A mighty wind - Macleans.ca

A mighty wind


Leona Aglukkaq’s request for a Health Canada study of wind turbines wins support from another Conservative MP, this one in Britain.

Andrew Percy says, “Many people living close to these giant wind farms report health impacts including depression, sleep disturbance and behaviour changes and it is important we have a proper study of these impacts. I live opposite a wind farm in Airmyn and whilst it hasn’t affected me, other people do report disturbances.

“I have long believed that we need to set strict limits on how close these farms can be built to properties and last year sponsored a Bill in Parliament to set minimum distances. For the past two years I have also been demanding a cut in the subsidy for on-shore wind.

“Given that the Canadian Government is listening to the concerns of residents living near to wind farms, it seems sensible to me that we should approach Health Canada to make this a joint study. I have written to Ministers asking them to do just that. ”

Previous coverage of the wind farm debate herehereherehere and here.


A mighty wind

  1. No problem. If you don’t like living next to a wind farm, we’ll just replace it with a coal power plant.

    • Yes, it’s a lot less stressful to breathe in coal soot. Lung cancer is such a care-free experience for the thousands it kills every year thanks to dirty electricity generation.

      • Wind/solar are not dispatchable sources of energy and are
        therefore, for the most part, quite useless as a power source.
        Believing wind/solar is replacing coal is akin to believing in
        the tooth fairy. Have you ever wondered why we are currently
        in the process of building so many gas plants? Could it possibly
        have something to do with replacing the coal plants?

  2. I had occasion on Saturday to stay overnight in farm country–wind farm country to be, possibly. It was so damn quiet it was unbelievable! I can believe that stress levels rise due to a wind farm, much like stress levels rise living in a city.

    • I don’t believe there should be any doubt that an unwelcome wind farm within sight would produce stress. Moreover, there should be no doubt that stress has health impacts.

      However, there are lots of other land uses that produce stress. Railways, airports, highways, chicken farms (upwind especially), rendering plants, garbage dumps, roadside bar etc.

      All of these produce stress and likely health impacts on neighbours. However, subject to reasonable zoning restrictions people are generally entitled to do what they want on their land, and it should be noted that no-one has been forced to agree to a windfarm on their property.

      That being said, it is likely that the stress caused by wind-farms is completely in the head of the complainant. Why? The vibration levels and frequencies are not that unusual and many, many people have lived with them for long periods of time. What we certainly know is that no-one has proposed a verifiable mechanism for the low-level vibrations to directly impact health.

      For me the political side of the debate is interesting. Free market loving, quasi-libertarian sorts believe that the GOVERNMENT should FIX the situation by TELLING a law abiding LANDOWNER which agreements are allowed with independent companies. Ronald Reagan would shudder. Of course, their issue is really with the government subsidy but it is a tribute to their flexibility that they are able to flop onto the support wagon of the NIMBY groups.

      • Yup.

      • I don’t know that you can dismiss that many complaints by suggesting everyone is sharing the same “psychosomatic” symptoms.
        Also, having a field full of windmills isn’t really the same as living near one windmill or having the occasional train come by your house. The people who are living close to these windfarms find the noise to be a steady hum that tortures them and makes it difficult for them to sleep. Perhaps it is like a water torture where one drip of water on your forhead is easy to disregard, ten drips are annoying, one hundred drips is irritating, one thousand drips makes you insane. I know that in the hospital we hand out earplugs for roommates of people who snore but they are highly ineffective as snoring is a very deep noise. The noise goes right through the earplugs. The snoring will often drive rational patients to distration because it interrupts their ability to go to sleep and remain asleep. Sleep deprivation creates untold stress.
        What else is telling is that there have not been issues with complaints about windfarms located in Southern Alberta. However, these windfarms are well away from populated areas due to vast areas of empty farmland that surround them.
        As for decisions being made by governments based on no scientific evidence…that is all too common at every level in Canada. In Calgary the city council removed the flouride from the water supply and refused an offer of a consultation from the medical school, deciding on their own that flouride poses a risk to the health of children. In other municipalities, schools have banned WiFi based on complaints from parents of vague symptoms in their children that they attribute to the wireless connection in the school. Even the World Health Organization has posted a “sort-of’ warning about cell phones “possibly” being linked to brain tumors although no evidence has ever been found to support this….oh and the WHO also has a same level warning about eating pickled vegetables (it can possibly lead to esophogeal cancer if your a big fan).

