Wind protesters stand their ground near Watford

By Cathy Dobson The Observer Feb 7th 2012 

BROOKE-ALVINSTON — About 40 protesters rallied along a muddy rural road Tuesday where four wind turbines are under construction in an open farm field.

“This is our community, this is our home. We will push it as far as we can push it,” said organizer Marcelle Brooks, holding a sign saying “McGuinty is not listening.”

“If that means we will be standing in front of a bulldozer, that’s where we’ll be,” she said.

Members of the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group (WAG) staged the protest to demonstrate against the $22-million, 10-MW project near Watford on Ebenezer Road and Churchill Line.

WAG has been a vocal opponent during the entire planning process and has appealed the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s approval of the project known as the Zephyr Wind Farm. A hearing is set for Feb. 21 in Alvinston.

“It’s an atrocity,” said Jill MacInnis, who lives about two kilometres west of the site.

She is concerned about the wind farm’s effects on human health, as well as its impact on birds and animals.

“This is a pre-staging ground for 300 to 400 tundra swans that come every year, and six different hawk species and bald eagles,” said MacInnis.

The 53-year-old said it was the first protest she’d ever joined.

“That’s how concerned I am. It’s stressful to think of the brutality.”

Several protesters came from other areas of Lambton County where wind farms are either built or in the planning stages.

“I’m here because I’m sensitive to noise,” said Lee Buckton of Sarnia. She has purchased 15 acres near Thedford in North Lambton and said a wind project is slated nearby.

“We want to go to the country to retire and get away from the noise and these turbines are very noisy,” she said.

Lambton OPP warned the protesters not to block traffic on Ebenezer Road but didn’t make any arrests.

Dump trucks and flatbeds stopped or moved slowly in and out of the Zephyr Farm site when a couple of dozen people stood in the middle of the road, but traffic got through after delays of 10 to 15 minutes.

“We support their right to their opinion,” said Brent Hull, vice-president with Mississauga-based Green Breeze Energy, which is building the turbines.

“Our primary concern is the safety of local residents,” Hull said. ”That’s why I told the truck drivers to be patient. If they have to wait a couple of hours, that’s OK.”

Hull said Zephyr Farms’ four turbines is the only project the company currently has in Ontario.

Fears that human health problems are connected to windfarms are unfounded, Hull said.

“Wind turbines are relatively new to Ontario in the last seven years but they’ve been up and running in Europe for 30 years,” he said.

“There are no documented cases of human health effects.”

He said he believes complaints of headaches and insomnia are a result of the stress that adjacent neighbours bring on themselves.

“When you’re worried and upset about things, we’ve all had sleepless nights and it feeds on itself,” Hull said.

Prior to site selection, extensive studies were made on the migratory patterns of birds in the Zephyr Farm region,” he added.

The migratory path is several kilometres away from the site, Hull said.

Brooks said she believes groups like WAG are already making a difference and will continue to fight windfarm technology.

“In any rural community in Ontario, opposition is very strong to wind turbines,” she said.

“All of rural Ontario voted PC in the last election specifically because of wind projects,” Brooks said. “We’ve put McGuinty on notice.”

cdobson@theobserver.ca

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Posted on February 7, 2012, in Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Green Breeze, Health, Sarnia Observer, Schneider Power, Take Action, Zephyr ERT, Zephyr Project. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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