Wind farm visual blight? Many don't think so.

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Bookish Agrarian

Don't forget that is just one turbine. In the area where I work off the farm there are 35 of them up already and that is just within a couple of rural blocks. Piles more in the area and getting installed elsewhere.approval for more all the time. When zoning was requested to put one up right outside of a town, it was turned down. Hard to think that wouldn't happen elsewhere.
I agree we are all going to have to do our part, but denying there are any problems is not a way to get people on board. I also think we need to think about the huge amount of public money is going into these private companies that might provide better returns invested in other ways like conservation and co-generation and other things. I also have to wonder when huge polluting energy companies are getting in on the act. Is this just a way to 'write off' environmental destruction elsewhere? That I think is at least an open question.

[ 10 October 2007: Message edited by: Bookish Agrarian ]


I've heard mixed reviews about the financial benefits for landowers who have allowed windmills on their property. Nothing deeply researched, but what I understood is that some landowners won't be realizing much of a benefit at all.

Not to mention no one knows where the power goes. Highly unlikely it's being piped directly to small communities, like Port Burwell.

Plus, I'm fairly certain that the teams who installed the turbines were all Americans. Again, I'd have to check that.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture


There is a simple reality. Wind Turbines are not perfect. Are they better than coal - sure. Does that mean that the folks who have to host these things shouldn't be respected and have their concerns addressed- not on your life.
I don't live in Toronto, but if Toronto residents were complaining about something that was affecting their quality of life, and property values, cutting down trees and wrecking valuable quality land I would support those people even though it has no immediate effect on me. Should rural people not get the same, especially when we are the dumping ground for an awful lot of the environmental problems that goes with urban concentration.
FM if you are a non-urban person I am sorry. However, I find it hard to believe that if you are and you live in an area with a lot of wind production going in the objections and concerns raised would be new, or startling.
It is simply not NIMBY to point out there are problems that need to be addressed.

You know, nothing is perfect. Urban areas have far worse issues to contend with although they are spreading.

Urban and commercial sprawl come immediately to mind. The unbridled development eats agricultural land, wetlands, woodlands, habitat, and destroys topography and natural drainage. As well developers will build, with municipal blessing and eager buyers, right under high voltage lines, beside airports, and along side rail lines.

Let's not pretend urban areas have lesser land use pressures.

I do live in a rural area. And I have lived in Toronto. They are different. And where I live I can see the turbines. They are a part of the landscape. More are going up. I photographed one being transported two weeks ago.

The objections are limited.

One more time, I agree, they are not perfect. But they are a damn sight better than both coal and nuclear.


Not to mention no one knows where the power goes. Highly unlikely it's being piped directly to small communities, like Port Burwell.

Plus, I'm fairly certain that the teams who installed the turbines were all Americans.

Farmpunk, in the computer world we call that spreading FUD. The power is piped into the grid. We all use it. If you purchase your power from Bullfrog, your dollars are only applied to clean, renewable energy.

AIM Powergen which built the turbines near Port Burwell is a Canadian company and the owner has been a Port Burwell booster.

All skills that could be locally sourced were. All of the electrical subcontractors were union and most were from nearby.

The turbines themselves were imported.

[ 10 October 2007: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]

Sven Sven's picture


Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
[b]The turbines themselves were imported.[/b]

Do you know from where?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I believe most come from your side of the border.


F-M, unsure how you can champion local power and then say it's fine to buy power off the grid via a middleman. Sounds similar to purchasing carbon offsets. You a Liberal supporter, by any chance?

That's a joke, of course.

I hope you're right about the labour source.

The Port Burwell wind power should be piped first to the farms that are hosting the turbines, then to the surrounding neighbors, then to the various small communities around the area. Right now the entire project feels like a Liberal feel good, everybody wins, endeavour.

As far as them being intrusive to locals... I haven't heard many complaints from farmers I know from that area. But most of the turbines are not located in any backyards.

Too bad the apple, cherry, and veggie farms don't get the same amount of press that the turbines attract. And Port Burwell is a beautiful stretch of land.

Sven Sven's picture

Do wind farm [b][i]need[/b][/i] to be close to people? I mean, Canada has tens of thousands of square miles the country available for wind farms, no?