        • Gee, and I thought both StewartSmith and I went to great pains to point out that this isn’t psychosomatic symptoms. Plus, 17 studies have already been done, I understand. You probably have it, it is the sound of snoring and nothing will make it go away. But, just like the train I don’t hear anymore even when they blast that whistle the whole time, you do get used to it. I’m a terrible snorer. Husband guy has complained for years. Only he sleeps through it just fine, and the complaining is simply because I am absolutely perfect in every other way, and he’s got to have something! :)

        • “. Perhaps it is like a water torture where one drip of water on your
          forhead is easy to disregard, ten drips are annoying, one hundred drips
          is irritating, one thousand drips makes you insane.”

          It probably is just like that – a myth.

        • Wow, didn’t know Calgary removed the fluoride treatment… One of the safest and most effective treatments (not to mention dirt cheap) to prevent dental issues…. Also the wifi in schools, WOW… Not like we are constantly being exposed to these level of EM signals, or radio waves. Hell, just put your kid in a lead lined box away from all light….

          Honestly… visible spectrum light has more energy than these EM waves… you might as well say that is causing the problems… ugh

        • “I don’t know that you can dismiss that many complaints by suggesting everyone is sharing the same “psychosomatic” symptoms.”

          Try Googling “African giggling disease”

  3. I recall spending part of my summer holidays as a child at my grandparents’ farm, where the windmill in the barnyard squawked audibly and relentlessly on breezy days. It seemed to me that it was just part of the farm’s soundscape. Everyone had become enured to it and simply didn’t “hear” it. And it was considerably louder than these newfangled hi-tech, low friction contraptions dotting the countryside now.

    • Do realize the difference is that your grandparents could take down their windmill any time they chose.

      • So are you suggesting that the ability to take it down alone immunized them from stress headaches, hypertension, and other maladies reported by those living near much quieter machines?

        Not very persuasive, IMO.

        • I’m saying that if they suffered any of the widely reported negative symptoms associated with windmills, they’d be able to take it down.

      • Hardly relevant. The neighbours of the grandparents were not entitled to take down the windmill.

  4. I have not lived around windfarms, but I have worked very close to them during summer months (port burwell wind farm, ontario, Canada). Most days you cannot hear anything. Windy days you will here a low frequency noise of the blades, but this is easily drowned out by any other noise, unless you are very close, remember these blades are the length of transport trucks after all.

    I understand the possible health effects, though I do think it is slightly exaggerated, the symptoms described seem applicable to almost anything.

    Fund this study, whatever, just build offshore, or in areas without a population. I am for all sorts of energy, but the number one thing that is consistent between all of them is NOT IN MY BACKYARD. We need to accept that this philosophy, will be the end of us.

  5. Funny how Conservatives have no use for science until they think it might favour their cause. Also funny to see those otherwise “fiscally responsible” Cons wasting more of the taxpayer’s money on a study that has already been done many times over globally. Of course this has less to do with the Harper government being concerned about Canadians health and a lot more to do with with wind farms cutting into big oil and coal companies’ profits.

    • Please share with us the names of the Actual Health Studies on people that have already been done. No one has actually done a health study on the people actually living beside them. There have been computer models done, and literature reviews but no real studies. Your assertion about Big Oil is ridiculous. Did you know that the biggest players in the wind industry are companies like Suncor and Transalta. They are quite happy to keep collecting the rich subsidies offered up by Dalton McQuinty etc, from their inefficient WInd Factories.

      • So where is the health and environment studies Harper requested on the on the Northern Gateway pipelines? Oh yeah, Harper has got the JRP doing it, not Health Canada and/or Environment Canada. The JRP is made up of a bunch of old private energy execs and lawyers. No environmentalists. No medical specialists.I am sure they are going to come up with a real unbiased opinion …

        So why is Harper cherry picking? Health studies for wind energy but no environmental and health impact studies on the pipeline? No study to find the cost to the taxpayers for of the cleanup of a spill like Enbridge let happen in Wisconsin?

