TORONTO - There's no evidence of negative health impacts from industrial wind turbines used to generate electricity, so there's no need for a moratorium on wind projects in Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.
About 250 people from across the province rallied outside the legislature to ask the province to impose a moratorium on new projects until possible impacts on human health have been studied. They warned McGuinty that the Liberals will pay a political price for not listening.
"This government has ignored our concerns far too long," said John Laforet of Wind Concerns Ontario.
"We're growing, getting bigger every day, and they (will) have one hell of a problem at the ballot box in two years."
Wind turbines have been used for decades to generate electricity without any serious health implications, so Ontario won't postpone or delay new projects, said McGuinty.
"It's not reasonable in the circumstances," he said.
"We're going to have to make some new electricity, and I think one of the best ways we can do that - as long as we do it responsibly - is by harnessing the power of the wind."
The province must rely more on renewable forms of energy so it can completely eliminate the use of coal to generate electricity by 2014, added McGuinty.
The protesters were upset the province was overriding the concerns of local councils across Ontario after dozens of communities passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on the wind projects.
"We know what's happening in this province is wrong. We know the Green Energy Act took away our rights," Laforet said to cheers from the crowd.
"We know this industry is threatening the health of many, that there are many who are harmed and have no recourse, and we're here to say that has to stop."
It's not so much the fact the government is bringing in wind turbines, it's the way they're bringing them in, said Barry Williams of Toronto.
"It's just ramroded through with absolutely no consideration for the surrounding environment," said Williams. "It's just nasty."
The Progressive Conservatives vowed to fight on behalf of those opposed to the wind projects, and said the Liberal government should not override the wishes of local councils who don't want the giant turbines in their communities.
"We were shocked the government would go to that extent to force their agenda onto people," said opposition critic John Yakabuski.
"It is a shame what is being done in the name - they say - of green energy. Quite frankly, it is in the name of a Liberal political agenda and it is wrong."
Ontario has "the most rigorous standards in North America and some of the toughest in the world" for wind turbines," said McGuinty.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid and Environment Minister John Gerretsen also dismissed the concerns of the protesters and said there was no scientific evidence to suggest wind turbines cause health problems.
With Ontario's requirement of a 500-metre setback from the nearest homes, noise from the turbines isn't an issue either, said Gerretsen, who can see about 60 of them off shore from his Kingston home.
"If you live next to the 400 series highways in Ontario, you will be subjected to a lot more kinds of noise than you ever will from wind turbines, from my own personal perception and from the studies that we've done," sad Gerretsen.
The protesters said this wasn't just an Ontario issue but a global one, and noted new groups opposing industrial wind turbines were forming almost daily in places as far away as Japan and Germany.