Posts Tagged ‘Queen’s Park’

Doctor calls for health study

February 2, 2009

Doctor calls for health studies on windmill farms

By JOHN MINER, SUN MEDIA

When London surgeon Robert McMurtry decided to build a house, he wanted to go green — geothermal heating, solar panels for hot water and a wind turbine for electricity.

But when he started reading about wind turbines, the former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario said he had a change of heart.

“I thought, ‘Holy Toledo, there are some issues here.’ ”

Dozens of wind turbines have already been built or proposed in Southwestern Ontario, as Queen’s Park tries to wean Ontario off dirty coal-fired electricity plants and reduce its reliance on nuclear power.

McMurtry is calling for health studies into the wind turbine farms popping up across Ontario with backing by the provincial government. With towers nearly 100 metres tall, and blades half that long, the turbines can be an imposing sight, even from afar.


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“At minimum, they should be doing a survey of people around wind farms and getting a sense of how many people are complaining of problems,” he said.

“If there is enough evidence, they should mount a formal epidemiological study,” McMurtry said.

In the U.S. and Western Europe especially, where wind farms are more advanced than in Canada, complaints abound about the low-frequency sound the giant windmills generate.

In Canada, Ontario is one of the only provinces with any regulations governing wind farms, requiring a noise-impact assessment for areas up to 1,000 metres from the wind turbine.

McMurtry is concerned about the health complaints he’s heard from people living near wind farms, including sleep disturbance from the noise of the giant turbine blades.

“Once you have sleep disturbance for a few days, you aren’t going to be feeling well,” he said.

Last week, the province announced it’s backing six new wind farm projects, including three in Chatham-Kent, that are expected to create 558 jobs.

Total investment in the new farms is expected to reach $1.32 billion.

McMurtry, who has taken his concerns to Ontario Energy Minister George Smitherman, said it’s going to be an uphill battle to convince people to look hard at the health implications because turbines have become closely associated with green energy.

“It has got an iconic, symbolic status that really carries a lot of weight and there is a very powerful, worldwide lobby group behind it,” he said.

McMurtry said turbines smaller than the ones being installed may be better than the monsters now going up.

“Harness the wind safely. Let’s look at other alternatives. There are better, smarter options,” he added.

Monica Elmes, of the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, an organization opposed to the wind farms, said the turbines will be an unreliable, intermittent source of electricity and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“All Ontario residents are truly the losers in this scam,” Elmes said in an e-mail.

For the latest local coverage, read The London Free Press on the web or in print.

Video of the Ripley wind farm

Green energy plan could wither in court: native bands

January 18, 2008

Two native bands are threatening to tie up the Ontario government’s long-range power plans using lengthy court delays.

In a submission to the Ontario Energy Board, people from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territories argued the province has not lived up to its legal requirement to consult with them on the plan’s impact.

The lawyer for the two communities, near Wiarton on the Bruce Peninsula, spoke earlier this week at board hearings into the Ontario Power Authority’s proposal for new energy sources.

Arthur Pape reminded board members of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that Queen’s Park has a legal duty to consult with First Nations on the impact the power plan will have on their lives.

“There’s no way the Saugeen Ojibway could participate meaningfully with government to ensure that this part of the plan could be implemented in a way that protects their rights,” Pape told the board.

Pape says there’s still time to negotiate compensation that may be owed to First Nations for the impact of new wind farms, hydro dams and transmission lines on their hunting and fishing rights and way of life.

But he warned that if the government fails to negotiate, it could mean lengthy delays in getting the plan approved.

“If the government won’t work with them to find a way to accommodate those things, they may find themselves applying to the courts, and asking for the courts to not let this plan be implemented,” he told CBC News.

Neither the government, nor the Ontario Power Authority, which drew up the plan, would comment on Pape’s submissions.

The OPA’s new plan, which calls for the provincial government to spend $26.5 billion on nuclear power plants, still requires regulatory approval.

The plan also proposes doubling the amount of renewable energy on the grid by 2025 and phasing out coal-fired generation by the end of 2014.

Several energy providers are considering building more wind farms on the Bruce Peninsula to bring power to the south of the province.

Much of that energy will require new transmission lines to be built.