Category Archives: Health
Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Darryl De Groot says it’s gotten to the point that farmers have stopped waving to each other on Northville Road. And that’s just one impact the dairy farmer sees that Ontario’s Green Energy Act, and Nextera’s proposed Jericho wind energy project, is having on rural Lambton Shores. “Country life out here, it’s not like it once was,” De Groot said.
Florida-based Nextera is planning to build a 92-turbine wind farm in Lambton Shores and neighbouring Warwick Township, and the community has divided between farmers who signed leases, allowing the wind companies to build turbines on their land, and those who didn’t, De Groot said. When the land agents came around in 2008, he and his father took a look at what they were offering, and turned them down. “Dad said, ‘You know what, anything to do with the government that is 50 pages long, don’t sign it.'”
But other farmers did, including some of De Groot’s neighbours. Nextera received a contract to sell power to Ontario, and is in the final stages of securing provincial environmental approval to move ahead with its project. “Farmers aren’t waving at each other on the roads any more,” De Groot said. “It’s sad . . . it should have been done a different way. It shouldn’t have been pushed on us.”
De Groot grew up on the farm near the small community of Arkona, went to agricultural college, married and has a one-year-old child he still hopes will be the fourth generation of the family to farm on Northville Road. Read article
Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Sarah Hornblower says intensive behavioural intervention therapy has made a world of difference for Josh, her five-year-old autistic son. But, she worries wind farms coming to Lambton Shores will blow the progress away.
Hornblower and her husband, Chris, felt lucky when Josh qualified for the OHIP-covered in-home therapy after only a year or so on the waiting list. They saw families in other areas waiting much longer. “He wasn’t talking,” she said. “He wasn’t toilet trained. He wasn’t interacting at all. He wouldn’t look at you.” That changed after the therapy. “Through the work of these people, he’s fully toilet trained. He can speak, He’s learning to read. He can ride a bike . . . things we never thought were possible.”
The couple has seven children and three have been diagnosed with autism. Josh is the most severely impacted. Hornblower said they began hearing rumours about wind projects about a year after moving in 2007 to Ridge Road. There are already 10 turbines near Ravenswood and she initially thought a few more wouldn’t be a problem. Read article
Yesterday afternoon we protested in London with a whole FIVE people at Health Minister/Deputy Premier Deb Matthews’ swanky garden party. I suppose if it were a meek five it would have been rather boring…..it was far from that though.
We chanted, educated, made the Liberals cringe for about an hour and a half on that hot afternoon. Deb stayed in the centre of the yard, surrounded by ‘her people’.
Her aide came out early on (before we got going vocally) and said he was glad to see were “respectful” and not like some of those people you see (ahem…) chanting and yelling on TV against turbines (I know, don’t laugh too hard – we were in dresses- he didn’t recognize us!).
I looked him in the eye and said, “You see those people on the front of the paper protesting wind turbines?”
“Yeah…?” he says, glancing up. Read the rest of this entry
Is the Ontario government trying to make peace with rural communities on the controversial issue of industrial wind turbines? It’s certainly a question being asked after the province recently announced plans to improve how large energy projects are sited in Ontario. In a recent letter, the Ministry of Energy asked the Ontario Power Authority and the Independent Electricity System Operator to help develop a new regional energy planning process.
Under this new protocol, municipalities, the energy sector and other stakeholders are expected to be formally consulted about proposed projects, according to the Ministry of Energy. However, officials aren’t sure yet how this process would work under the existing Ontario Green Energy Act. “We are working closely with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ministry of Rural Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment on developing a strategy to increase local control when it comes to the siting of future large green energy projects,” a Ministry of Energy spokesperson wrote in an email. “That process would be consistent with an improved regional energy planning process — communities must have a stronger voice and real engagement in decision making.”
While Ontario municipalities have been calling for greater oversight, Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper isn’t sold on the proposed process. Read article
At the October 3, 2012 final public meeting for the Suncor Adelaide Wind Project, it became apparent that there was no Shadow Flicker information available for the public, most importantly for those who would be affected by it. Questioning the Suncor dude about this he said he could get me the information for a specific area if I requested it. I said, “Oh good, I’d like it for the entire project”.
