Esther Wrightman and her family moving after losing wind turbine battle

May 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

“I feel like a bloody rag doll after this. I want to be happy again,” the Middlesex County woman, who’s uprooting for the Maritimes, said.

With construction of the first of three wind farms in her area now well underway, Wrightman’s family is selling their properties and moving their nursery business to New Brunswick, a home they hope will never have an industrial wind farm.

Few activists personified the fight against wind energy farms in Southwestern Ontario like Wrightman. She leapt to prominence when her township mayor called in the OPP to stop her from video-taping council meetings she’d post on YouTube.

Wrightman’s attacks prompted wind energy giant NextEra to file a lawsuit against her, claiming she’d made false and misleading statements against the company and had unfairly attacked its trademark.

NextEra promised to donate any damages it wins from Wrightman to United Way.

Wrightman, in her statement of defence, countered NextEra had discredited its own business in how it dealt with the public. The lawsuit has yet to be heard in court.

Thursday, she sounded tired as she outlined why she’s moving and starting over.

“At some point you have to say your kids need a life that involves more than going to protests every weekend. It will be a good change,” she said.

Wrightman said the main motivation for moving is health concerns for her family. The real impact of the turbines — which have spread across much of Southwestern Ontario, deeply polarizing to many — won’t be fully known for years and she’s not prepared to wait, Wrightman said.

Fellow anti-wind turbine activist Muriel Allingham, who lives near the Bornish Wind Energy Centre in Middlesex County, said Wrightman put her heart and soul into the fight to protect her community.

“She was relentless and she was dedicated. She fought for her democratic rights and the democratic rights of her community. She opened people’s eyes to the facts about wind development and the green energy act,” Allingham said.

The Kerwood-area farm where Wrightman grew up has already sold and the nearby house where she lives is for sale. Her father has an offer on a farm in New Brunswick where they hope to relocate Wrightman Alpines, a rock garden plants nursery.

Wrightman expects to move east in about two months.

A mother of two, Wrightman was often the face of opposition to wind farms planned by NextEra, taking part in demonstrations and challenging her Adelaide Metcalfe township council for giving its blessing to the projects.

After a public outcry over the police being called in on her, council relented and allowed her video-taping to continue.

Wrightman said there are no wind farms planned for the area of New Brunswick where she’s headed and it’s close to the U.S. border, making it easy for the family business to service its American customers.

Looking back, Wrightman said her advice to other wind-turbine opponents is to fight hard if a project isn’t approved yet by the Ontario Power Authority.

If Ontarians elect a new government, it’s unlikely more projects will be approved. But with an OPA green light, it’s almost impossible to stop them, she said.

As for NextEra’s lawsuit against her, Wrightman said she’s heard nothing in months.

“They’ve got their turbines, isn’t that enough?”​​

A NextEra spokesperson said there’s been no change in the status of its lawsuit against Wrightman.

john.miner@sunmedia.ca

 

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