[ 11 October 2007: Message edited by: Sven ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

Sven, we call that "nothing" scenery. Must you always be insensitive?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture


unsure how you can champion local power and then say it's fine to buy power off the grid via a middleman. Sounds similar to purchasing carbon offsets. You a Liberal supporter, by any chance?

I didn't say it was fine. I said you could.

I am all in favour of community based energy projects, Farmpunk. But there is one problem. No one is doing them and there is no real support for them. By real support I mean a support that can translate into action as opposed to mere messages of "fuck, yeah!" on bulletin boards.

So if it is my choice to wait for community power while choking on coal or build industrial wind projects now, I will take the latter. But as I said before, we will get both (all three, really. Coal, nuclear, and industrial wind, solar, etc ...).

Community based energy projects have three distinct problems:

1) The municipal governments that manage the communities where they would be based really do not understand why they are preferable when their lights work just fine as things are. It is like suggesting to them they build local bio-diesel plants sourcing local inputs and providing for local markets when the gas for their boats on wheels is still so cheap. (If you would like to discover how people would react to you if you were an alien from outer space, approach your municipal council, discuss energy depletion, and recommend a low cost bio-diesel plant using products grown on marginal soil for the purpose of ensuring the needs of local agriculture.)

2) The provincial government has no interest. Money can be spread further around and more palms greased through mega-projects. That money can then be returned, in part, to grease the wheels of election campaigns.

3) Environmentalists, the people who generally support community energy projects, are incredibly useless. They spend all their time in partisan cat fights or in trying to be non-partisan [i]educators[/i] to actually make a difference of any kind. As a self-described environmentalist, I am extremely disappointed with the so-called movement which really doesn't move at all. It talks a hell of a lot but mostly at itself and says next to nothing of value.

I watched a very good NDP candidate get defeated yesterday. He came in third. He should/could have won if the environmentalists recognized he was one of their own and got behind him. No such luck. He is just one candidate. But I saw the same thing in municipal elections were environmentalists stayed home. They didn't volunteer, they didn't campaign for candidates, nor the environment, they didn't go out and vote for their cause. They were/are invisible at election time.

Yes, I know, I am cynical. I am a frustrated mess, after all. So you will forgive me when people say we shouldn't mitigate with plan 'A' but we should wait for the ultimate plan 'X', and I roll my eye balls.

Unfortunately, our environment, our prosperity, our future, the future of your children, is in the hands of people who have but a cursory knowledge of the issues, little intellectual curiosity to learn more, and are firmly committed to a system dedicated to the status quo and where bricks and mortar are valued more than flesh and blood. But that is the choice we have made time and time again because we lack the capacity to speak to each other outside of the sound bites and slogans fed to us by the mass media and television in particular.

In fact, let me finish this lengthy rant by adding that the most revolutionary, subversive act any one of us can commit, today, is unplugging the TV for good. For a family, a community, it represents the first step to a real communication.

[ 11 October 2007: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


Fair points, F-M.

I think unplugging air conditioners would do more for the environment than TVs. Try selling that idea to people.

I saw an NDP dude get his ass handed to him yesterday, too. It wasn't fun. There were no supporters.


Just catching up here, and I did scan a few posts, so if this has already been mentioned, sorry.

Wind turbines will of course first be put where the best pay back, or generation is likely. That means Wind turbines will likely ring all the Great Lakes shores before anywhere else.

If we remember back to our High School Geography, we might recall the on shore/off shore breezes. In the day time, the land warms quicker than water, heats the air, which causes convection. To replace that rising air, cool air over the lake gets sucked in over the land.

So, no matter the movement of weather fronts, even on windless days there is almost always a wind off the lake. At night, the process reverses itself.

Cities do dull the wind. A lot of Houses and buildings create turbulence. It may still be economically viable, though. Just not as viable as existing prime locations.

London is exceptional, or at least parts of it are. Those familiar with the town that democracy forgot will know that much of London sits in a bowl like depression. That's why we got cable before anyone else, and that's why you'll never see a turbine downtown.