Clearly they didn’t take me seriously. We wrote the company and requested it again. The response from Chris Scott was, “In regards to your request for a “shadow-flicker” map, as requested at the October 3 Open House, we are currently preparing our shadow-flicker study. We will be sure to contact you when the study is completed.”
Months go on, and we attend the Cedar Point Suncor meeting in early April and ask where the Shadow Flicker report is. The response from C. Scott is “OK”. OK WHAT??? We stick the voice recorders on until he says we’ll get the report by the end of the month.
And here it is, 6 months after I first requested it. Note, the Adelaide project documents have since been deemed ‘complete’ by the Ministry of Environment, and put of for 45 days of public comment. Yes, it’s complete even without the shadow flicker reports because the Green Energy Act removed the requirement for the wind company to provide a shadow flicker report to the public.
So if you are one of the persons who will receive 40 minutes of shadow flicker a day ( like some will in this project), you would never have known about this flicker until it happened. How incredibly considerate of this wind company, Suncor, eh?
At Bluewater’s April 2 meeting, councillors passed a motion to ask the Huron County Health Unit to undertake an independent health study on industrial wind turbines. In a phone interview last week, Councillor John Gillespie said the request would take the form of a letter to the Health Unit, which will be made public after municipal staff draft it.
“We’ll wait and see what comes from the Health Unit,” he said adding, the organization’s mandate says it will investigate concerns of the community through research studies, but ultimately it will be up to the organization to decide if it is something they can do. “It was an idea I had in relation to the role of what the Health Unit might be able to do in relation to industrial wind turbines,” explained Gillespie. “With the mounting evidence locally and in southwestern Ontario with residents living close to wind turbines having issues like sleep deprivation because of low frequency noise and shadow flicker, I thought it would be good to examine the issue on a broader scale,” he said.
Bluewater has three wind turbine developments proposed for the municipality, which are at various stages in the Ministry of the Environment’s renewable energy approval process. “It was appropriate to ask under the circumstances,” he added. Read article
Chatham Daily News
David Libby has lived on Golf Course Line outside Ridgetown for nearly 20 years. He built his brick home with ceramic tiled floors in the kitchen and dining room. A decision, all these years later, that is helping him sleep in his basement at night.
In December 2010, two industrial wind turbines began operating a few hundred metres to the south of his property. The noise coming from their direction was waking him up at night. “I tried six different kinds of insulation to block out the noise through my bedroom windows,” said Libby. Sheets of one-inch Styrofoam and thick corrugated cardboard still cover his upstairs bedroom windows. “It helped,” he said. But, he says he gets his best sleep now in the basement. “I’m lucky I have nearly an inch of cement in my floors to help deaden the sound,” he said.
A neighbour isn’t as fortunate. Mike, who asked his last name not be published, has lived on Shewburg Line for over 20 years. “I would lie there wide awake (at night in bed),” said Mike. He too has moved a mattress into his unfinished basement to try to get a better night’s sleep. But rest still doesn’t come easy without sleeping pills, said Mike. Read article
Dear Nextera, Suncor, Media and School Board trustees,
I am quite upset to see incorrect and confusing numbers reported in the media as to how many and how close wind turbines are to be from the schools in Lambton County. It is not the media’s fault.
Nextera, Suncor: I have reviewed wind project noise documents for 4 years – I should be competent in it by now. But I find I am tearing my hair out reviewing the documents, trying to find the exact noise, and distances turbines are to the schools in your projects.
Currently, my frustration stems from:
- The Bosanquet elementary school does not even have a Receptor ID on the project draft map.
- The hundreds of receptor ID’s are not numerically ordered in the noise chart – and I honestly can’t even find the school ID (or in this case, it’s neighbour’s, because it doesn’t have an ID).
