Community members urged to fight local wind energy projects

February 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

(NORWOOD) Prior to 2009, Barb Ashbee and her husband didn’t have any objections to wind turbines.
After 133 wind towers went up near their home, northwest of Toronto, Ms Ashbee says she and her husband started experienced stomach aches, ringing in their ears, heart palpitations and cognitive and memory problems. Both started to suffer headaches of varying degrees, presumably caused by the constant noise made by the turbines and the resulting vibrations they could feel throughout their home.
Ms Ashbee was one of several people who spoke about various health complications which could arise as a result of industrial wind turbines at a community information session in at the Norwood Townhall on Feb. 13.
More than 60 people came out to the meeting to learn more about the possible health implications of living near wind turbines, which could pop up in the area in 2014. Zero Emission People, who currently have eight wind farm projects operating or in the works, are planning to build “Wind Farm Collie Hill,” which will consist of three wind turbines on County Road 2 between Hastings and Keene. The towers will be at least 100 metres (more than 30 stories) high.
Ms Ashbee says she and her husband could hear and feel vibrations from the turbines in their home.
“Some days were worse than others,” she says, adding her pets were also distraught by the low-frequency noise. “Our dog would sit in the middle of the living room and whine.”
As time passed, and the couple continued to experience sleepless nights, Ms Ashbee says social functions became difficult and she often had trouble putting sentences together as a result of her fatigue.
The couple was one of a handful of homeowners to sell their homes to a utility company, and since they’ve moved, she says their health has improved dramatically.
Carmen Krogh, a retired pharmacist who advocates against putting industrial wind turbines near homes, also spoke to community members about the issue. According to Ms Krogh, who co-authored a case study on the potentially harmful effects wind turbines can have on health, there are a number of physiological, psychological, and adverse social economic impacts reported by those who’ve lived near wind turbines. Sleep disturbance, vertigo and dizziness, and stress related to the turbines are all important to take into consideration, she says.
“This low-frequency noise, people will do anything to get away from it,” she says, adding she knows of people who’ve slept in garages, basements and vehicles in an attempt to escape the whooshing noises and vibrations at night. “It sounds dramatic, but it happens.”
Lowered property values are also a major stress for people living near windfarms, according to Ms Krogh, who says recent assessments show homeowners can lose 23 to 58 per cent of their property value.
Currently, the Province mandates all new wind turbines must go up no more than less than 550 metres from homes.
According to Ontario Wind Resistance, an advocacy group against industrial wind farms going up near homes, the Province’s guidelines are relatively low compared to other areas of Canada and the U.S. including Halifax, which requires a setback of 1,000 metres from any habitable building and Saskatchewan, which requires a 700-metre setback.
Ms Krogh is suggesting community members fight for a moratorium on the building of wind turbines until all health implications are further researched.
Back in September 2010, Asphodel-Norwood Township Council passed a resolution to declare a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines. The resolution also stated that any application to construct wind turbines must appear before council for consideration.
However, the resolution can’t stop Zero Emission People from building a wind farm. When the Green Energy Act passed in 2009, municipalities lost some control over the development of wind farms.
According to the act, “A person is permitted to engage in activities with respect to a designated renewable energy project . . .despite any restriction imposed at law that would otherwise prevent or restrict the activity, including a restriction established by municipal by-law.”
A petition was available for community members to sign at the meeting.

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