New wind turbine rules fail to impress Guildwood critics

The latest regulations regarding the location of wind turbines in Ontario have generated much criticism, especially from the Guildwood neighbourhood.

New rules announced on Sept. 24 state projects of five industrial wind turbines or less have to be at least 550 metres away from the nearest home. Wind farms with more than five turbines must be located even further away.

“We’re certainly unimpressed with government’s idea of responsible planning,” said John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a citizen’s group comprising of 37 grassroots organizations around the province, including the Guildwood-based group, Save the Toronto Bluffs, which he also heads.

The rules are covered under the province’s Green Energy Act, unveiled in February. Since the act has already been made into law, the new rules go into effect immediately.

Wind Concerns Ontario had lobbied for stricter rules, complaining noise and vibrations from turbines cause health problems. But the wind energy industry has repeatedly stated there is no evidence in peer-reviewed science journals suggesting such noise causes adverse health effects or bothers people as much as other noise.

But Laforet says the issue goes beyond the so-called Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY)-ism, a title he feels has been wrongly placed on Wind Concerns members, as well as those living in communities surrounding the Bluffs.

“This issue is about so much more than NIMBYism and turbines,” Laforet said. “What’s happened in Scarborough has been an absolute assault on citizens’ rights and participation. It’s about environmental protection and maintaining citizens’ role in democracy in between election.”

He suggests the regulations are being forced without discourse and the Green Energy Act allows wind turbine companies to begin planning and construction without communities’ approval.

“No politician has truly been willing go to bat for this community and it’s led to a strong movement forming to fill that void,” Laforet added. “The government has demonstrated they are not remotely interested in listening to citizens’ concerns or eliminating real environmental and health concerns.”

Reports say environment minister John Gerretsen believes rules governing offshore projects have not yet been drafted, but should be coming in the spring.