SIX NATIONS – Six Nations Economic Development (SNED) was before Band Council once again last week to give an update on the two wind turbine projects that Six Nations Elected Council is planning to sign agreements with.
SNED are planning on constructing two wind turbine projects: Gunn’s Hill and Port Ryerse Wind Projects and held two community engagement sessions back in January and February which had a low turnout. According to Six Nations Community Planner, Amy Lickers, 27 community members turned out to both sessions suggesting community members either do not support the project or that they do not know how this project effects them. Despite this, SNED representatives told Council, the community is supportive of the wind projects and that, ‘we should take advantage of the economy.’
District Councillor Bob Johnson told SNED that he was concerned with the low community response. According to SNED, the Gunn’s Hill project will be operated by a company called ProWind and would see 10 wind turbines constructed in Norwich and Oxford County. Despite low community turnout, SNED recommended to Band Council that they, ‘develop a definitive agreement with ProWind and that Chief and Council pass the motion.’ For those Councillors present, 8 were for this motion while 3 were opposed.
According to an article in the Brantford Expositor on March 13, 2014, Six Nations elected council said they are building a community engagement process to keep band members informed about investments made in economic development projects and a trust fund that will collect the proceeds.
Lickers told The Expositor in that article, that Six Nations is getting involved in so-called green energy projects on properties and with parties in the Haldimand Tract and in the larger Nanfan Treaty of 1701. According to Lickers, Six Nations council is negotiating for $1.8 million financing for its 10% equity partnership in Gunn’s Hill Windfarm Inc.’s Feed-In-Tariff 25 megawatt contract which will generate $3 million over 20 years.
Some groups and individuals are concerned that SNED’s plans ignore any potential health risks or the damages these projects are doing to not only the people who have to live with these wind turbines in their backyard but also the animal and bird species who live in these areas as well. One major opposition group that expressed their concerns to Six Nations is the East Oxford Community Alliance. Six Nations will be putting up wind turbines in their neighborhood. Their main concerns included, the ‘unsightliness of the turbines and sound pollution from the turbines,’ in what one resident described as ‘the Wind Ghettos.’
What do we know so far about the negative impacts of industrial wind turbines (IWT) in southern Ontario? One concern is the adverse health effects of IWT’s. Two Row Times took a drive to the shores of Nanticoke via Sandusk Road. From Highway 6 to the end of Sandusk Road, at least 100 IWT’s were counted along the way. Flocks of migratory birds were also seen zig-zagging through these turbines, disrupting their flock formations and coming horribly close to the moving blades.
IWT’s are also placed in close proximity to homes, People who live or work in close proximity to IWTs have experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Some have also felt anger, grief, or a sense of injustice. Suggested causes of symptoms include a combination of wind turbine noise, infrasound, dirty electricity, ground current, and shadow flicker.
IWT’s also have a huge impact on bird species. Back in 2009 a bald eagle, which are on the endangered species list and have been making a steady comeback to Ontario, was killed by the blades of an IWT in Norfolk County. Many bald eagles live along the shores of Lake Erie.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, “Thirty years ago, the Ontario bald eagle population was down to two pairs – and they weren’t reproducing – due to widespread pollution that had poisoned the food chain. Since then, conservation efforts have helped the bird’s numbers rebound. Back in 2010, there were 48 nests in southern Ontario. But in the past few years, green energy efforts have seen dozens of turbines with large rotating propellers go up near the Elgin-Norfolk border where the eagles live and hunt for fish.”
And in January of 2013, a relatively rare eagle nest was found near the site of a planned wind turbine in Fisherville. Leading expert on bald eagles, Jody Allair, at the time, told bureaucrats to protect the nest and move the turbine, but they did the opposite. Allair heads the Southern Ontario Bald Eagle Monitoring Program for Bird Studies Canada. A permit was issued behind closed doors which allowed the wind turbine company to remove the nest.
Other birds have been adversely affected by IWT’s as well including but not limited to geese who are starting to migrate back to southern Ontario as the weather gets milder out.