What’s With Anti Wind Farmers?

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wind turbine protest

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Long before we even knew we could capture the Sun’s rays to power our gadgets, someone clever discovered the power of the wind.

Windmills were used as early as 200 BC in what is now known as Iran (back then it was Persia) to grind grain. They began popping up in Europe during the Middle Ages, in England in the 11th or 12th centuries, and by the 14th century the Dutch were using them to drain areas of the Rhine delta.

The first wind turbine made its debut in July 1887 in Scotland, and mere months later in Cleveland, Ohio – of all places. The first wind turbine to be connected to a utility grid for mass power generation was in the United Kingdom in 1951.

Since then, we have been using the wind to power our homes and offices across the globe.

So what’s with the anti-wind farmers?

In Canada’s largest province, Ontario, south-western rural residents have been blocking roads, marching with picket signs to protest the provincial government’s decision to place wind farms in their neighborhoods.

“Stop the Wind” read some of the many signs being carted around by the protesters – some on tractors – as they blocked a major highway in the area. How they intend the government to “stop the wind” remains to be seen.

Seriously, they claim that large-scale wind turbine facilities are an eye soar, are noisy, and lower local property values around the wind farm. They also claim we need the land to grow food.

Could these anti-wind farmers be the start of the anti-environmental movement?

Anti-wind farm protests have occurred just about everywhere politicians place them, in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Are nuclear power plants, with their enormous concrete domes any less of an eye soar? What about coal-fired power plants, with their tall smoke stacks coughing up stinky sulphur-smelling swirls of smoke? Would you rather live next to one of those?

Wind turbines don’t give off any pollutants, have no hazardous bi-products – like radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant – and some have even commented that the low hum sound the turbines make in the wind are peaceful, and soothing.

Though sounds and sights are individualistic opinions – one person’s art is another’s junk.

The real issue here isn’t whether or not wind power is better for the planet – academics, scientists, politicians; even the suits and ties behind big business have all gone on the record promoting alternative green sources of energy, such as solar and wind power.

The problem is our old friend Mr. NIMBY.

Perhaps you met Mr. NIMBY before?

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) was a term coined in the 1980’s by a British politician for people that don’t want something built close to their homes or businesses. It has been used extensively to refer to residents that don’t want a landfill site in their neighbourhood, but our friend, Mr. NIMBY appears to have reared his ugly head once again, this time over wind turbines.

No one wants a garbage dump in their backyard, or even a nuclear power plant. And it makes sense that some wouldn’t want a wind farm in their field of view either.

But as our population continues to grow and cities and towns expand, we’ll need more of the supporting infrastructure in place to accommodate this growth. This means, we’ll need more waste water/sewage facilities, more garbage and recycling facilities and more power generation facilities.

Given the choice, I’d rather look out my window and see a bunch of wind turbines off in the distance, instead of a giant nuclear power plant, a coal-fired power plant, or a landfill site.

It might not be as pretty as the hundred acre wood, but it sure beats waking up to the smell of sulphur or rotting trash.

9 thoughts on “What’s With Anti Wind Farmers?”

  1. I am going to say this anyway because I have an open mind. First I have nothing against solar and wind, they are an important part of a balanced supply mix. However, each electricity source has its pros and cons. Seeing as the article is about NIMBYism, I’ll point out one nuclear plant powers millions of home and only a handful of people need to look at it in their back yard. However, with wind and solar a significant portion of those million people will have to look at them in there back yard, and those who don’t will have to look at a gas plant that’s on standby. Furthermore, nuclear in Ontario doesn’t face as large of a NIMBY problem, in fact all of the nuclear comunities are very supportive of their facilities. There are alway people don’t support but these are usually the minority. Nuclear plants in Ontario are not run by boggymen corporations, they are run by people who truly believe they are doing the environment a favour and providing an essential modern commodity. Radioactivity is managed at all sites better than you probably manage your trash at home. Furthermore, I don’t understand peoples demonization of radioactivity, yes you have to respect the potential for harm, but radioactivity is the essence of life, we live in a radioactive universe it is around us all the time and we wouldn’t be alive without it. If you are lucky enough to live in the country look out at the evening sky and ask yourself what is behind that beautiful display of twinkles in the sky.

