Monday, 31 October 2011

Jutta Splettstoesser Win-With-Wind tour continues

Friends of Wind Ontario
Win-With-Wind Tour Continues

MEDIA ALERT: Monday October 31 | Kincardine Ontario

For immediate distribution – A farmer and mom from Kincardine is on a southern Ontario tour to transform perceptions on how Ontario thinks about wind energy. Jutta Splettstoesser is passionate about renewable energy and is bringing her message of
co-operation to the Wellington/Guelph area.

“Wind development and community can work together,” commented Mrs. Splettstoesser, president of Friends of Wind Ontario (FoWO). “With smart planning and open communications, wind energy development in rural Ontario can be a win-win. Renewable energy is the way of the future and rather than push back against it, we need to help communities be a part of the new energy conversation.”

Since June, FoWO has organized a series of events across southern Ontario. Over 500 people have attended meetings in Clinton, Chatham, London and Port Albert to hear speakers from the science, business, utility and government sectors. These events have been organized to help communities learn the facts about renewable energy and wind development.

“The bridge-building that Friends of Wind Ontario is doing is making a difference in how communities talk about energy,” commented Adrienne Downey, Operations and Business Development Manager from Enercon Canada Inc. “We need to hear from everyone in a community about their opinions of wind energy. In many communities that hasn’t been able to happen. The open and respectful approach to engagement that Friends of Wind uses is good for communities and the wind sector.”

Mrs. Splettstosser will be in the Guelph and Wellington area on Friday November 4, meeting with community groups and leaders. Media interviews are welcome.  

Friends of Wind Ontario (FoWO) is an independent and grassroots organization of wind enthusiasts from across Ontario. FoWO is interested in helping citizens and wind developers work together to build renewable energy projects that are good for the short and long term health of communities.
For more information please contact:
Jutta Splettstosser  President, Friends of Wind Ontario

Media inquires and bookings for November 4 can be made through:
Curt Hammond  Chief Listening Officer, Pearl Street Communications
519.580.9725 |

Power Workers' Union linked to the "smoking gun" of secret internet campaign

Mike de Souza seems to have been the only journalist who was willing to print this story about the PWU using dirty tactics.

Marketing campaign seeded Internet with 'conversations'

A bold labour union offensive targeting the environmental policies of the Ontario government is being driven largely by a sophisticated marketing campaign that has planted comments to "create online conversations" promoting coal, nuclear and other power options.
The marketing has involved professional bloggers working for M THIRTY, a Toronto-based communications firm, who actively use social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter to simulate or kick-start online conversations with a consistent message promoting the views of their clients. In this case, the Ontario Power Workers' Union bankrolled the campaign during the current provincial election to highlight its opposition to the green plan of Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government, through specially crafted blogs and online social media messages from people who did not always clearly identify themselves as employees of M THIRTY.
M THIRTY acknowledged to Postmedia News that some of its employees' profiles on Facebook did not use real names or were in the process of being updated to include their affiliation with M THIRTY.
But the company said it follows strict rules about transparency in its campaigns. Throughout the campaign, M THIRTY employees have reached out to the environmental movement, visiting online pages that promote cracking down on industrial pollution, to suggest the different approach proposed by the union at its own website,

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Did Hudak's GEA stance cost him the election?

Liberal win doesn't mean all's fine with green energy strategy

The Star
October 28, 2011
Tyler Hamilton

Here's Tyler's take on the role of the Green Energy Act in the Ontario election:

It’s tempting to think that the Liberal win earlier this month was a vote of confidence in the government’s green energy strategy, warts and all.
But one could just as easily argue that the outcome of the election would have been very different if PC party leader Tim Hudak hadn’t taken such an extremely negative position against the Green Energy Act, the feed-in tariff (FIT) program and associated initiatives.
Voters, by and large, are supportive – and many quite proud – of Ontario’s green energy vision. They see that it’s the direction we must take. They also see economic opportunity by heading in that direction, if done properly. For this reason, it appears most voters weren’t prepared to let Hudak hit stop and press the rewind button.
At the same time, the fact that the Liberals only squeaked ahead in the popular vote seems a clear message that the approach behind the vision needs some fixing – and fast.