- At the wind developer meetings, the schools are not even identified on the large maps. Security was called over when I wrote “school” on the map location for others to be able to see. How’s THAT for informing the public?? No wonder the media doesn’t know the true numbers… Read the rest of this entry
[Ed note: the school board plans to have a presentation and a workshop with Dr. David Colby – This UNACCEPTABLE.]
Chatham Daily News
The Lambton Kent District School Board plans to inform the Ontario government some industrial wind turbines are being constructed near two of its elementary schools in Lambton County. Trustee Jane Bryce was successful in having a majority of trustees accept her motion during Tuesday’s board meeting in Chatham that a letter be sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews and Minister of Education Liz Sandals. She wants the letter to make them aware that provincial government of approval has been granted for two wind projects being build near the two schools.
She said five turbines are approved to go up near Aberarder Central School between Camlachie and Forest and another four turbines are to be built near Bosanquet Central School in Lambton Shores. Bryce questioned if the LKDSB were looking for a site for a new school “we probably wouldn’t put in the middle of where industrial turbines are.” She said she just wants to make sure the premier and ministers are aware of this situation, considering the number of people who have been asking for a moratorium on the construction of industrial wind turbines over potential impacts on human health.
Bryce raised the issue, which was discussed during a delegation to the board of trustees at the March 26 meeting about NextEra Jericho Wind Project near Aberarder or Suncor’s Cedar Point Wind Power Project near Bosanquet. Read article
It just hit me- tonight is the final public meeting for the Suncor Cedar Point Wind Project in Watford. You know where Watford is – it’s where your rural roots are (right?). You always say it’s where your dad spent his summers, so you have inherited those, ah, ‘roots’… I guess. Or maybe just the boots.
In any case I thought I should at least tell you, you have missed almost all the community consultations for many a wind project in your dad’s old stomping grounds – I know, the notification sucks, that’s why most of us don’t know about the projects until they are practically built, so if you are unable to attend, I completely understand. You can always write the wind developer and complain that you weren’t properly notified. It wouldn’t change anything, but at least you can FEEL you’ve been part of the ‘process’, of being ignored.
Since you haven’t been to one of these meetings, and probably won’t get to the one tonight, I’ll tell you what it’s like. Actually, come to think of it, the meetings aren’t much different than the meetings we have had with you. Read the rest of this entry
Lambton County, ON, North American Platform Against Wind Power
Today on World Autism Awareness Day, Sarah is worried. She is the mother of three autistic children. But Sarah’s concerns have been increased tenfold by the fact that applications have been filed for two industrial wind projects totaling over 130 turbines near her 36 acre farm in Lambton County. “It’s a haven of peace for my kids. My neighbours know them and look out for them if they stray,” says Sarah. “But I have researched the effects of wind turbines on autistic children and I am devastated. Who will look out for them now?”
Recently a survey by Davis and Steigler (2010) of over 17,000 children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) shows that over 40% were “hypersensitive to sounds” and that “noise sensitivity is a particular problem” for children with ASD.
Stansfeld and Matheson (2003) note, “It is likely that children represent a group which is particularly vulnerable to the non-auditory health effects of noise … In view of the fact that children are still developing both physically and cognitively, there is a possible risk that exposure to an environmental stressor such as noise may have irreversible negative consequences for this group.”
It is acknowledged that noise emissions both auditory and non-auditory from wind turbines have particular characteristics which contribute to chronic sleep disturbance, stress, nausea and impaired cognition. Read the rest of this entry
There will be one less wind turbine in Ontario. An overnight fire has destroyed the top portion of a wind turbine at the Kingsbridge Wind Farm near Goderich, Ont. The fire in the seven-year-old turbine began around 1 a.m. on Tuesday and had burned itself out about two hours later.
Dan Hayden of Kingsbridge Wind Farm Operations says “It has burnt itself out through the night and we have a team of specialists coming to do a root-cause analysis.” Neighbours speculate it was a mechanical or electrical problem because the blaze started where all the gears and electronics in the turbine are located. Hayden says while nothing can be ruled out, it’s unlikely a lightning strike or any kind of sabotage started the fire.
