Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kawartha Region:Health unit wants stronger municipal voice for wind turbine projects

(KAWARTHA LAKES ) A motion passed by the local health unit on Thursday (June 20) hopes to see municipalities and community members have more of a say when it comes to the process of where industrial wind turbine projects would be located.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit board is also calling for greater municipal and community input into a recently announced review process of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. The review is expected to be completed in mid-October and will consider all aspects of Ontario’s electricity system – conservation, generation, transmission, distribution and emerging technologies such as energy storage.
As well, the board has requested that community members, especially those living in the vicinity of proposed wind turbine projects, be given the opportunity to provide input on the projects. The board would also continue to work with the Ministry of Environment to ensure that companies proposing projects comply with all the rules and regulations around the locations of wind turbines, including the increased set-backs that apply to the cumulative number of turbines in a proposed area.
The motion came about after the board decided to merge a resolution put forward by board member and Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble, requesting the board support a moratorium on wind turbine projects and one drafted by Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lynn Noseworthy.
Dr. Noseworthy believes that, while there is still insufficient evidence regarding adverse health effects related to wind turbines, there is no doubt that some people are “annoyed by them,” including noise, visibility, remuneration relating to those who agree to have them on their property and the lack of meaningful input into their location.
Dr. Noseworthy told This Week, “the resolution is timely as it feeds into” the reviews and processes currently undertaken by the Ministry of Energy.
The Ministry recently announced that it will be working with the Ontario Power Authority and municipalities to develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kilowatts that will require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify locations and site requirements.
As well, the new process will be increasing local control in renewable energy development and that it will work with municipalities to focus on conservation and helping to identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.
While many municipalities have passed motions about the health issues caused by wind turbines, Dr. Noseworthy believes the board’s resolution takes a unique stance, placing greater emphasis on the issue of siting and the input needed for that process.
“We hope it will make for a better process in the long run,” added Dr. Noseworthy. “I think this will carry a lot more weight and will be well-received provincially by helping to pave the way to move forward.”