Tyler then proceeds to propose how the Green Energy Act should be improved.  For the full article, click here.  It's definitely worth a read.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Wind is fair and good. Let's celebrate its wise use

Collingwood Connection
October 03, 2011
Douglas Nadler

"The Province of Ontario is on course to phase out the use of coal by 2014 and has adopted what is probably the single most effective piece of legislation promoting renewable energy in North America.{The Green Energy Act} This kind of action takes vision and know-how and shows the strong potential for Canada to be a world leader in tackling climate change." Excerpt from Nobel Women's Initiative 
The excerpt quoted above is from the eight women Nobel Laureates as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu who sent a letter to Stephen Harper on September 28th asking him to take a leadership role in stopping climate change. Harper has not acted despite having said that climate change is "perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today". Harper is not the only one to realize that there is a monumental crisis happening but is doing little to confront it but yearly tax subsidies worth 1.4 billion are given to the gas and oil industries that directly contribute to climate change. This will have a a tragic effect on the quality of life for all species. Some of the smartest and greatest visionaries-Nobel Laureates- on the planet know that climate change is something we have to act on now. Do the anti-wind advocates know this? Are they acting out of pure self interest and don't care about the vital need to scrap the 20th century vision of more growth through fossil fuels? 

A recent analysis of the three leading Ontario political groups' positions on such issues as green energy, sustainable transportation and climate action, by the highly respected Pembina Institute, shows the Liberal and New Democrat parties far in the lead of Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives. (If the Green Party of Ontario was part of the inquiry I expect it too would score high in its desire to support renewable energy.) In fact there is nothing progressive or conservation oriented about the P.C.'s platform. Please see for a detailed report. Out of eight different catagories related to transportation, renewable energy or climate change action the P.C's received a zero for five areas of concern. The publication states that zero ratings are policies that "would take a step back from the current situation and would lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental consequences." The other three areas were just a step above this reactionary outlook while both the New Democrats and  Liberals were far more progressive with regards to a more secure, Earth-balanced future for Ontario youth. If Canada as a whole cared about its youth, we would start by having a separate ministry for energy and climate change, as does Britain. 

There is a small group of overly zealous people in our area who have latched onto the anti-wind turbine diatribe. The level of hypocrisy in their "platform" and their inane and unsubstantiated views finds me speaking out. After writing over ninety thousand words for these newspapers on Nature and the rights of youth to inherit a healthy planet, it's time to respond. The 'foul wind' (their placards call the wind 'foul')group rarely has any people associated with it under the age of thirty. It is the under thirty age group that will be most affected by the inertia that is being generated by an entitled few. These few rage about foreign corporations, for example Samsung's wind project, coming to Ontario and making big profits. However, in many instances, they continue to support through stock holdings or products, mining, oil and gas multinationals as well as foreign car and cell phone manufacturers who make yearly multi-billion dollar profits. Despite what reactionaries will tell us about "ethical oil", the only true ethical oil is what stays in the ground. 

Ontario citizens are told by the anti-wind group that we'll be subsidising the wind turbines but the Conference Board of Canada tells us that the development and operation of offshore wind energy "would add between $4.8 billion and $5.5 billion to Ontario's economy by 2026 and would add up to 4,400 jobs per year during the construction phase." If we wish to truly save tax dollars and future generations the efforts of this ill-informed 'foul wind' group would be better placed by stopping the obscene billion dollar plus hand-outs given to the nuclear industry by Ontario's government. 

The 'foul wind' group and the P.C's rhetoric say that our electricity prices will rise as a result of the Green Energy Act and demand that the Act is scrapped. This is not in any way a substantial reason for our rising electricity prices; nor are the feed- in- tariffs to blame. "The outcome of the current debate over the GEA will have no meaningful impact on these future price increases, which reflect the inevitable costs of modernizing Ontario's aging electricity infrastructure. However, the choices facing Ontarians today will have an impact on air quality, greenhouse gas pollution, economic diversity and employment." Please see and read "Understanding Ontario's Electricity Prices" and "behind- the-switch" as well as 

