continuous variable) and mean Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was found to be statistically significant.”

Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep Quality, and Symptoms of Inner Ear Problems: Paller C, Bigelow P, Majow S, Law J, Christidis T, School of Public Health and Health Systems, School of Planning, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1 (attached)

A setback of 2km or more should be adopted to reflect the increased size of the newer models of Industrial Wind Turbines.

A low-frequency noise test must be developed, peer-reviewed and in place before any more approvals are issued.

Full individual environmental assessments should be required for large-scale renewable energy projects.

The Mandate of the Environmental Review Tribunal for Renewable Energy projects needs to be changed to allow for broader objection and a precautionary approach should be adopted. The ERT process for REA projects is much more restrictive than the process in place for other types of Tribunals and it needs to change or be replaced.

The reasons for objecting to the Sumac Ridge, Settlers Landing and Snowy Ridge wind projects, including their proximity to schools, daycare, homes, location on the Oak Ridges Moraine, near airports, conflicting with large economic development projects, continue to be important reasons to deny or overturn an approval no matter who formed the Government.

Heather Stauble

Councillor
Ward 16
City of Kawartha Lakes

 

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