Dan Morgan lives near the turbine and witnessed the fire. He says he “saw an orange fireball a couple of miles from the front yard, so I thought I better investigate this,” before driving over to get a closer look. Read article
By Barbara Simpson, Sarnia Observer
SARNIA – A concerned Lambton County resident is calling on the local public school board to support a moratorium on industrial wind turbines being built within the school board district. Plympton-Wyoming resident Keith Douglas said the board needs to act especially since wind projects are being proposed for sites near two Lambton Kent District schools.
Scientific research shows wind turbines generate both audible and inaudible noise, which could potentially impact the health of students and teachers, Douglas told trustees. “Closing the windows in a school will not keep (low frequency sound) away from the children or teachers,” he said, adding low frequency sound has been linked to cases of motion sickness and disorientation. Suncor Energy Products is proposing to erect as many as 46 turbines in the area of Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township. Read article
Ontario Ministry of Environment Officer Martin McConnochie November 29, 2012 at the home of a person affected by wind turbines. He explains why he could not measure the noise of the wind turbines on a particularly windy/noisy night. More evidence of corruption in this wind energy scandal.
LELAND ROAD- Middle-school student Brian Reilly says he can’t play basketball on Leland Road when the strobing effect from the Kingston Wind Independence (KWI) Turbine’s shadow flicker is at full throttle. “I get a wicked bad headache so I have to go inside,” Brian told the Journal as he stood on the front steps of his neighbors house.
Dan Alves, also a resident of Leland Road, refuses to allow his epileptic son to stay in his bedroom when the KWI Turbine’s shadow flicker penetrates into his house. “That’s pretty much the rule,” Alves told the Journal on Friday afternoon. “We don’t want him in his room but we’re not always home so we can’t control it.” Read article
Tiffany Smale, London Free Press
Enniskillen Township is my home. My family is from Enniskillen Township. It’s where my husband and I grew up and where we had planned on building our home and raising our family. When my father in law was approached about the wind leases, we became concerned about what this would mean for our future home. We approached neighbours and were soon told that there was interest in our area and that some neighbours were considering signing leases for the potential revenue. We began researching and the more we read, the more we worried about possible impacts on our health, our pets and our property value.
Our family decided that we needed to make sure that our friends and neighbours had all the information before they signed. We began planning an Awareness Meeting with the hopes that our neighbours could hear first hand from those who already have wind projects in their communities. Our awareness meeting was held in Oil Springs on March 7th and it was a full house. There were four speakers who addressed various concerns and issues. It was a woman named Monica Elmes who resonated with me. Her community has been dealing with wind turbines for several years and it has effected their homes and health. Hearing her stories of how neighbours’ homes are no longer a safe place and of people being forced to spend time away from home in order to have peace shook me. As I looked around the room at so many familiar faces, I began to imagine what this would do to our community. Read article
Date: Friday, March 1
Time: 8:30 AM
Place: Goderich Square, Goderich MAP
Bring signs to picket and to display on your vehicle, voices, friends, neighbours – you know the drill (-;
Court Proceedings begin at 9:30, but there is limited space inside. Please plan to continue picketing outside the courthouse while proceedings are going on.
We are asking as many people as possible to show up in Goderich. The motion in court was brought by HMQ and K2 to dismiss the Drennan case concerning the injunction stopping the Ministry of the Environment giving K2 a REA (Renewable Energy Approval) for approximately 138 turbines (270MW).
Owen Sound Times
Wind turbines cause distress among people who live near them, but more and better studies are needed if there’s to be a policy shift in Ontario, the Grey Bruce Board of Health was told Friday. The board was presented with a report cultivated from a comprehensive review of the most current and credible studies around the world on the effects from wind turbines. The board requested the review last fall after a plaintive appeal from local residents who said they were suffering ill health from the massive turbines and wanted help.
Medical officer of health Dr. Hazel Lynn and research assistant Dr. Ian Arra, a medical doctor with a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology, spent the last few months conducting the review.
