Our mailbox has, over the last few days, become a battleground for the pro and anti wind groups here. First we got an anonymous mailer (from a ‘neighboor’) attesting that anticipated benefits to an area resulting from wind development might not materialize now that the ‘Green Energy’ bill has removed local zoning controls. Then today we got another anonymous mailer — the first part of an article about a Wolfe Island couple who were counting on the $10,000 per year for each of four wind turbines they allowed on their buffalo farm. I am sure there will be more of these coming.
There is a certain sadness to both of these mailings that goes to one of the central problems of the controversy. In Canada, as other places, wind project development has proceeded in an adversarial way. Developers quietly creep through a community and swear everyone to secrecy. Neighbor is pited against neighbor right from day one. People naturally resent things being done to them without their knowledge — and the change to the character of a quiet rural area by populating them with 500 foot tall structures is significant, to say nothing of the destruction of property values, wildlife habitat damage and health concerns that accompany these projects.
And of course there are the economic issues for the farmer. I personally decry the decline of local agriculture — it makes me sad to drive through the area and see mile after mile of once thriving farmland now fallow (or worse) because it was more profitable for some to bring food in from California and Chile rather than grow it locally. This still seems insane and hopefully can be reversed someday, however reasonable it may seem in some Montreal central purchasing office.
So leasing some land to a developer to put up wind turbines seems like a good idea, and probably is — except for the collateral damage, mentioned above. Plus those folks who bought land for retirement homes from those same farmers are not going to be feeling too friendly when they find that their new home is overshadowed by a huge monolith, or dozens.
Wind turbines by themselves are probably not a bad idea, but parking them in the middle of a populated area, especially a major stop on a bird migration route, probably is. But what really poisons the well is the sneaky and adversarial way the whole thing is being done. And the anonymous mailers are merely the latest attack of a long, slow process that has the potential to tear the community apart. I hope it fails.