Appellants state their case at Armow Wind appeal hearing
By Liz Dadson
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Kenneth and Sharon Kroeplin of the 7th Concession of Kincardine, presented their witness statement at the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing, Monday morning in Kincardine.
The pair launched an appeal Oct. 23, against the proposed Armow Wind Class 4 wind facility, a 92-turbine, 180-megawatt industrial wind development in Kincardine. It was approved by the director of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) through the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process, Oct. 9.
In her opening statement, the appellants' counsel, Asha James, said she will provide evidence from four post-turbine witnesses who have all experienced adverse health effects from living near wind turbines.
Three of the four abandoned their homes due to these adverse health conditions.
Also providing evidence will be Heather Pollard, district supervisor of the Owen Sound MOE office, regarding wind turbine noise complaints received by that office. Plus, evidence of non-compliance by the Enbridge wind project which continues to operate.
James will bring forward Dr. Philip Bigelow, part of the University of Waterloo research chair, providing evidence of wind turbine noise studies undertaken by the research chair and some preliminary results and documents.
Another witness is Rick James, an acoustician, who will bring evidence of the deficiencies in the Armow Wind noise assessment report.
Asha James said that on the basis of the evidence provided by the appellants, the tribunal will see there is no other explanation for the adverse health effects, than the proximity to wind turbines.
"Wind turbines cause harm to human health," she said, "and if this project is allowed, it will violate the charter rights of the appellants."
Danielle Meuleman, counsel for the MOE director, said she will call three witnesses, including a noise expert, and two in response to witnesses brought forward by the appellants' counsel.
Alexandria Pike, counsel for the approval holder, Samsung Pattern Armow Wind Ontario GP, said the onus is on the appellants to prove that the wind turbine project, when in compliance with REA guidelines, will cause serious physical and psychological harm.
"It's clear that the evidence cannot establish this," she said. "The post-turbine witnesses being called are self-reporting their conditions. It's not appropriate to draw an inference from that evidence."
Pike also noted that Rick James, Bigelow and Pollard are not experts who can draw a link between the wind turbines and harm to human health.
In fact, she said, Pollard's evidence is irrelevant, given the Enbridge project is pre-REA guidelines, which is outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal hearing this case.
Pike said the approval holder is bringing forward three noise experts and two medical witnesses to refute evidence from the appellants' witnesses.
"The approval holder has spent a lot of time and effort designing and modelling this project, and has gone through the consultation process," she said. "The approval holder is confident the project can be operated without any harm to human health."
James then walked the Kroeplins through their witness statement which is on record with the tribunal.
The couple lives on Lot 29, Concession 7, of the former Kincardine Township in the Municipality of Kincardine. They have owned the 100-acre cash-crop farm for 32 years and had built a new house there, into which they moved in 2006.
In the proposed Armow Wind project, the closest turbine to the Kroeplin home is 599 metres away, but there are 44 turbines within four kilometres of their house.
Ken Kroeplin said that in 2006, the previous wind development company (Acciona), asked if it could lease his property for a wind turbine.
"I had concerns because a lot of people were reporting problems with the Ripley wind project," he said, "so I told them I wasn't interested."
The Kroeplins had attended a few meetings about the Ripley project, but because there were no wind turbines nearby, they didn't pay much attention to the health concerns.
However, when the proposal was put forward for Armow Wind, they began to consider the implications of having wind turbines in their neighbourhood.
They attended Kincardine council meetings at which the municipality recognized the need to increase the setbacks between wind turbines and residential dwellings. Council agreed on an 800-metre setback which is a greater distance than the Green Energy Act requirement of 550 metres.
"The wind company ignored council and said it had guidelines from the MOE and it was sticking with those," said Ken Kroeplin.
"When we first voiced our concerns about wind turbines, we were told there would be no problems," he said. "But other wind farms are causing adverse health effects. Do they (Samsung Pattern) have a magic wand so their project won't cause problems?"
The Kroeplins are concerned about property values because before the Armow Wind project was approved, they had several offers on their property, but after the project approval, all interest dropped off.
Other than Samsung Pattern which offered to purchase the property if the Kroeplins cancelled the appeal. The Kroeplins refused, proceeding with the appeal to protect themselves and their neighbours who are not leaseholders.
Sarah Powell, counsel for the approval holder, objected to any references to the offers by Samsung Pattern for the Kroeplins' property, as they carry prejudice.
"When did you receive these offers?" James continued.
"Originally, we made them an offer," said Ken Kroeplin. "We approached them to see if they wanted the property because we were surrounded by leaseholders. They told us they were not interested."
Sharon (L) and Ken Kroeplin, appellants in the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing against the Armow Wind project, stated their case Monday morning, in Kincardine
The Kroeplins rejected the later offers from Samsung Pattern because they were based on the couple cancelling the appeal.
Jeremy Glick, counsel for the MOE director, clarified several dates with the Kroeplins and asked if they were members of the group, HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeshore Turbines).
They said they were members of HALT and yes, they attend meetings of this group.
"At one of those meetings,did you volunteer to be an appellant?" asked Glick.
"No, I was standing in my driveway talking to the president of HALT," said Ken Kroeplin. "We were discussing the Armow Wind project approval and they were looking for a person to volunteer to appeal. I gladly volunteered."
Glick asked if the Kroeplins were also members of the Central Bruce Wind Turbines (it was clarified later that this is Central Bruce-Grey Wind Concerns Ontario), and they said they were.
Glick then asked if they belonged to any other anti-wind turbine organizations?
"These are citizens concerned about turbines," said Ken Kroeplin. "They're not anti-wind turbine, just concerned citizens."
Glick asked if either Ken or Sharon Kroeplin suffers from any pre-existing health conditions.
Both said no, and they have medical records from their doctor which were entered as evidence.
Glick noted the Kroeplins said they had their house appraised twice in 2012, at what value?
Ken Kroeplin said the appraisals were done in April and May - one was for $779,000 and one for $760,000. In July, 2012, they put their house up for sale for $779,000.
"I offered to sell my property to Samsung Pattern but they weren't interested," he said. "Then they offered to buy it at the full value of the asking price if we cancelled the appeal."
"Why did not you accept the offer?" asked Glick.
"I already told you," retorted Ken Kroeplin. The house is still for sale at the same price.
"If you were really concerned about your health, why did not you take the offer and move?" asked Glick.
"The only reason the offer was made was to stop the proceedings we are at today," said Ken Kroeplin. "We would have accepted the offer if they had taken that clause out, but we never heard from Samsung again."
Due to the snowstorm, no other witnesses were able to attend the hearing, so it was adjourned, after several scheduling issues were addressed.
Nellie Rieneveldt, a resident whose health has been negatively-impacted by the Enbridge project, was to speak Monday afternoon, but was unable to reach Kincardine because of the inclement weather.
The hearing continues Tuesday, Jan. 7, when Rieneveldt is slated to speak, followed by Bill MacKenzie, another resident affected by the Enbridge project; and Heather Pollard of the Owen Sound MOE office.
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Monday, January 06, 2014