The intransigent anti-wind coalition wants to convince us that, all of a sudden, Not In My Back Yard(NIMBYism)is just great and even heroic. They'll take on clean wind and even call it "foul", as well as creating propaganda concerning house prices and neighbor fighting neighbor. They spread spurious information about the Green Energy Act, that I doubt few have read, and which the Nobel Laureates praise. (It should be noted that the Liberal government has placed a moratorium on off-shore wind generation.)The magazine, "On The Bay", takes an extreme pro P.C stance that was blantantly expressed in four separate articles this summer and even states, "Which party you choose to vote for on October 6 will depend on where you stand on the wind issue." (Page 14)This is sheer nonsense and is meant to create division and fear instead of actively working on real issues such as poverty in our area; the Conference Board of Canada recently declared the divide between the rich and poor is growing faster in Canada than even the USA. 

In early September the Toronto Star published a report/poll that mentioned the lamentably small interest of the public in energy matters. This brings us to the heart of this matter: neither the Conservatives nor the 'foul wind' group care about energy concerns for the future. If they did, they would have been protesting against coal-power plants that are known to kill. They would recognize that communication towers kill more birds by fifty to one than wind turbines. Please see I If this group of people were concerned about using our tax dollars they would be protesting the billions already spent on nuclear plants and petition that no new ones are built. 

If we are to incorporate one of the many elements, wind power for example, of the renewable energy matrix, as Germany has successfully done, it is undeniably best for citizens to come together and make wind a real community project instead of complaining about foreign ownership and doing nothing to make it our own. Positive action by voters is urgently needed to resolve the energy crisis. Do something positive by setting up co-operative community ventures that help our youth see a passage through the horrible maze of complacency and hypocrisy that has been manufactured by adults who are more concerned about their aesthetic views of wind turbines (Why not get rid of the hundreds of communication towers that are a deadly blight on our landscape?)than their grandchildrens' right to have a healthy biosphere.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Norfolk turbine fire plan

Simcoe Reformer
October 11, 2011
Monte Sonnenberg

Norfolk Fire & Rescue has a plan in case a wind turbine catches fire, one that does not involve extinguishing the flames.

Rather, the plan is to move in, establish a perimeter and allow the fire to burn itself out.

At Norfolk council Tuesday night, Chief Terry Dicks said there is little anyone can do once a wind turbine catches fire. Most are at least 100 metres off the ground -- too high for conventional equipment to be of any use.

What's more, turbine fires are dangerous. Turbine blades continue to spin until the generating unit is totally burned out. As well, debris falling from the burn zone can travel a long distance before it hits the ground. Towers have been known to collapse, crushing firefighting apparatus in their path.

"That thing up top is as big as a bus," Dicks said. "We don't want to get anywhere near it."

The causes of turbine fires are varied. Lightning is a common cause, as are short circuits and gear box oil failures.

There is a surprising amount of combustible material on top of these towers.

Each blade is made from balsa wood wrapped in fibreglass. With each blade weighing nearly six tonnes, no one wants to be in the vicinity when they fall away from the top.

"It's definitely a high hazard zone," said John Verboom, a community safety officer with Norfolk Fire & Rescue. "They recommend that we don't get within half a kilometre of them."

A total of 48 turbines are located within the Erie Shores Wind Farm in southwest Norfolk. Capital Power Corporation has announced plans to build 13 more in Norfolk in the Nanticoke Industrial Park.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Wes Keller's view of election differs from WCO's

Orangeville Citizen Editorial
October 20, 2011
Wes Keller

Heads buried firmly in the sand

Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) appears to be taking credit for the success of Tim Hudak’s Tories and Andrea Horwath’s NDP gains of 11 at the expense of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Grits in the Oct. 6 election.