  2. —Stephana Johnston (Clear Creek, Ontario, Canada)
    The tiny community of Clear Creek/Cultus/Frogmore Ontario (Canada) consists of approximately 140 houses and 18 Vestas 1.65 MW wind turbines. The turbines and homes are all jammed within a 3 km radius.
    In the summer of 2009, approximately 70 residents reported they were being affected by the turbines’ relentless pounding. Here is a “back of the envelope” report on what has transpired in this community since 2009:
    » One successful suicide. (The woman’s home was subsequently purchased at a “fire sale” price by a marijuana growing operation.)
    » One unsuccessful suicide, with that individual simply leaving.
    » The house next to mine was abandoned by the couple who had been living there, and it was subsequently torched by an arsonist.
    » Between 6 and 9 houses have been abandoned.
    » There are approximately 8 vacant houses with “for sale” signs out front.
    » There are approximately 7 occupied houses with “for sale” signs out front.
    » Two individuals have been placed in long-term care by their families. (One of these people was found wandering 15 km from home at 3 am).
    » One pregnant woman lost her baby in the 2nd trimester.
    » One person died after valiant intensive care for 3 months.
    » One person experienced a heart attack.
    » One person suffered a stroke.
    » 3 individuals had heart bypass surgery.
    » An unknown number of families have silently folded their belongings and moved away.
    Where in the world have so many adverse effects taken place in such a tiny community (3 km radius, approx. 25 sq km) in such a short period of time (45 months)?
    Like many others, I’m an Industrial Wind Turbine refugee looking for an affordable place to sleep, returning to an unsellable house for laundering, showering, evening meal prep, using the land telephone line and computer, always aware of the need to leave to make it to the sleeping den in a bunkhouse at a forestry camp 28 km away from this toxic house.
    Knowing that change is the one “constant” in life, I look forward to the end of the wind turbine insanity and a return to global rationality.
    Editor’s note: Another resident, and victim of WTS, living in the Clear Creek/Cultus/Frogmore windplant has added this addendum:
    » 2 more people, different households, both became diabetic. One had an amputation. Both died.

    • Clearly, this is a tragedy for those involved, but it’s a non sequitur to blame wind turbines per se.

      The responsibility lies entirely with the planning authorities, who allowed the turbines to be placed in such close proximity to a residential area. This should never have happened. In a democracy, they should be voted out of the job for incompetence.

      There are wind farms on the hills around my home and more are planned, but they are only audible if you’re walking or riding within 400 metres. I like to see them, whereas dense commercial forestry has spoilt this area for decades.

      An incessant tyre roar from a trunk road 400m away, drowns out the sound of the waterfall a stone’s throw from my door. Residents were paid statutory compensation for the loss in property values.

      Some say their blood pressure is raised by the sight of turbines, 12 miles out to sea, but one can only conclude that they’ve lost touch with reality.

      • That’s evasive nonsense for the most part. You’re pushing the myth of endless other places left to spoil. The planet is finite and there are only so many places you can put those ugly sticks. If conflicts were avoidable they wouldn’t be happening over and over! Don’t you get it? It’s like saying there are ways to carefully site clearcuts that don’t affect forests, and that’s no rough analogy since many trees are permanently cut for tower clearances and roads.

        The suggested “solutions” of ruining remote mountain areas in places like Maine (which require destructive transmission lines) or putting them impractically far offshore hasn’t panned out either. You must lack aesthetic values if you think a visual gauntlet on the open ocean is acceptable, considering how many would need to be installed. But any number of wind turbines aren’t going to solve the fossil fuel problem anyhow.



