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I am writing to express strong opposition to the proposed project to place 20 massive wind turbines in and around the community of Malpeque and an additional 21 turbine sites in the vicinity of Spring Valley. I understand that the proposed project by J.D. Irving, Ltd. and Cavendish Farms would potentially be scheduled to go online as early as August 2003 with the purchase of turbine generators. Construction of the first huge 65 meter towers would be in September 2003 and the remaining 40 or more in 2004.
This proposal to locate an industrial wind turbine complex in and around the communities of Malpeque, Baltic, Indian River, Hamilton, Spring Valley and beyond is inappropriate, as it would be if placed in any community. Aside from the obvious visual blight on the land that these huge machines represent, there are multitudes of other permanent adverse impacts on these communities that would be expected to occur. These include turbine noise and resulting potential adverse impacts on human health and well-being. Although wind power proponents deny that this is a problem with today's technology, ongoing complaints registered in communities around the world unfortunate enough to be located near these complexes tell a different story. It is also important to note that even the U.S.National Renewable Energy Laboratory continues to conduct studies on wind turbine noise acknowledging that this problem continues and remains a limitation to locating wind turbine complexes in and around communities. Clearly noise, particularly low-frequency noise remains a problem and has been clearly associated with stress-related illness, especially in the most susceptible populations, children and the elderly.
There are also safety issues when turbine locations are proposed to be located as close as15 meters from adjoining property boundaries and only 50 meters from roads. The phenomenon of blade icing in our northern climate is common and the possibility of potentially injurious flying ice from blades, an all too real risk. No community anywhere should be exposed to these risks of human health and safety and there is no need to locate turbine complexes in close proximity to communities in any event. There are plenty of other viable options which should be preferred for this project.
The project proposal states that the reason for locating this wind turbine industrial complex in the Malpeque community is principally because J.D. Irving, Ltd. owns a significant parcel of land there and that it would therefore be easier to proceed with construction with the addition of a few leases on adjoining properties. In other words, it would be more convenient for the proponent to place the project in Malpeque than to consider other options. I don't think matters of convenience should be viewed as being at all sufficient enough to expose an entire population of people including many tourists to potential risks of health and safety.
There is also the matter of potential avian disturbance, injury, and mortality in this turbine field. Malpeque is blessed with a large native and migratory bird population and is a major staging area for Canada geese and migratory ducks on the Atlantic flyway. It is also home to an endangered species, the Piping Plover. The resulting potential negative impact on these populations is unknown. No site-specific studies have been done at Malpeque. It is not sufficient to attempt to extrapolate data from other sites in an improper attempt to justify turbine construction in this very sensitive environmental site.
As stated in the Bird Studies Canada study of wind turbines and impacts on birds at North Cape, P.E.I., "the most important step that can be taken to avoid future adverse bird interactions is to locate facilities based on careful siting studies and away from critical habitat", and "most studies seem to reach the same conclusion : impacts are not likely to be significant if wind turbines are located in areas of poor habitat, low bird densities and without significant populations of susceptible species of high conservation importance". This same conclusion seems to be shared by the National Audubon Society, an organization that supports responsible wind project development, when it stated "responsible wind development means conducting site surveys and impact studies that minimize the threat of bird collisions, and siting wind plants away from large raptor habitat zones and critical points along migratory pathways" (http://www.renewwisconsin.org/windfarm/audubon.html). Clearly Malpeque doesn't meet any of the criteria for a suitable site and the P.E.I. government should heed the results and conclusions of its own studies.
There are many other issues of major importance pertinent to this project including but not limited to adverse economic impact on tourism, potential soil and water aquifer disturbance and contamination and adverse health consequences of turbine blade strobe effects (a major issue in site planning in most European countries) to name just a few. However, all of these issues point out that wind turbine complexes should not be located in communities and I strongly urge the P.E.I. government to reject this proposal for Malpeque and pursue other possibilities that don't involve intrusion into any community.
Premier Pat Binns
Mr. Jamie Ballem (P.E.I. Minister of Environment)
Mr. Philip Brown (P.E.I. Minister of Tourism)
Mr. Elmer MacFayden
Mr. Chester Gillan
Mr. Mike Currie
West Prince Graphic (weekly)