As justification, it is excerpting articles from the London Free Press and the Ottawa Citizen on its website, in which the writers have indicated that such is the view of the electorate in at least some ridings.
I’ll not hold myself out as a political analyst but it seems to me that, given an anti- Liberal climate, the Tories should have picked up even more seats that it did in traditionally Conservative rural Ontario.
There’s little doubt that WCO influenced some of the vote in former environment minister John Wilkinson’s Perth-Wellington riding but it has to be kept in mind that he had come under fire over what many viewed as his delay in calling for an environmental assessment of the proposed Melancthon mega-quarry and, before that, his stance (when minister of finance) on the much-hated HST.
Even so, Mr. Wilkinson needn’t be ashamed of his showing at the polls. The electorate mustn’t have been all that angry, as only about half of them bothered to vote. Even then, the former minister came within 631 ballots of winning. PC Randy Pettapiece had 14,282 votes. Mr. Wilkinson had 13,652.
Two other ridings should be of interest in this regard – Scarborough Centre, and Kingston and the Islands, both of which reelected the Liberal candidate.
One might suppose that an anti-turbine electorate would turn out in droves to unseat the minister responsible for the Ontario Power Authority which, at ministerial direction, had recently awarded about 1,800 large-scale wind farm contracts.
Yet only about half (45.51%) of the qualified voters turned up at the polls in Scarborough Centre, and they gave Energy Minister Brad Duguid a clear majority of the vote – 16,150 of 31,477 ballots cast. Tory Carol Williams garnered only 7,630 for second place.
Liberal John Gerretson won Kingston and the Islands handily, with 21,040 votes to NDP candidate Mary Rita Holland’s 10,229. That riding is home to Wolfe Island’s 198 MW wind farm. Less than 47% of the electorate went to the polls.
For the complete editorial, click here.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Chatsworth council continues to block wind turbines

Owen Sound Sun Times
October 20, 2011

Chatsworth council is planning two bylaws to control wind turbine development in their municipality.

Council proposes extending the setback distance between an industrial wind turbine and residence from 550 metres to 2,000 metres.

Council also wants wind turbine companies to have equipment to deal with high elevation fires and rescues. That would mean trucks with aerial ladders and high pressure hoses that could reach the top of the turbines, which are more than 10 storeys high.

Harrison article revisited

On October 3, 2011, we published a reference to  John Harrison's analysis of wind farm economics.  In his article, Professor Harrison attempts to dissuade further wind farm investment in Ontario because he believes that the financial returns are poor and getting worse. 

We therefore posed the question, "Why are sophisticated organizations with long histories of renewable energy development in other jurisdictions continuing to invest in Ontario?".

We promised some follow-up analysis and this is the third and final instalment.  In instalment two, we looked at Dr. Harrison's technique of correcting historical capacity factors for annual wind speed variation.  We demonstrated that his fundamental assumption that wind turbine output varies with the cube of wind velocity wasn't true and therefore its use as a normalizing function is flawed.  We concluded that his normalizing factors could be off by 5 to 10%.

What Dr. Harrison was attempting to do was to remove the year-to-year variations in wind speed and just look at the operational performance of the wind farms.  Just like a high tide can lift all boats, high annual wind speeds can mask poor performance.  The performance factor that he was seeking is called availability.  It's the measure of the potential for a wind farm to generate electrical power.  100% is perfection.  It's analogous to whether your car will start in the morning, blow a tire, run out of gas, be in the garage for repairs, etc.

Since Dr. Harrison didn't have availability data from Ontario wind farms, he attempted to "back in" to the number by taking published capacity factors (i.e. the ratio of actual power produced, divided by the theoretical power produced by a wind farm if it ran 24/7 at full capacity) and normalizing those factors for year-to-year wind variations.

As we proved in the previous instalment, Dr. Harrison made two false assumptions:

1. All wind farms in Ontario experience the same wind in a particular year (he naively chose Toronto as the surrogate for all wind farms in Ontario)

2. Wind farm output varies with the cube of wind speed (it actually varies closer to the square of wind speed)

Based on those false assumptions, Dr Harrison reached the following conclusion:

Typically, the individual Ontario WEGS [Wind Energy Generating System] start within the first year or two at a capacity factor of about 30% (Kingsbridge, on the shore of Lake Huron, is an exception) which then declines. This decline is about 2% per year. This of course augurs very badly for a generating system designed for a 20 year life and with capital funding based upon a 20 year life. 

Rather than trying to correct Dr. Harrison's line of logic with localized wind speed data and actual wind turbine power curves, we went directly to availability data within the wind industry.  Each of the six wind farms mentioned in Dr. Harrison's analysis are unlikely to reveal their individual availability data publicly.  Their ability to maintain a fleet of turbines at top availability is proprietary.