        • Calm down friend (of the Earth?). There is neither evasion nor myth in my comment. It is entirely factual and rational. My community benefits from the windfarms and their impact on nature is minimal. The coal-fired power station on the coast at Aberthaw has caused far more damage.

          You offer The Worst-Case Fallacy. 144: “A logical fallacy by which one’s ‘reasoning’ is based on a completely imaginary worst-case scenario rather than on reality.”

          You could try asking the people of Japan if they’d prefer marine energy to nuclear?! I know your closed mind will dismiss anything that disputes your views, but make an effort to read the three comments and follow the links provided:-

          I used to ride up the peaceful country lane at the head of my valley. It no longer exists. In its place is the gigantic scar of an open-cast coal mine. There are no nimbys of your ilk around here!

  3. That’s right Mike, probably “hobby farmers”. Last time I checked in Lambton County, Bruce County, Huron County there are plenty of real farmers that want nothing to do with these multi national wind organizations. Give up your land rights for up to 40 years, nope. You want to build a silo and expand your barns, uhhh NOPE, not if you have a contract. The whole way this program has been rolled out is a joke, companies coming into our communities and suing municipalities, individuals because we see the truth of what is happening. The fun is just about to begin with the inefficient, unreliable, intermittent wind turbines. Run the numbers, 25% efficiency, this fiasco will be exposed. Rural Ontario will not be silent and stand by as our communities get destroyed by a handful of greedy corporations.

  4. Thanks for a great piece Jordan. Good to hear another astronomer speaking out!
    Re-sale value only matters to folk who are not committed to the community and not dependant on the land and elements for their incomes. Farming is under enough stress and should be encouraged to wind farm.
    As far as I have been able to see there is no medical research (independent studies in Finland , Sweden, UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada to start) demonstrating health hazards. indeed there is good evidence that the effects reported only begin once anti farmers and climate denialist ideas enter communities. I have no doubt that if I had those views, I would get stressed if I could not keep them out and see a rational perspective.
    Planners working for our elected bodies must engage communities with the benefits, be clear about the likely zones of avoidance and build sustainable electricity grids and markets where both citizen and utility low carbon electricity can be shared.
    Growing evidence from Germany and Australia demonstrates that wind and solar reduces peak summer usage by reducing spot price, reducing the carbon load so that we can as communities and nations move towards a low carbon future. There is of course an individual benefit for all #cictizenrenewables to reduce their utility costs, whether they are deniers, nimbys or responsible citizens.
    I saw that Scotland generated over 40% of its 2013 power from renewable sources. Use of renewables is starting to get real economic traction. Next steps to refocus our agricultural economies on soil carbon conservation and health!

  5. People dislike wind turbines for most of the same reasons they dislike urban sprawl, and wind turbines are the most visible form of it now. They spoil the countryside to serve cities, mostly. Modern turbines can’t be compared to older uses of wind on a much smaller physical scale. Today’s models are absurdly large and ruin scenery in an unprecedented way, with typical locations undeveloped by older energy sources. Viewsheds are affected for dozens of miles in any direction, along with night skies (red lights).

    A harsh contrast to rural surroundings is unavoidable and can only be softened with propaganda. The sneaky way out of the aesthetic problem is to claim that they’re “beautiful,” as if the scenery that used to exist was expendable. Anyone who says they’re beautiful needs to be asked how MANY it would take for them to realize that too much scenery is being spoiled. There were over 250,000 at last count, globally. When does the “beauty” stop and what places should we never have to view them from?

    There are many other issues, including the noise (denied by devious wind-pushers) and the growing number of birds and bats that will keep dying. Bats are getting the brunt of it and are actually drawn to them. Technological scarecrows can’t protect open flyways. Wind power on today’s scale defies too many environmental tenets to be green, and it doesn’t consistently generate enough power to justify its damages (it never would for some of us).




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