“The [conflicts between wind turbines and residents] are more than just NIMBYISM; they are a justified reaction to intrusive technologies that would not even be polluting the landscape except for involuntary taxpayer/ratepayer subsidies enacted and enforced by government edict. Capitalists and environmentalists unite!”
Mark Twain said “a lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on”. The falsehoods about industrial wind turbines have been marching the globe for 20+ years, but the truth is now in its shoes and making its way into the court of public opinion and into the court of law. Has the tide turned against government created industrial wind?
It’s been a fervent time since the offshore announcement in Ontario recently (see my previous post, Ontario’s Wind Moratorium: Public Discontent Sends a Global Message to Government-Dependent Energy (and energy sprawl). But while celebrating the offshore moratorium announcement, rural Ontario was justly miffed that the province announced business-as-usual with its aggressive government subsidies and permitting of on-land industrial wind parks.
Communities, however, are waking up to the uneconomic, anti-environmental nature of wind toward a goal of extracting more moratoriums. Public-spirited groups are educating ahead of the next provincial election to get the attention of the provincial Ministers and the Premier and what has been to date government policy by public confusion . Such stubborn, bully-headed policy could sink itself come October 6, 2011.
This is a government that is being guided by a consulting company that was/is spending $300,000 to stay the course on industrial-wind subsidies/permits. As much was exposed in a leaked document in the Legislature whereby the Provincial Liberals admitted to using “consultants” to confuse taxpayers about energy.
Ontario’s Ian Hanna Decision Appealed
A related development to Ontario’s backlash against industrial wind concerns an ongoing court case.
Ian Hanna from Big Island has challenged the Province for not following a careful and scientific approach to turbine placement. This lawsuit, recently defeated, sought to shut down a turbine installation in Ontario for an “undetermined amount of time.”
Although legitimate heath concerns were acknowledged, it was determined that the 550 metre setback was legally framed and that further legal challenges should proceed through the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) process. Still, there is no doubt that too many people have been forced from homes, feeling medical effects, sleeplessness, headaches, tinnitus, irritability, depression, heart beat irregularities, to name a few.
The upside of that legal challenge was that it pointed the anti turbine pencil laser on the courts and province and generated not a little publicity for the movement. But two weeks ago, Eric Gillespie, Lawyer for Ian Hanna, announced an appeal. So this legal dispute still has some healthy legs, and we will keep you abreast of those developments.
The first ever of its kind in Ontario, the Chatham Kent ERT appeal, has all the makings of a TV series. Well-suited lawyers for developer Suncor, with large turbines provocatively displayed on their screen savers, were strategically placed on expansive tables to annoy activists. Another large table supported multiple lawyers from the Ministry of the Environment, ironically acting for Suncor and for the province in order to protect the government-enabled turbine business.
The two days of proceedings I observed were remarkable. But I apparently missed an even more dramatic day the next week when Dr Geoff Leventhal (gainfully reimbursed for his testimony by the various wind interests) gave testimony that surprised nearly everyone in the room, perhaps not least Albert Engel, the lawyer for turbine developer Suncor. Leventhal could not refute the list of negative health effects of turbines even with Mr. Engel’s expert guidance.
Another surprise irony was that the sound expert for Suncor had a hearing disability. As evidence and cross examination evolved, several witnesses for the proponent had to have been quite uneasy. Maybe even Mr. Engel. At least that’s how I saw it. (For more details on this amazing hearing, click here.)
Turbine realists, as I call them, included experts in epidemiology, sound and noise, and risk management, including Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, M.D., USA, Dr. Robert Thorne, PhD, Health Sciences and Acoustics, Australia, Richard James, INCE Acoustician, USA, Dr. Christopher Hanning, M.D., FRCA, MRCS, LRCP, Sleep Specialist, UK, Dr. Robert McMurtry, M.D., F.R.C.S. (C), F.A.C.S., Canada, Dr Arline Bronzaft, PhD, Noise and Health Specialist, USA, Dr. Jeffery Armmini, PhD, Epidemiologist, Canada, Dr. Carl Phillips, PhD, M.P.P., Epidemiology and Public Policy, USA, Dr. Daniel Shepherd, PhD, Noise and Health Specialist, New Zealand.) Consider them a Who’s Who of turbine hard data. They will be heard from again.
Suffice it to say that the Tribunal, first of its kind in the province, is progressing well, very well. Summations are eagerly anticipated as additional high drama.
Across the seas and here in North America, there are more emerging legal stories challenging Big Wind.
In the UK, Jane and Julian Davis are engaged in a unique possibly first of a kind legal challenge: The constant humming and helicopter like noises have them furious and the family has retained lawyers to advance a “nuisance legal suit” that is sure to set proponents again on their ears if successful. These fine folks just “want to go home” without the noise that is devastating them. Thousands of words of testimony and ten days of hearings will be heard at the High Court beginning July 4.
Closer to home, the Erie County legislature (Buffalo) on March 17th a No Vote for turbines offshore passed with a huge margin of support: 13–2. This is another sign of an aging turbine ideology, wrinkles and pockmarks visible. (Tom Marks, U.S. Executive Director, Great Lakes Wind Truth, and other vibrant activist groups can claim some applause for their hard work in educating legislators.) This brings the number of moratoriums across NYPA GLOW project affected or interested counties to 7 out of 7.
But let’s not forget about the fermenting dissent in Australia. One Rosemary Quinn cannot suffer the noise and vibration of turbines two km away. She smothers the windows carefully at night, and uses her ceiling fan on high in an attempt to cover the noise. Her son and daughter-in-law, Bill and Jenny, are now gambling with their life’s investments, to fight the plans of wind farm developer AGL. Behind these legal challenges are real people, often chased from their principal financial and emotional investment and respite by the whirr and whomp of industrial intrusions on rural landscapes. The Australian Senate now has over 1,000 submissions in response to its request for evidence on the social and economic impact of rural turbines.
The above conflicts are more than just NIMBYISM; they are a justified reaction to intrusive technologies that would not even be on the landscape except for involuntary taxpayer/ratepayer subsidies enacted and enforced by government edict. Capitalists and environmentalists unite!
Conclusion: Ordinary Folks Cometh
What we need to remember in these legal musings is that there are so many cards yet to be played. Illegal massive bird kills of endangered, at risk species, near extermination of Eagles now, oceans criss-crossed with noise and vibration that are again creating killing fields, all of these lunacies hover and are sure to catch the eyes of attentive lawyers and activists. One by one, we bid you farewell, graduates of the Suzuki Foundation and Vestas School of Environmentalism.
It appears that the activists are not as the developers had hoped: blind men in a room with the lights out, searching for a black cat. They are ordinary working and retired people from all walks of life. They have lawyers. They have determination and grit. They appear to be everywhere in every unfortunate turbine laden country.
We now have our own vision of a greener world. Imagine 200,000 turbine “killing fields” worldwide with as little as 1-2% of electricity production in return. Then imagine a turbine free world.
There should not be a machine in every pristine as the DC Environmentalists-who-have-forgotten-the-Environment would have it.