One feature of the ‘Green Energy’ gold rush that has been going on in Ontario under the current government has been a massive deployment of industrial wind plants. The plot is always the same — a community will be targeted as a site for these things, lawyers and sales guys will quietly circulate among the landowners to lease places for these behemouths under strict conditions of silence and anonymity. When enough property has been leased the applications are put in to Hydro and somewhere along the line the community finds out about it and screams bloody murder.
Nobody in government cares or listens. In fact, the government seems to facilitate the process, destroying bird sanctuaries, nature reserves, retirement communities and just to make sure that none of those pesky local residents slow the process, municipalities are barred from having a say. And while the government rants on about all the ‘green’ jobs that are being created, the daily newspapers and experience from abroad show the side effects are really catastrophic job losses of 2:1 or higher for this subsidized employment program. And the stiff new electricity rates we all pay are encouraging employers to move elsewhere — well done, I am sure.
Here on Amherst Island we are seeing another aspect of the process that I am surprised doesn’t get better press. Land allotments, like much of Ontario, tend to be skinny rectangles — a few hundred feet wide along the road allotment but very deep. What is happening is that the wind company leases a spot on one piece of property for a turbine. But the 550 meter exclusion zone that this creates is mostly on the neighboring land. Those folks have just lost the use of their property as no building permits can be issued inside the exclusionary zone. I read this morning of one family that had 150 acres they had bought for a home and farm stolen in this way. But they get nothing out of the deal and apparently no level of government is interested in even listening to them.
An interesting side point is that the wind farm proponents assert that this is all about property rights and that no one should be able to tell them what to do with their land. I agree completely. The problem is that most of the land reserved by the wind project is not owned or controlled by the wind lessees — but in effect stolen from their neighbors. When these folks have control of sufficient acreage to implement the project without restricting their neighbors use of THEIR land the issue is moot. But that is not how this is being done — and to me this is wrong.
I am curious as to just how much of this is going on in Ontario and why the government allows, even encourages, it to happen? This is not NIMBYism but classic theft right out of some 19th century colonial horror story. Whatever the virtues or vices of the technology may be, these companies should be paying for what they use — especially considering the outrageous tax breaks and incentives being paid to facilitate this unwanted and unneeded source of energy. But clearly the landowners of Ontario are being told to take one for the team and DONATE their land to the process. Just one more example of how wrong this whole program is — despite the glowing praise the government heaps on itself for what has been done.