“There is no one (study) that didn’t find an effect of distress,” said Arra of the 18 peer-reviewed studies he focused on. “All of these studies basically found that there is an association. You cannot prove anything in research, you can only disprove the opposite, so there is no research that there is no association. That leaves us with association.” Read article
Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Suncor is taking Plympton-Wyoming to court over the town’s wind turbine bylaws, including a requirement they be at least 2 km from neighbouring homes. Suncor Energy Products has a contract to sell the province energy from the up to 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Power project it plans to build in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township. The company launched its legal challenge of Plympton-Wyoming’s bylaws in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Sarnia at the same time it’s working through Ontario’s environmental approval process for the wind farm that would stretch from Camlachie north to Ravenswood Line.
“We expected this,” said Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper. “We’re ready to defend our bylaws.” Ontario’s Green Energy Act took planning approvals for wind farms out of the hands of municipal councils but Plympton-Wyoming pressed ahead by passing a series of bylaws to control wind projects, including setting its own 2-km setback. Ontario only requires that wind turbines be at least 550 metres from neighbouring homes.
Suncor spokesperson Jason Vaillant said the company has been working with the municipality on the issue since 2006. “We have talked to them recently about their bylaws and we feel that they are in conflict with the process that has been laid out for us by the province,” he said. Read article
Heather Wright, Sarnia Lambton Independent
The wind war in Plympton-Wyoming is headed to court. And Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper says his municipality will fight to protect its residents against the potential health effects of wind turbines on its residents.
Suncor Energy has a contract with the provincial government for a 100 megawatt, 46 turbine project in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores. About 28 of those turbines will go in Plympton-Wyoming in the Camlachie area. The municipality has taken an aggressive stand against the project putting in tough local regulations.
Thursday, Suncor Energy Products served the township with notice it’s challenging the municipality’s bylaws which require turbines to be two kilometers from homes, a $200,000 deposit for decommissioning and its building permit fees of $10,000. A court date has not been set yet, but Mayor Lonny Napper the township is hiring a lawyer to defend its bylaws. “We feel we have a strong case here,” says Napper. “It is our mandate under the Municipal Act to protect our people and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We’re not against wind turbines; we’re in this strictly for the health and safety of our people.” Read article
Sarnia Lambton Independent
Local anti-wind activists are worried Lambton Shores officials are not making tough enough demands nor asking the right questions on the two wind energy projects in the community. Lambton Shores preparing its comments on the Suncor Energy project (62 turbines) and NextEra Energy (92 turbines) which will be within the municipal boundaries.
The municipality planned to hire a consultant to comb through the binders of questions to be answered but found any firm with expertise in the area was already employed by the wind energy companies. Marcelle Brooks, spokesperson for Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern, has looked at the municipal response to both projects and has one major concern. In both documents, the municipality states the turbines are equipped with sensors which automatically shut down if abnormal amounts of noise is found.
The sound waves are one of the major concerns of the people opposed to wind energy who say the sound can cause headaches, sleeplessness and tinnitus. “I question where that information was obtained,” says Brooks. In fact, in an email to anti-wind activist one of NextEra’s consultants debunks the idea. “The turbines can be shut down remotely but not as a result of achieving a certain sound limit,” writes Derek Dudek in an email. “The 40 decibels is not measured at the turbine but rather at the receptor location (nearby homes.)” Read article
Doc Zone | Season 2013-2013, Episode 18 | Feb 7, 2013 | 45:14 – Wind Rush
A growing anti-wind movement says giant turbines have gone up without sufficient research into health impacts. In the rush to embrace wind power, have the people who live among the wind farms been forgotten?
Heather Wright, Sarnia-Lambton Independant
Lambton wind activists are warning landowners they could be at risk even if they don’t have a wind turbine on their property. Lambton Shores is soon to be home to two major wind projects. Suncor Energy plans to build a solar project with 62 industrial turbines and NextEra Energy’s plan has 92 turbines. Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern spokesperson Marcelle Brooks says a little known part of the regulations for turbines allows for boundary setback reductions. It basically means the giant turbines could be placed very close to the property lines of people who don’t want turbines on their land.
