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Excellent Letter to the Editor — Setbacks remain a concern for wind turbines

David Libby — Chatham Daily News — June 26, 2012

Sir: Re: “Tempers blow, profanity flows at turbine gathering,” in the June 15 Chatham Daily News.

There is a very large number of industrial wind turbines currently in operation or planned for Chatham-Kent. There will be more than 500 turbines built over an area that will cover about half of the municipality.

A setback is the minimum distance that turbines can be built from people’s homes. The story mentions a minimum setback of 550 metres. The wind industry and the Ontario government often use the 550-m. number. The Ontario Ministry of Environment’s own website states “Our setback of 550 m. for wind projects is the most stringent in North America and is based on the most up-to-date science.”

Section 47.3 (1) Ontario Environmental Protection Act states a very different set of setback distances. The act states 550 m is considered the absolute minimum setback for a very small wind farm – five turbines or less and a noise output level of 102 decibels.

This section also shows when a 107-decibel level is reached or the number of turbines in a wind farm increases, the setbacks must be increased quite dramatically to 950 m-1,500 m to provide protection to the people living near the turbines.

There are also many jurisdictions all over the world that consider a 1,500 m setback inadequate. Setbacks of 2,000 m to 3,000 m or more are required in are places such as the State of Oregon, where a setback in various areas is 3,219 m (two miles) to a rural home. Various areas of the State of Maine see setbacks of 1,200 m to 2,400 m. Parts of Austria – 2000 m. France – 4,900 m.

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