Sunday, July 5, 2009

Huron County Federation is asking for wind turbine moratorium throughout Huron County

Susan Hundertmark, Sun Media

The Huron County Federation of Agriculture will be visiting municipalities throughout Huron County asking them to follow Huron East's lead by passing interim control bylaws on commercial wind energy projects within their borders.

HCFA directors discussed the current debate around wind turbine developments at their June meeting and passed two resolutions.

One was to request lower tier municipalities in Huron to enact a moratorium on commercial wind energy projects pending results of an epidemiological study conducted into the health impacts of the specific infrastructure on residents living near such developments.

The other was to support an epidemiological study conducted into the health impacts of the specific infrastructure of wind energy projects on residents living near such developments.

HCFA president Wayne Black says he'll be attending council meetings throughout Huron County to talk to councillors about their thoughts about wind projects.

He says asking municipalities to enact a moratorium is basically asking for an interim control bylaw, similar to the one Huron East recently passed.

"Huron East didn't influence us to pass the resolution but we are asking other municipalities to do the same thing Huron East did," he says.

Black, who lives about seven kilometres from the EPCOR wind project in Kingsbridge, says that while he has brushed off arguments against wind turbines in the past as "a lot of NIMBYism and fear mongering," he says recent health problems being experienced by farmers who live near wind turbines have him more concerned.

"People who are legitimately complaining live within one kilometre of the turbines. Outside that area, I haven't heard any legitimate complaints," he says.

Black says that with members who support and have signed leases for wind turbines and others who would never agree to a wind turbine lease, the HCFA has to be balanced about the issue.

He says that while he's been getting emails from Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT), a group of St. Columban residents who have been expressing concerns about two wind projects planned for the St. Columban area, he hasn't had any direct contact with members.

"The St. Columban situation was the straw that broke the camel's back. If there were no wind turbines going up in Huron County, this wouldn't be such a big deal with the Huron federation," he says.

"We need better regulations to protect farm families," says Black.

He says the farmer who presented the resolution said he didn't want his children asking him in the future why he didn't do something to influence the situation when he had the chance.

"It's not today when we'll see the immediate health problems but in 10-15 years when serious problems could crop up," says Black.

He adds that from the complaints received by the HFCA, it's farmers who live and work on their farms 24 hours a day who are most effected.

"The guys who work off-farm aren't affected as much. The guy who's there 24-7 - it gets to him," he says.

Black says that while the HFCA is not ready to approach the issue on a provincial level, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture at their June Board meeting, also supported a call from the Bruce Federation “urging County Federations, where they see it necessary, to seek a moratorium on wind energy projects with local governments pending results of an epidemiological study conducted into the health impacts of the specific infrastructure on residents living near such developments.”

In March, the Huron Federation sent a resolution to OFA regarding the study of potential health impacts of turbine developments.

“The follow-up review of literature done by OFA, as well as meeting with concerned members in Huron East, along with the request from Bruce Federation, resulted in our board supporting these two current motions” adds Black in a press release about the resolutions.

As well, Black says the HFCA is planning to make a submission to the province as Green Energy Act regulations are determined.