Suncor is applying for 21 boundary setback reductions and NextEra is looking for 39. “It benefits the host property owner,” says Brooks. “The companies are putting the access roads close to the turbines as close to the property line as possible so they don’t chop up the farmer’s field.”
But she says in the case of a massive failure of the turbines, they could land on the neighbour’s property. “If it did fall into the neighbours property, you’re going to have not only the blade length of 50 meters but you’re going to potentially have another 20 meters of hub and turbine tower come crashing into your field. A hub and rotor weighs 144 tonnes…that’s going to make a pretty big hole.” Read article
By Tara Jeffrey, Sarnia Observer
Maria Van Bommel is hoping to be a voice for rural Ontario now that she’s part of an advisory team to incoming premier Kathleen Wynne. “It’s not every day the premier calls you directly and asks for your participation,” said the former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP. “I take it as a real opportunity to present rural Ontario to the premier and hope it will have some impact in bettering communications.”
Van Bommel was one of several key players named to a transition team that Wynne says will help shape her government. Others include Arnold Chan, vice president, Aboriginal Affairs and General Counsel, former Toronto mayor David Crombie, and Lyn McLeod, Ontario Liberal Party leader from 1992 to 1996.
“I’m in very impressive company here,” said Van Bommel, pointing to a series of upcoming meetings for the group, as Wynne prepares to open the Ontario legislature on Feb. 19. For years, the Middlesex County resident has operated the family farm with her husband. Van Bommel says her contacts within the farm community will help strengthen the relationship between the premier’s office and rural Ontario. Read article
Now that we have gotten this “Toronto thing” out of the way; let’s get this rural Ontario “thing” – wind turbines – out of the way. We want a moratorium and answers to our questions as to why so many people are being adversely affected. We will not accept replies that are condescending and dismissive.
Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, one of the authors of “Effects Of Industrial Wind Turbine Noise On Sleep And Health ,2012” – theMars Hill epidemiological study, says it best:
“If someone came into a doctor’s office and said they have chest pain and the physician said ‘It’s all in your head,’ without investigating, that would be the height of malpractice. It’s the same thing if patients are complaining of sleep disturbances and other ill effects, and off the top of your head you claim they’re making it up and it’s about the way the turbines look, especially when there’s a known, plausible mechanism for why people could be affected. There’s nothing magical about the effect that people are sleeping poorly due to the noise. There’s nothing difficult to understand or fantastical. Nothing stretches your belief.”
This whole issue has always been about ethics and what the application of the practical limits are of harm – i.e., what you can reasonably accept in the way of harm of the rural population.
I would hope that instead you will want to know why it is, despite the all the excuses of the wind industry and the MOE, that people still are being affected? Why are there increasing reports of vertigo and nausea with the latest projects?
The first step to getting those answers is a moratorium on construction of projects. That would be a real show of understanding and respect for rural Ontario.
And, instead of becoming the Minister of Agriculture, you should create and head a new Ministry, “The Ministry of Ethics” to oversee the other ministries.
We need a Minister to protect us from the Ministers.
London Free Press
You just missed it; you’re five minutes late”.
I had just got out of the car and hurried over to the nearest person standing along the gravel roadside, anxiously asking what had happened.
Looking a mile across the snow drifted field we could see the dismembered cottonwood tree, and vaguely, a branch hanging in the air with what appeared to be the bald eagle nest embedded in it. Dammit, we had driven two hours to get to the site, hoping we had a chance of arriving before they went too far with the chainsaw, but pessimistically prepared our thoughts for being too late.
“It could be ugly by the time we get there…”, I had surmised over my shoulder to Muriel, who was riding in the back as my dad made tracks down to Haldimand County that early January morning.
The police had blocked the road leading to the tree and the nest, informing locals they would be charged with trespassing if they drove in, so onlookers had watched the limb come loose from the road.
It was at this time, I had to stop and think – the eagle nest was gone, there was nothing we could do to put it back in place, yes, much like death. The home that they had chosen to raise their young had been destroyed, “for their own safety”, the wind company NextEra and Ministry of Natural Resources said.
