That was the message, given loud and clear at the West Lincoln/Glanbrook Wind Action Group (WLGWAG) information evening last Thursday.
It was a full house last Thursday as hundreds gathered at Smithville Covenant Christian School, many curious to hear how wind turbines will affect residents despite their distance from the Industrial Wind Turbine (IWT) developments.
“Most citizens who live in areas not directly impacted by IWT development believe that because of ‘distance from the development’ those developments do not affect them,” said Deb Murphy, WLGWAG co-chair.
That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth as the renewable energy program itself will continue to cost everyone a huge amount of money, Murphy explained.
The cost of hydro continues to rise, a result of Ontario’s Feed-in-Tariff contracts. The FIT program guarantees payment to wind projects, whether or not they make power.
The purported devaluation of the rural residences will result in a decrease of tax dollars being paid by those citizens, leaving other residents to make up the difference.
“Citizens living near wind developments are the only people in Ontario who do not have protection under the Environmental Act, the Municipal Act, the Canada Health Act, the Criminal Code s. 430. If this type of elimination of citizen and environmental rights can happen for the renewable energy sector, what sector is ‘next’?” she explained.
The HAF Wind energy project’s five industrial wind turbines are now up along both sides of Sixteen Road. They are scheduled to be operational sometime next year. These are the first of many IWT’s planned for West Lincoln and the Niagara Region.
When Edward Engel and Anne Fairfield look out their window, they see wind turbines. The five wind turbines are located right near their West Lincoln property. They were completed last Tuesday.
“It was a sad day for us,” said Anne.
“Seeing them is nothing compared to what will happen next year when they’re running.”
The couple isn’t giving up their fight. They are waiting for the tribunal to decide whether the Green Energy Act is constitutional or not. They have several appeals before the Environmental Review Tribunal regarding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
They are working in connection with their appeal for a decision that would tell Vineland Power Inc. to take down their turbines and stop Niagara Region Wind Corporation from proceeding with their project.
They have already spent over $25,000 on legal fees, paid for by donations. Anne said it is going take all of the community’s financial contributions to win this fight.
“You and your neighbours cannot hide from Industrial Wind Turbines in Smithville or any other urban centre,” Anne explained. “All of us everywhere are being affected with increased energy bills.”
IWT’s will cost all residents of West Lincoln, she said. Residents will have to pay higher property taxes due to reduced assessments and if you can see a IWT from your home, your property value will decrease, she warned residents.
“They may look simple, but they are very dangerous to your health and financial well-being,” Anne explained. “Your health, your safety, your wealth, your environment and this community are worth protecting now,” she said.
Another concerned resident Loretta Shields explained that studies conducted on the NRWC’s Natural Heritage Assessment report, reveal that several industrial wind turbines are sited within areas designated under the Official Plan for the Niagara region. The policy framework within the Official Plan is based on maintaining a healthy landscape throughout Niagara, while giving particular attention to natural features of special significance within the broader landscape.
This Core Natural Heritage System is an essential component of a healthy landscape.
She further explained that a comparison of the Natural Core Heritage map with the proposed locations of the NRWC’s industrial wind turbines shows that six industrial wind turbines are being sited within the potential Natural Heritage corridors that connect the core natural areas. One additional wind turbine is sited adjacent to this corridor.
She said that the wind proponent has acknowledges that the policies of an Official Plan may not specifically apply to the Project.
The community is encouraging municipal and regional councils to investigate this matter.