However, we found something even better.  Garrard Hassan is the globally pre-eminent consultant in wind farm design and operational improvement.  As part of their service offerings, they accumulate data from a large number of clients and publish the findings without identifying individuals.  They recently published a report  on the availability of over 100 wind farms in North America.  The key graphic is shown below.

The graphic might be confusing (hint: just follow the purple bouncing ball - it's the average), but the takeaway is that availability suffers in the first year or two as wind farms work through what is called, in the reliability arena, "infant mortality".  That's when installation errors (typically loose wires or inadequate lubrication) are exposed.  However, those errors and weak components are weeded out fairly quickly without a safety issue and the wind farm settles into a very consistent level of availability. 

So, what does this mean for Ontario wind farms?  It means that Ontario wind farms run a close line to a fair return on capital and that power consumers in Ontario can expect them to be viable power producers for many years into the future.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

WCO twists CanWEA response to WCO

We seem to be watching a tennis match of words between WCO and CanWEA about annoyance and health effects.

October 12.  It all started with a report from Global Television on October 12 regarding wind turbines in Ontario.  The report, that ran for 3 minutes, included interviews with three Clear Creek residents plus Magda Havas and Dr. McMurtry, both known opponents of wind.  Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA, was given 8 seconds.

Robert Hornung's quote was:

It's true that [there] the science does show that there is a small percentage of people who can be annoyed by wind turbine sound and that can have potentially indirect health impacts.

October 14. Following the Global report, WCO posted an entry on its web site, written by MA (Maureen Anderson, I believe).

In the web entry, MA excerpted the quote as follows:

In an October 12 interview on Global Television, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), Robert Hornung stated that  “wind turbine sound…can have potentially indirect health impacts”.

MA then attempted to create a linkage between wind turbine annoyance and serious adverse health effects but fails to make any mention of the intensity of noise annoyance.  Both sources that she cites were talking about noise sources that are found near airports, freeways, etc.

CanWEA has consistently claimed that there is no direct link to health effects from wind turbines. That official position statement is now different. Mr. Hornung has admitted many times that people living near wind developments may be annoyed by wind turbine sound. Noise annoyance is recognized by the World Health Organization and Health Canada as an adverse health effect that can lead to stress, cardiac events and morbidity.

October 14. In response to the WCO statements, CanWEA clarified their position in a Press Release.  

The Canadian Wind Energy Association has not in any way changed its position on wind energy and human health.

The balance of scientific and medical evidence clearly concludes that sound from wind turbines is not unique and that wind turbines do not have a direct impact on human health. There are well over 100,000 turbines operating worldwide and hundreds of thousands of people are living and working near and around them, the overwhelming majority of whom have productive and positive experiences.

The association has always acknowledged that a small percentage of people can be annoyed by wind turbines in their vicinity. Annoyance is a personal experience that can be caused by many things and be influenced by many different factors and stressors in a person's life. When annoyance has a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, it is important that they consult their doctor.

As a responsible industry, we are interested in the responsible and sustainable development of wind for the benefit of all Canadians. We will continue to receive and review new and credible information pertaining to wind energy and human health as it is made available.

Please find below a link to a number of reviews of the scientific and medical literature on wind turbines and human health.

October 17: WCO returned the volley with a news release of its own:

October 17/2011-In a dramatic reversal of its long-held position on the risks to human health of industrial wind turbines, the Canadian Wind Energy Association affirmed late last week through a public statement on their website that some number of people will become sick due to industrial wind developments.

CanWEA stated that "a small percentage" of those living next to industrial wind developments will become sick.

“The majority of Walkerton residents did not become sick due to tainted water. The majority of Ontario school children are not allergic to peanuts. However, in both cases the Ontario Government has taken swift action to protect human health” commented Wind Concerns Ontario Chair, Ian Hanna.

CanWEA's recent statements suggest that some level of harm to human health, or collateral damage, resulting from industrial wind developments is acceptable.

