The Complete Picture

Prince “Turbine” County!

Protecting the Farmer.

Introduction and Overview

It is suggested that industrial wind turbines help put income into the rural economy. In a rural area devoid of other opportunities I agree that the income from energy companies may well be seen as an economic lifeline. This is exactly the point the Mayor from nearby “Wolfe Island” makes about his decision.

I can talk about farming issues because I operate a small organic farm in Prince Edward County with my wife and boys. We plan to specialize in rare breed animals for highest quality meat and other products such as hair, horn, breed protection; ethical animal husbandry, environmental stewardship and consumer / public education. This is because I can see that small family farms, do and will find it increasing difficult to have a cost basis that allows them to find suitable margins in base products, products that are also produced “on mass”  by “super farms” in other location that simply have lower costs and often higher yields per acre. 

Some farms have over the years developed successful agricultural service businesses, and more recently other landowners have taken heed of the past economic warnings and diversified into new markets including – niche crops, wine, organic /  high quality meat, community support produce, holiday and tourism, education, country stewardship projects. In PEC many residents and business’s do buy locally. Others have invested in technology to provide better margins and offer themselves greater market resilience.

It has been suggested that in many cases the wind energy companies canvas farmers in an unregulated manner, often approaching the farmer as opposed to inviting interested farmers to seek further notice. This can obviously catch farmers off guard. 

Many people are easily motivated by the thoughts of financial reward from a project, especially when on the surface the payment looks like easy money. I raise these questions as it is easy to “positively” confirm oneself to the benefits of a positive decision when motivated in such away and thereby overlook other issues that really should be fully taken into account. 

Remember, the promise of money often buys support. But not all land options are taken up. So you could end up supporting something you don’t really want and then find you get all effects without any of the reward!

 

Questions to Council / Energy Companies

 

  • Please can you explain why farmers who claim traditional farming methods produce low yields or who currently do not manage their land (i.e. overgrown)  should be supported by local council policy supporting wind energy companies and renewable energy targets  – that potentially provides new income from land lease agreements to energy companies, while farmers and land owners who have invested in diversification could be set to loose out as a result of potential negative effects of wind turbines? ie Lower yields from animals, Reduction in tourist market, Reduction in local trade as restaurants suffer from declining tourists.
  • The Lincoln report of which excerpts can be found at the following link, (http://www.glebemountaingroup.org/documents/Lincoln120403.pdf) details how milk yields decreased and animal illness increased in a dairy herds close to wind turbines. Are you aware of the findings of the report, have you personally read it?
  • Would you care to comment about animal yields and animal health and welfare issues when they are subject to living within proximity to industrial wind turbines?
  • Would the council like to include / energy company provide a guaranteed produce level and animal welfare guarantee within any planning approvals?
  • Meat Quality and animal stress – When producing high quality meat, it is known that stress reduces the taste potential. Therefore how will high end meat producers be compensated for reduction in the quality of their meat?
  • There is an assumption that farmers will be able to farm their land following the construction of industrial wind turbines. However there are safety implications of operating under turbines. (http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/page4.htm) There have been many blade failures and ice shedding is a problem. Although there have been injuries, to date there have been no fatalities as a result of ice or blade failure to farmers. However as more industrial wind turbines are commissioned can I suggest that it is only a matter of time before the question of Health and Safety around industrial wind turbines is explored further. It seems reasonable to suggest that a situation may occur where Health & Safety executives prohibit the operation of personal with fairly large zones of rotating industrial wind turbines. This would limit the farmer’s opportunity to grow crops. What are your comments regard this?
  • Many fields are tile drained. Are these drainage systems damaged during the instillation of industrial wind turbines. (http://www.wind-watch.org/alerts/2007/12/27/what-have-i-done/) Due to underground cables, foundations etc, how expensive would it be to replace or repair  tile drain systems? Would farmers be allowed to do so, would it be at their cost or would the energy companies replace damaged field drainage systems?
  • Do Farmers sign away their right to place barns or other buildings on their land during the lease period?
  • How much notice do energy companies need to give to terminate agreements?
  • After the lease deal, is the farmer committed to signing a new lease deal?
  • What protection does a farmer who signs a lease deal have if the claims made by energy companies in relation to Wind Turbine issues (noise, visual effects, animal yields, property values) turn out somewhat miss-leading?
  • Are the energy leases transferable to new land owners at the agreed terms and conditions or do they have to be re-negotiated?
  • Some farmers who sign lease options, and therefore have motivation to support industrial wind turbine developments may not find that the final plans include industrial wind turbines on their land, therefore excluding them from financial gain. As the thoughts of financial reward have been shown to motivate people towards industrial wind turbine developments, how can the council protect a fair public debate from distortion due the possibility of energy companies approaching more people than are really required? What protection is in place to deal with the social consequences of un-realized assumptions if some people ultimately get the pain without the gain.

 

Please Note the Following

  • All answers provide an honest attempt by myself – Steven Draper – to understand the global, national and local issues surrounding industrial wind turbines. While I do hope they open the your eyes and minds to issues over which I have concern, I take no responsibility for decisions that you or other parties make on the basis of my information I provide. Please do your own evaluation of research – or do your own, draw your own conclusions, take ownership of your personal decisions regarding the subject
  • As further information becomes available answers may change to reflect the nature of this information. Information may be changed, amended or deleted at any time.
  • If you have further information that you would like me to read please let me know via comments or email.
  • Where links are given I cannot be held responsible for the content of these sites. Please let me know of any bad links or unexpected third party content!
  • Most pages provide opportunity to leave your own comments, please do so and feel free to ask further questions of me. If my answers are thin, I’d like to review and strengthen them.
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