Listowell Banner / Minto Express editorial
For residents across southwestern Ontario, the prospect of seeing a wind turbine in your back yard is an increasing likelihood. As we’ve seen already, the issue is causing a divide between landowners who have agreed to sign leases with wind companies, and neighbours who, for whatever reason, are opposed to wind turbines.
Whatever side of the debate you fall on, it’s clear that those opposed to the project clearly outweigh the number of people in support. With wind supporters in the minority, it makes me question the kind of thoughts that might go through a lease signer’s head as they put their name on that dotted line.
Obviously there’s the financial incentive of hosting a turbine on your land. Who could say no to a revenue stream that promises to pay off, rain or shine, all year round? Unfortunately, thanks to a non-disclosure clause in wind turbine lease agreements, signees aren’t talking about what they stand to gain or lose by hosting a turbine. Presumably, it’s a fraction compared to the millions of dollars that wind companies stand to profit if any project goes forward.
Money aside, is a wind turbine worth risking the health of your family or your neighbours? The health effects of wind turbines remain largely unproven, but the federal government is listening to those that have reported issues. Health Canada is currently in the process of gathering information for a study that will explore the relationship between wind turbine noise and health effects reported by, and objectively measured in, people living near wind power developments.
The study, announced last July, is being designed with support from external experts, specializing in areas including noise, health assessment, clinical medicine and epidemiology. The results of the study are expected to be published in 2014, while projects across Ontario continue through the approval process. The anecdotal evidence from residents suffering from things like nausea, headaches and trouble sleeping is that each person has their own individual reaction to wind turbines.
Are you going to take a risk on the health of your family or your neighbour’s family? Not to mention the possible impact on the health and well-being of the livestock in the area, which has been largely ignored in studies. In an area where the economy is so dependent on the strength of the agricultural community, that revenue stream in your back field may have larger implications than you intended.
Lastly, is it worth alienating an entire community? In the communities of Perth East and North Perth, a survey indicated that 96 per cent of those in the study area were opposed to a wind project in the area. Yet, a handful of residents who have signed the lease agreement remain committed to the project, no doubt fully aware of the protests from their neighbours and even members of municipal council. Those contracts may be signed behind closed doors, but soon enough the names come out.
Is that wind turbine in your back field worth the possible backlash from the public? What about pushing a neighbour to a new farm or worse, out of business? Sooner than later, the wind companies may be at your door with contract in hand, and when that moment comes you need to ask yourself – is it worth it?