“Given this sudden change acknowledging harm to human health caused by industrial wind turbines, CanWEA owes the people of Ontario a straight answer”, added Hanna. He then asked, “How many sick people are too many? How many Ontario families need to suffer before it's time to support full independent studies into the impacts of utility scale wind turbines on human health?”
Significantly, WCO clearly stated that CanWEA had said "that "a small percentage" of those living next to industrial wind developments will become sick."  Take a look at the record and make up your own mind.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

In praise of wind turbines

A close friend from the UK passed this opinion piece on to us.  In a nutshell, the author (Will Self) reminds us that our bucolic rural settings have been created by man over many centuries and that wind turbines are just a natural evolution of that development.

It's a bit long but I encourage you to read it in entirety - with a dictionary for some of the flowery parts.

BBC News Magazine
October 14, 2011
Will Self

The countryside is often a man-made landscape, not a natural idyll, and wind turbines are just part of that tradition, writes Will Self.
When chanced upon unexpectedly the tips of their vast blades appear to pierce the horizon, as if these were the parts of a strange machine arranged seriatim and devised to sew the land to the sky.
Or else, looked at against the setting sun with long cloudy striate streaming behind their propellers, they can invert your entire perspective so that for a fleeting moment you imagine the Earth itself to be the envelope of an enormous airship, being powered through the sky.
Then again, when I've seen them from the window of a car moving at speed and tried to judge their size in relation to some other feature, be it hilltop or church spire, the parallax view will make of them an elegant herd of white-limbed alien creatures bounding over the terrain.
Curious they may be, the wind turbines, and to those of us who remember the landscape before their erection they may always seem a little outlandish. But no-one could reasonably claim they are objectively ugly, any more than they could say the vista of coal-fired power stations that clusters around the Humber estuary is ugly.
Indeed, viewed from across the flat striping of harvested wheat fields, the cooling towers of the Drax, the Eggborough and the Ferrybridge power stations resemble the fat-bellied trunks of baobab trees, their pale concrete bark dappled with the dark shadows cast by the steam clouds belching from their own mouths.
Even the nuclear power station Sizewell B, on the Suffolk coast - which I lived close to for a couple of years - has a strange if minatory loveliness, what with its dully-gleaming white dome, that like the compound eye of Moloch sits atop its iridescent blue plinth.
No, the power stations are not ugly and nor are the great pylons that stride away from them across Britain, their steely forms linked by crackling cables.
The pylons have an irrefutable majesty, and with their heads in the clouds and their feet in the grass, it's impossible not to anthropomorphise them. These giant humanoid figures are clearly the handiwork of smaller humanoid figures, yet this does not make them strangers to our countryside. On the contrary, this is what tells you that they belong here.
Land patterns
It was that arch-conservative GK Chesterton, inveighing against the rural purists of his own era, who said "the artificial is, if anything older than the natural", and that "in the middle of the wildest fields the most rustic child is, 10 to one, playing at steam engines".
He understood intuitively what the work of Oliver Rackham, that great historian of the British countryside, subsequently established factually - that the pattern of land use we see the length and breadth of these isles is as much a human artefact as Stephenson's Rocket.
Rackham estimated that by the time of the Roman invasion the primordial British woodland had been cleared almost to the extent we see today. What further depredation there has been occurred in the post-war period, when hedges were grubbed up and pesticides lain down in furtherance of the monocultures so beloved of agribusiness.
The vista the wind turbine revolves within, whether it be the fens of East Anglia or the bens of the Scots Highlands, is a man-made one. However, that doesn't in and of itself mean that it is unnatural, for we are by no means the only animal on this green Earth to adapt its environment. You might as well describe beavers' dams or termites' mounds as "unnatural".
Indeed, the very idea of wilderness is itself a perverse human invention. A massive category error imposed by the British colonists in North America on a landscape of dispersed woodland and glade that they assumed to be "natural", but which was in fact the result of centuries of concerted Native American management.
Discoveries down under
It was the same in Australia, where the British arrivistes declared the land to be "terra nullius" on the basis that no human hand had mixed its labour with it - and so ripe for their exploitation.
Coming from their own immemorial associations of field, coppiced woodland, dew pond and commons, the British were unable to see the contours of the careful footprint that the Aboriginals' firing of the bush to encourage crops had left, any more than they could appreciate the cultural richness and diversity of this 40,000-year-old oral culture, replete with magic and mysticism. And besides, the British weren't altogether minded to see the Aboriginals as human at all.
But before you shake your head at the hopelessly bigoted attitudes of the remote past, it's worth considering that we have here today, in Surrey and Shropshire and Somerset, colonists of our own who are every bit as blinkered. Yes, blinkered because they cannot understand that the preservation of our countryside demands not a rose-tinted vision of it, but a steely determination to utilise it effectively.
It would seem to me that most of those who energetically campaign against the planting of wind farms in their bosky vales do so not out of a profound appreciation of the dew-jewelled web of life, but merely as spectators who wish the show that they've paid admission for to go as advertised. After all, hardly anyone really lives in the country any more and a mere fraction of the population work on the land.
For the rest, they look upon it from their terraces and their decking, they stroll a few hundred yards across it, and then they get in their off-road vehicles to drive on the road to the nearest town or city, where they sit in an office staring at a computer screen.
I once walked from my house in central London to Newhaven on the Sussex coast. It took me three days and apart from when I was traversing two areas that had been government-mandated as "areas of outstanding natural beauty" - the Ashdown Forest and the South Downs - I saw a mere handful of people in the countryside.
Dream or reality?
For hour upon hour I tramped in splendid isolation - and this in one of the most densely populated regions on Earth. It made me wonder what it is, precisely, that people feel moved to protect in our countryside. Is it its reality, the patchwork of chemically-drenched fields and pay-per-kill pheasant-stocked woodlands interspersed with crowded National Parks? Or is it a bucolic reverie the elements of which have come to them not through direct experience, but the media?
Now the government is intent on changing the planning guidelines so that effectively the presumption will be in favour of the developer. The need, they say, is for more housing and yet street upon street of terraces lie vacant and festering on the outskirts of some of our cities.
Surely, the truth of the matter is that the desire is for more green-field housing because only such habitations have the added-value that ex-urbanites seek and developers can charge for. The aim, it is said, is not only to provide housing but to stimulate growth. Growth, the zeitgeist buzzword that will, with an insistent chainsaw whine chop down and supplant that former favourite, sustainability.
Well, I daresay they will build their new dormitory communities and they will get their growth. The irony being that while the first colonists will doubtless be happy enough to enjoy their view, soon enough they will begin to complain about this or that intrusion into the wilderness. Before too long they will have grown into a community, united in opposition to the very changes that their own new estate was predicated upon.
Perhaps when the entire landmass has been so subdivided that there remains not a single portion that cannot be identified as someone or other's backyard, then, and only then, will the property owners be able to acknowledge after all that there's something really rather beautiful about a wind turbine.
Unfortunately, by then it will be too late because there won't be white blades whirring at the end of the garden, but black clouds belching from the chimneys necessary to power all that rural idiocy.

