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Two sides have different take on CanWEAs wind turbine stance

by Chris Daponte

WELLINGTON CTY. - by Chris Daponte

WELLINGTON CTY. - Wind Concerns Ontario is calling it an about-face, but Canadian Wind Energy Association officials say their position has never changed on the possible health impacts of industrial wind turbines.

Late last week, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) issued a press release stating comments made by Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) president Robert Hornung during an Oct. 12 interview on Global Television  represent “a seismic shift” in CanWEA policy.

The release from WCO, a coalition of citizen’s groups generally opposed to industrial wind farms, quotes Hornung as stating “wind turbine sound … can have potentially indirect health impacts.”

WCO chairman Ian Hanna told the Advertiser that marks a “significant change” from CanWEA’s previous position that “there are no health threats from wind turbines.”

But Hornung said his comments in the Global interview were “taken out of context,” as he was discussing the annoyance reported by some people living near wind farms.

“We don’t think we’ve changed our position at all ... We’ve been quite consistent,” Hornung said.

He added there are well over 100,000 turbines operating worldwide and hundreds of thousands of people  living and working near and around them.

“We’re extremely confident the majority of those people have had positive and productive experiences,” Hornung said.

He also stressed CanWEA, a non-profit association that represents wind energy proponents, has always acknowledged a “very small percentage” of people can be annoyed by wind turbines.

Hornung said annoyance is a very personal experience and if it’s perceived to lead to illness of any sort, people should consult a physician.

Yet he said “there’s nothing unique about sound from turbines” and the fact remains there is no scientific proof directly connecting turbines and adverse health effects.

Hanna, on the other hand, said CanWEA should not hide behind the word “annoyance” because it is described by the World Health Organization and Health Canada as a legitimate health threat.

“It’s not a good direction for them to go, because then it just becomes a matter of semantics,” Hanna said. He added Hornung’s statement that a “majority” of people living near wind turbines don’t experience health problems is akin to saying that some people do.

“How many people can get sick before [CanWEA will agree that health studies are needed]?” Hanna asked. He seemed to refute his earlier statement calling Hornung’s comments a “seismic shift” when he called them instead a “subtle” but “clear” change.

“He said it; nobody made him say it,” Hanna said of Hornung’s comments.

However, Hornung reiterated CanWEA’s position has remained “quite consistent” and the organization will continue to monitor any scientific advancements on the issue.


October 21, 2011


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