WPD White Pines: Life in South County may never be the same
Here is what you need to know about the effects of WPD’s White Pines wind turbine project on health and property values. Its effects on the natural environment will be dealt with elsewhere.
Based on experience in Ontario and beyond, WPD’s White Pines wind project will make life miserable for many South Marysburgh and Athol families due to the adverse health effects of low frequency sound and infrasound from nearby wind turbines. And it will likely result in substantial declines in property values and extended selling times for all homes in the area.
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT
Phase 1 – 29 turbines spread over 60% of South Marysburgh. The White Pines project will include 29 wind turbines spread over 60% or more of the land area of South Marysburgh, plus eastern Athol. Residential areas most affected will include Lighthall Road, Walmsley Road, Royal Road, the village of Milford, South Bay, Little Bluff, Gravelly Bay Road.
Phase 2 – Increase to 74 turbines? Based on the original two-phase project plan for White Pines, and the fact that options were obtained on more than 50 properties, it is expected that WPD will add Phase 2 if Phase 1 is approved – another 45 turbines, bringing the total to 7 turbines. This would make White Pines 8 times the size of Gilead’s Ostrander Point project.
ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS
A 550-metre setback is inadequate. Recently published medical research from sources worldwide, and self-reporting by individuals in Ontario and elsewhere, show that a 550-metre minimum setback for wind turbines is inadequate to protect human health.
Inadequacy confirmed by Kent Breeze ERT. Quoting from the 2011 decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal for the Kent Breeze wind project: “This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”
A 2-km setback is required. It is the consensus view of researchers concerned about wind turbines and health that people living within 2 km of a wind turbine will be at significant risk of adverse health effects and that, therefore, the minimum setback should be at least 2 km.
Map of 2-km Turbine Risk Zone. The accompanying map of WPD’s White Pines project shows the 2-km Turbine Risk Zone (TRZ) surrounding each turbine, and the total area TRZ resulting from all 29 turbines in Phase 1, including areas of overlap. As shown by the map, almost all of the homes in the area will be within the 2-km TRZ of at least 3 turbines, and as many as 12.
Who will be affected? As is the case with motion sickness, it is impossible to predict in advance who will be affected by low frequency sound and infrasound, and to what extent. However, the greater the exposure to turbines (more and/or closer), the greater the likelihood of experiencing medical symptoms and/or their intensity.
How many will be affected? Within the total area TRZ, medical research suggests that at least 20%, and possibly 40%, of residents will experience adverse health effects from low frequency sound and infrasound, ranging from mild to severe to abandonment of the home.
Annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance. The most notable effects will be annoyance (in the medical sense) and stress during the day, and sleep disturbance at night. These effects are well-recognized as indirect causes of serious medical conditions, including heart disease and cancer, when experienced over extended periods.
Other serious symptoms. In addition, some residents will experience one or more of: headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability, vertigo, tinnitus, heart palpitations. These symptoms generally disappear when the person leaves the area, and recur when the person returns.
No relief indoors. Low frequency sounds and infrasound carry over long distances and are not blocked effectively by walls, so there will be little relief indoors. In fact, the effect may be greater indoors than outdoors due to sympathetic vibrations of walls, floors or ceilings. This effect is analogous to being inside a house and hearing bass rhythms (but not higher frequencies) from a neighbour’s stereo played loudly.
Property value losses. Within the total area TRZ, it is expected that property values will decrease by 20% to 40%, due to concerns of potential purchasers about adverse health effects and reduced enjoyment of property. To illustrate, in the Melancthon-Amaranth area of Ontario, wind developer Canadian Hydro Developers (now Transalta) purchased four properties from homeowners threatening to sue over health problems, and subsequently resold them at an average loss of 35%.
Longer time to sell. The time required to sell properties in the area will undoubtedly be much longer, perhaps extending to a year or more. In extreme cases, properties may be unsellable at any price.
New and renewal mortgage uncertainty. It is possible that banks will reduce the maximum loan amount allowed on renewal of existing mortgages, and on new mortgages, in respect of properties located in the vicinity of wind turbines.
Effects being seen now. Some real estate agents are already reporting an unwillingness by potential purchasers to consider properties in South Marysburgh.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THREAT
While Gilead’s Ostrander Point 9-turbine project has generated a huge amount of opposition (and for good reason), WPD’s White Pines 29- to 74-turbine project is a considerably greater threat to human health, property values and the natural environment. If this project is built, it will create a permanent wind turbine ghetto in the southern area of the County. Life in South County will never be the same.
- The 9 turbines of Gilead’s project (located west of Ostrander Point Road) are not shown on this map.
- Thanks to South Marysburgh resident Orville Walsh for the Turbine Risk Zone map.