For the full article click here.  I recommend that you also read the comments, ranked by "Highest Rated".

Friday, 14 October 2011

WCO president steps down

Net News Ledger
NNL Staff
October 12, 2011

THUNDER BAY – Wind Concerns Ontario President John Laforet is stepping down. In a letter to members, Laforet writes, “It has been a real privilege working with you as President of Wind Concerns Ontario for more than two years. Together we’ve done amazing things. Seventy-eight municipal councils that represent more than two and a half million Ontarians have moved motions of moratorium calling on the government of Ontario to stop ‘foisting’ industrial wind developments on communities until proper independent health studies have been done to inform safe setbacks and local democracy is restored”.
The group has claimed success in the recent Ontario provincial election. “Our activism has blocked the approval of all but one project since the implementation of Ontario’s Green Energy Act regulation for over two years. There are more than sixty groups fighting the fight locally around Ontario and together we helped defeat eleven members of the Ontario Liberal caucus in last week’s election, including Environment Minister John Wilkinson”.
Laforet says that the focus and the fight is going to be different now. “The fight that lays ahead is different than the fight we’ve successfully fought so far. Now is an excellent moment for new ideas and new leadership to continue our success together. Therefore today, I have given my resignation as President of Wind Concerns Ontario to Ian Hanna who has served as Vice President and Chair of Wind Concerns since March. I am happy to let you know that Ian Hanna will be leading the way forward and trust that together we can reach new heights”.
In Thunder Bay Atikokan, all three candidates in the provincial election campaign opposed the Big Thunder Wind Farm project.
To access the article, click here.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Health professionals support renewable energy

