Weighing in on wind energy

Wind farming is blowing up controversy in many parts of Ontario these days.

On the one hand, it is being promoted as a green alternative to traditional energy sources that we desperately need to lessen our dependence on less environmentally-friendly supplies we have been relying on to date. It is also credited with bringing good jobs to rural areas struggling with employment issues, keeping people in small communities and maintaining infrastructure.

Detractors complain about noise and the specter of decreased real estate values for properties near a development, and raise concerns over potential human health impacts resulting from the turbines.

Last week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Arlene King, waded into the fray by releasing a report where she concluded that she found no direct cause of negative health impacts as a result of wind farm developments. You can read more about her report here.

In their monthly newsletter, the consulting team at Synthesis Agri-Food Network took a look at wind energy as well, examining the issue and commenting on potential lessons that could be learned from the controversy.

To me, there’s a big sense of deja vu as I follow this issue. The heated debate over wind farms reminds me a lot of a similar movement in various Canadian provinces about ten years ago that was focused on opposing the construction of hog barns.

We saw the same arguments used at emotionally charged public meetings, the same calls for a halt to further construction, the same heated letters to the editor.

Pig farmers eventually banded together to counter the negativity by telling their side of the story – and the economics of pig farming eventually naturally halted the need for further expansion – but it will be interesting to see how this issue continues to unfold.

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