        And yes, I am very aware that the big oil companies own a great deal of the wind turbines. How else are they going to stunt the progress of the eventual and inevitable takeover of wind and solar power over oil and coal? Similar to the way the big three automakers sat on installing seat belts even though they knew, as we know now, that they could have been saving countless lives all that time, just so they could make more profit.

        Here is what it boils down to; what do you want to see your kids playing the the shadow of? A wind turbine or a nuclear reactor? What do you, your family and neighbors prefer? Solar panels on your houses (making enough energy to power your house completely and then some) or a “clean” coal plant spitting out cancer?

        • What kind of fantasy world do you live in? Turbines
          replacing nuclear plants! Not unless you want to live
          in the dark 90% of the time. Methinks you’ve drank a
          little too much of that green kool aid.

          • Obviously you did not read the entire post before you decided to comment on it. A combination of wind AND solar along with the hydro electric plants we have (that should be up updated to be more efficient) would be more than enough. Turn of the game, put down that beer and do some research. Solar panels on your house will provide enough electricity to power all your house’s need and even have extra that the power company will actually pay you for because the extra power you make would be fed back into the grid. If everyone made their houses energy self-efficient, then your need for huge expensive power plants would be much less. Smart people here and in the USA are investing in these panels and are saving themselves big money. But it is your choice. If you like giving your money to big rich power companies that bend you over the table, hey its a free country. Enjoy it.

          • I would suggest you do a bit of research, a minimal
            amount of which would expose McGuinty’s ‘green
            dream’ for the scam that it is. Agenda 21-follow the
            money trail. I have lived off the grid – a relatively
            spartan lifestyle- unless you have mega bucks to
            invest. For your edification Ontario’s power production
            at this moment is 21300 MW’s of which hydro is 3100 MW,
            wind 30MW’s and solar is negligible. So much for green
            energy. Instead of wasting our tax dollars on this scam,
            I do agee that our tax dollars could have been better spent
            of individual home energy efficiencies.

          • I have no idea what you’re taking about in regard to living off the grid as smart people who invest in solar technology for their homes are STILL attached to the grid. They take power form the grid when they needed but more important, they give back the excess to the grid and Hyrdo will give them MONEY back for it.

            And for your “edifcation”, the reason green power adds so little is directly a result from corrupt politicians like Harper who want to keep us enslaved in high energy prices and fools that staunchly back him up without knowing the facts.

            What sounds cheaper to you? An energy source like coal that has to be continuously mined, extracted, processed, transported and then used to make electricity but only at 45% (global average) efficiency OR a wind or solar generators that after the initial cost of construction, which is far cheaper than coal, oil or nuclear power stations, it is completely profit generating since it uses a FREE source of energy to produce electricity. You do not need to mine, extract or transport the wind. It is always there and always moving and our clever ancestors used it quite efficiently to circumnavigate the entire world.

            I am not a “fiscally responsible” Conservative yet it sounds like a lot of people making a lot of money off of me and other Canadians by using coal and oil. Buy hey its your money. If you like giving to Harper’s buddies, go ahead.

          • Mentioned living off the grid in making the point
            that: (a) I know cost involved (b) I know how
            useless/inefficient green energy is, something
            that you obviously aren’t aware of. If you
            remotely believe that solar/wind energy will
            ever be anything more than a minor contributor
            to our overall energy needs, then you obviously
            do not have a clue. Your fixation with Harper would
            be better transposed to McGuinty as he’s the idiot
            in charge of Ontario’s energy policy.

          • You just keep showing your ignorance the more you reply. Over 15% of my neighborhood has installed solar panels on their homes and I am just about to do the same. The savings are staggering, especially when you combine the use of a hybrid or full electric vehicle. Why? Because the solar panels store enough electricity to run your house and charge your car saving you even more by either using a miniscule amount or gas or not having to use gas at all. The savings more than pay for the system and when it is paid off, all that money that you pay to the oil and gas companies can go right in the bank. The more people that do this will also drive down demand for energy, lowering the costs for businesses.
            I know plenty of companies that would enjoy the benefits of lower energy costs.
            But like I said, go ahead and keep giving all that money of yours to Harper’s oil buddies. He loves you for it.