EMC News
Phil Ambroziak
October 6, 2011

Health professionals come together to support wind and solar power

Earlier this year, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) launched a campaign in support of green energy. Now, in the midst of the provincial election campaign, CAPE is kicking things into high gear in an effort to educate both politicians and the public about the dangers of coal as a source of energy. 

.....According to CAPE, close to 150,000 Ontarians were made ill by coal in 2010 (many as a result of respiratory issues) and close to 300 deaths per year can be attributed to the burning of coal as an energy source.

"We're a non-partisan organization - as doctors and other health professionals, CAPE members are simply concerned about the health of people and of the environment," Forman remarked. "Having a large group of health professionals supporting this also adds a lot of credibility to the cause."

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

MPAC studies show properties not devalued by wind farms

Postmedia News
Linda Nguyen
October 4, 2011

Ontario Assessment appeal based on nearby wind farm could blow across Canada


The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which has standing in the case and is responsible for valuing homes, says its recent studies and similar ones done in the U.S. do not show that home values are connected to nearby wind farms.
"When wind turbines first started to emerge on the horizon in Ontario . . . we looked at the sales of the properties in proximity to wind turbines to see whether or not we see a trend being affected," said Rose McLean, director of legal and policy support for the Crown corporation. "And so far we haven't seen that."
Other jurisdictions in Canada have also reported no drop in these property values, she said.
Since early 2010, MPAC has reviewed the sales of 20 properties near wind farm projects and found no lowering of value.

For the full report, click here

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ontario appeal court overturns property value lawsuit

Globe and Mail
October 07, 2011
Jeff Gray, Law Reporter

Ontario appeal court overturns Port Colborne Inco ruling

The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned a lower-court decision that would have forced mining giant Vale SA (VALE-N24.450.220.91%)
 to pay $36-million in compensation to residents of Port Colborne, Ont., for decades of pollution from an Inco nickel refiner.

In a ruling released Friday, a three-judge appeal court panel tossed out a Ontario Superior Court decision in a class action filed by residents of the town demanding compensation for the alleged effect of the pollution on their property values.
The original July, 2010, lower-court ruling was seen as unprecedented, and critics said it could have opened up potential liabilities for countless industries near residential areas.
The appeal judges overturned the lower court’s finding that the Inco nickel refinery constituted a “non-natural” use of land. The appeal ruling says the plaintiffs in the case did not prove the refinery was operated in a dangerous or unusual way.
“To the contrary, the evidence suggests that Inco operated a refinery in a heavily industrialized part of the city in a manner that was ordinary and usual and did not create risks beyond those incidental to virtually any industrial operation,” the judges write. “In our view, the claimants failed to establish that Inco’s operation of its refinery was a non-natural use of its property.”
The appeal court also disagreed with the way that the lower-court judge calculated the impact on the town’s property values. And it awarded Brazil-based Vale, which bought Inco in 2006, $100,000 in legal costs for the appeal.
Lawyers for the town’s residents, who fought a battle over the nickel pollution for more than a decade, could not be reached immediately for comment. Nor could a spokesman for Vale.
The original ruling issued last July, raised eyebrows. Some legal observers said it could mean more U.S.-style “toxic tort” class-action lawsuits against polluters, the kind of confrontation dramatized a decade ago in the Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich. Critics said the judgment should be “terrifying” to any industry with a smokestack, as it could expose to massive liabilities even companies that follow all environmental rules.
Despite the multi-million-dollar award in the original ruling, Inco was not found to have been negligent or to have broken any laws. Inco had stopped refining nickel at its Port Colborne plant in 1984. The company’s lawyers argued in their appeal that the nickel residue has not damaged people’s health or their properties. While the health effects of the nickel fumes that came out of its smokestacks have been hotly debated among people in Port Colborne, the plaintiffs dropped their health claims from the class action.