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Council hears from wind turbine proponent, offers argument

by David Meyer

MAPLETON TWP. - Council here gave a polite listen to a presentation from the Sierra Club about the good that can come from wind turbines.

Executive director of the club John Bennett, of the Ottawa area, said it is the largest envrionmental club in Canada. It learned Mapleton is questioning parts of the provincial Green Energy Act and wind power.

He is advocating for renewable energy because climate change has started. He cited record temperature changes and major storms as a demonstration of that.

He said tornados “will get worse and worse” and the Ontario Green Energy Act is the only legislation in Canada to address climate change. He said if other places do not use such measures it will hasten climate change.

He said in Germany 300,000 workers are in the wind energy business, and it is “one of the only growing industries left in Europe.”

Bennett said the Sierra Club has looked into renewable energy and wind turbines and done studies over 20 years.

“There’s nothing in the science” he said, that indicates there will be health problems “provided there are proper setbacks and they are run and operated properly.” He urged council to “look at the facts before we make up our minds.”

Bennett said cars and buildings kill more birds than turbines do, and agreed “there are some places where wind turbines are not appropriate.”

He urged council to “do it in a way that respects people’s rights.”

Bennett said he once lived in a place that offered a beautiful view of a hill. It turned out to be a drumlin, and a gravel company began mining it.

“No municipality has called for a moratorium on gravel pits,” he said.

Councillors asked why the Sierra Club was coming to the township. Councillor Andy Knetsch asked if it receives grants or financial support from governments or big businesses.

Bennett said the club gets “the occasional grant” from government, but there was “no funding from any source to support our decision” to support wind energy.

Knetsch asked about wind turbines and low frequency emissions.

Bennett said there is no science that “shows low frequency is a big problem. It depends on the location,” and Ontario setbacks are “among the biggest in the world.”

Councillor Jim Curry was recently in Holland. He said, turbines there are set away from populated areas. “There are no complaints, probably because of setbacks,” which he said are 1.5km.

He said New Zealand has a moratorium on wind turbines “because of health effects. I do agree green energy is great. But putting them close to residences is not the proper place.”

Bennett said there is “no science there to back” Curry’s assertions on health problems.

“Lots of people complain, but we don’t have any evidence.”

Curry said the township is dealing with a turbine proposal by NextEra Energy, and he asked if it evr shut down because of noise, and it had.

Bennett replied, “If there was a problem with the turbine, it should be shut down.”

Curry said, “We need to get the setbacks at world standards. Unfortunately, the Green Energy Act does not do that.”

Councillor Neil Driscoll asked if the club has members from the area. Bennett said it has 1,500 in western Ontario.

Driscoll said he knows nothing of Bennett’s area in Ottawa, and “neither do you know anything about this area.”

Bennett once lived in Seymore, “similar to Mapleton.”



September 23, 2011


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