I think of people who have suffered the same fate in rural Ontario: Barb, Stephana, Glen, Sandy, Tracy, Aaron, Kay, Lisa, Ernie, Ted, Roger, Larry, Bert, Helen, Ross, Darlene, Paul, Nikki – more than I can list, and their families. They have been forced out of their homes, their habitat, by wind turbines being pushed up too close. Many are still trying to escape, but unable to do so, due to finances and unsellability of their homes. Read the rest of this entry
Year of the Turbines, Part Two
(read Part One)
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
“Dec 17: Early AM. Neil not sleeping well, me neither.” Monica Elmes wrote those words in her diary back in 2010. It wasn’t until some time later that she realized what had happened the previous day outside her home in Chatham-Kent. After years of preparation and close to nine months of construction, Enbridge Inc. had flicked the switch and started 44 powerful wind turbines turning near the Elmes household. Lack of sleep was just the first symptom for Elmes and her family.
“To me, the visual intrusion is huge but, also, when they started to function, the noise intrusion was way more than I ever thought. When I first saw the map and saw where we were located, I thought, ‘Oh, good, we’re 1.5 km away from the closest one,’” says Elmes. She almost let out a sigh of relief at the time, not expecting the noise would be bothersome. Nothing could be further from the truth. Noise levels today with the turbines operating are often ten times what they were before.
And noise was just the beginning. For the first time in her life, Elmes began experiencing painful earaches. “It was kind of a definitive moment for me when I realized,” she says. At first, she didn’t equate the turbine noise and the ear discomfort. But, one day when the turbines stopped, her ears started popping and crackling – and she realized the increasingly worsening ear pains were being caused by the turning blades.
One of the problems so many people have with turbines is that they’re intermittent and unpredictable. Elmes says, “It’s incredibly variable. There’s times when it’s fine, other than visually. There are other times where it feels like something’s beating you over the head.”
Elmes is fortunate that she’s mostly susceptible only to health issues associated with the audible noise from the turbines. Her spouse, Neil, is a completely different story. “My husband is the one I worry about more, because he seems to be sensitive to what I would assume is non-audible low-frequency noise, so he doesn’t sleep well anymore.” Read the rest of this entry
Year of the Turbines, Part One
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
This is a story about one woman and her family. Average people, like most of us. It’s about how their happy, rural lives changed dramatically beginning a few short years ago. About how they were transformed from contented farmers into faceless people who feel trapped in their own lives. It’s a story of what happened when wind turbines changed everything. And it’s a story about how people’s lives in our communities are about to change, too, with the proposed installation of up to 400 turbines right in our own backyard.
Monica Elmes lives in Chatham-Kent, about an hour or so south of here. She and her husband Neil have owned a small cash crop farm just south of Ridgetown for the past 17 years. She’s an intelligent person who studied Science and Agriculture and worked as a research technician for the University of Guelph and Ridgetown College. Slightly more than a decade ago, she and Neil decided to have a child and she’s been a stay-at-home mom ever since.
Until a few years ago, she described her life on the farm as ‘fabulous.’ “We bought our property and farm here planning to never leave, have done extensive renovations and everything we can with the view that this was where we were going to live and die forever – and absolutely loved this place,” she says.
As a farmer, she and Neil have always been concerned about the environment. “I’m really an environmentally conscious person. Everything we do on our farm – we have our environmental farm plan. Everything we do in our home – we’ve always thought about those consequences to the environment,” she says.
That’s what got her excited about the idea of wind turbines in the first place. About six years ago, there was a lot of talk in her community through the grapevine about people wanting to lease to wind companies – and the couple were definitely interested. At the time, crop prices were really bad and they were intrigued when a group of local residents approached them: “They thought if, as neighbours, we could get together and form sort of a group to approach the company, it would be beneficial for everyone to have that sort of power position, kind of a cooperative, community thing,” she says. “A lot of people – ourselves, as well – we thought this would be a good thing for the environment – and an opportunity to make money at the same time.” Read the rest of this entry