Wind farm opponents will have their say

ALNWICK/HALDIMAND TOWNSHIP - A citizens group opposing development of a wind farm in Alnwick/Haldimand Township has asked the environment ministry for an extension of the public consultation period on proposed provincial regulations on wind turbines, and has been granted the chance to comment.

That's important to the group because proposed distances to residences are not sufficient, nor are the maximum noise levels, spokesperson Tova White contends.

The proposed standards are "insufficient for a country this size," White told Northumberland Today.

"It was no accident" the public meeting held in Grafton about Energy Farming Ontario's proposed area wind farm came the day after the provincial comment period ended, she said. Energy Farming Ontario didn't want the public to comment on this specific proposal, White alleged.

Energy Farm Ontario, meanwhile, is continuing its environmental screening process to submit its report on its Grafton-area wind farm proposal to the energy ministry within a couple of months, says company spokesperson and director Kelly Campbell.

This includes studies on such topics as bird migration and wind data.

Following a 30-day public consultation period the company will address issues raised, she said. The ministry takes about three months to make a decision, Campbell added.

Before that, however, Energy Farm Ontario plans to e-mail or send letters to area stakeholders, those who attended the Grafton public meeting and other interested parties, addressing their concerns, outlining the process and providing overall information on wind energy, Campbell said.

Two other public meetings were recently held in the Keene and Orono areas and those areas are going through the same process, she said.

Residents could also check out wind farms first-hand, and some tours might be organized like the one to the wind farm on Wolfe Island project developer Brian Crosby initiated with a local couple who were skeptical about the noise the turbines generate.

"But nothing is specifically planned," Campbell added.

At this point the group of about 50 people with concerns about the Grafton-area wind farm proposal are sharing these concerns electronically, White said. Letters are being copied to provincial Energy Minister George Smitherman and Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi, she added.

Concerns raised by area residents over wind turbine farms include adverse health effects, inefficiency, noise and esthetics. Some of these are mirrored in a study undertaken by Nia Pierpont titled Wind Turbine Syndrome.

"I've been overwhelmed by the people interested in either being actively involved or on an information list," White said.

Some live outside the township and elsewhere in the county, she said.

Ann Barlow lives in the area and is opposed to any wind farm being located on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

"My family has had land here for about 45 years," she states in an e-mail. "We are restricted in many ways but understand the importance of the moraine. The placement of wind turbines here is completely unsuitable and contradicts the spirit of the conservational act."

Alnwick/Haldimand Mayor Bill Finley says he has not fielded a lot of telephone calls about last week's open house, which he also attended. He lives outside the study area that lay between Centreton Road (County Road 22) in the north, Telephone Road in the south, generally west of County Road 23, Boyle and Shelter Valley roads and east of a line in the area of Wilson Line, Scott and Massey roads.

Energy Farm Ontario is putting in place options to lease properties within the study areas. One of those property owners declined to comment to this newspaper on the arrangements with the company, and the company said that, due to privacy issues, it would not identify specific owners.

People realize the municipality doesn't have jurisdiction because the province took this over with the Green Energy Act, Finley said.

The township has its own bylaw regulating wind turbines and windmills but whether this regulates individual wind turbines as opposed to wind farms is still being investigated, he said.


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