Minister accused of ducking wind farm protesters

WOLFE ISLAND, ONTARIO - Opponents of new wind farms in Ontario are accusing Energy Minister George Smitherman of trying to duck protesters.

A group called Wind Concerns Ontario says Smitherman's office hasn't told anyone the energy minister will attend the grand opening of the Wolfe Island wind project near Kingston.

The anti-wind turbine activists say Smitherman is "deathly afraid" he'll face protests at Wolfe Island after he ran into about 50 protesters at a wind farm near Kincardine in April.

The government hasn’t made an announcement indicating that Smitherman and Environment Minister John Gerretson would be at the Wolfe Island event.

Press secretary Amy Tang says Smitherman hasn't avoided protests in the past and took time to talk with some of the wind farm opponents in Kincardine last spring.

Tang says the media can attend the Wolfe Island event, but would have to RSVP to Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., the company running the wind farm.

Wind Concerns Ontario says the industrial wind turbines pose a real health risk to people living nearby.

People living close to turbines have reported nausea, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, sleep deprivation and tinnitus – an incessant ringing in a person's ears – according to the group's website.

However, Queen's University researcher Neal Michelutti, who is studying the impact of the Wolfe Island wind farm, says there has been no substantive research so far linking those ailments to the presence of wind turbines.

The Ontario government has legislated a 550-metre setback for wind turbines, but the 86 machines on Wolfe Island that started operating in June are only 400 metres from people's homes.



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