Toronto, on the other hand, has no excuses, now that I've been forced to think about it. They have on shore and off shore breezes, and have only recently discovered that there is something called Lake Ontario. In previous decades, no one saw a problem blocking the view of the Lake, so I see no problem with wind turbines lining the lake shore.

The Scarberia bluffs are probably and excellent site.

And, because the electricity has less distance to travel, the loss over the power lines is less, making it even more efficient to locate turbines in the Greater Metro Lake Shore area.

Country folk are right to point this out. In fact, I think they should demand a moratorium on wind mills until there are significantly more than one located in Toronto.

On the noise issue, I can't say I have ever heard a windmill, but then I have never walked right up to one. I tend to think that 100db at less than 20hz can effect people even if they can't hear it.

This is based on an episode of "Mythbusters" where they searched for the so called "brown note". The "Brown note" is a mythical frequency, below our range of hearing, that is said to be able to make the hearer void their bowels involuntarily.

While that didn't happen, there were some among the film crew who had to leave the area where some very loud noise at low frequency was being blasted from speakers. Then, there were those totally un-effected.

And, uninterestingly enough, low frequency sounds travel further than high frequency sounds. Some animals take advantage of this, like elephants.


While not resonating with all, the bowel-loosening of a wind farm's brown noise may be a spin-off that some might even welcome.

If in fact, the appropriately-named phenomenon is not a myth, it would seem to have potential use as a kinder, gentler weapon in that, after its application, one might fall upon on enemy that was taking a collective dump.

Not totally off the topic of wind, I'm reminded of an incident in a London cinema when, following a loud fart and great laughter, someone hollered, "Speak up, Brown! You're through."


Why do birds get killed?
Never mind I googled it and found out. It does seem that there are ways of getting around the problem.

[ 11 October 2007: Message edited by: clersal ]


I find their height and shape distinctly eerie, and I'm not sure I'd feel that comfortable living around them. I encountered dozens out by St-Leon, Somerset late on a dark night this past summer, not recognizing what these giant apparitions were against the dark sky. I had to force myself to get out of the car to look at them. They look alien to me, immensely tall, ghostly white and too slender with their three blades turning, turning, and the quiet whooshing of each enormous blade as it swings around. I think it's actually the quietness of them that I find so creepy. For something of that size to be so quiet (relatively) seems alien, not part of our normal experience.

However, I don't doubt that there is some generation of constant audibility that we wouldn't notice, just visiting them briefly.



Cities do dull the wind. A lot of Houses and buildings create turbulence.

Wind can also funnel between buildings. Not that wind turbines should be sited on that basis necessarily! What buildings offer is an opportunity for rooftop photo-voltaics or solar water heating. Similarly for some walls and even windows, depending on emerging technology.


I don't know how much was hyperbole or how much fact but recall a news item of air quality over Mexico City being so bad that "birds dropped dead from the sky".

Improving air quality with greener electricity should eventually better and lengthen the lives of all creatures, including those that fly.

The blades of these turbines will have great speed at their tips during strong winds, but should not be compared with aircraft propellers that turn at much greater speed. The majority of bird contact with these highly-visble turbine blades should involve nothing more than a minor buffetting, in my opinion.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture


The blades of these turbines will have great speed at their tips during strong winds

They are engineered to turn perpendicular to the wind and halt under wind conditions above a certain speed that escapes me right now.


The turbines are set to react to a certain wind speed. That speed is also tied to how much power a turbine creates.

I believe the Port Burwell area turbines activate at 15 kms\hour.

The turbines also have a top speed reaction. They shut down in high winds. Not sure about numbers.


"Wind can also funnel between buildings."

I would venturi a guess that this has possibilities.

[ 13 October 2007: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]




I would venturi a guess that this has possibilities

Very good! Yes, as an airframe technician in an earlier life, I got it.

Are you suggesting that something other than marigolds be planted in some of those traffic circles? Winnipeg comes to mind.



Look at the poor cows. Almost no room for them.

Actually there's quite a flap in our area as the MD has decided to set up an exclusion zone for wind power.

This is largely due to a small, vocal segment of ex-urbanites who have moved to acreages and are trying to prevent the local farmers/ranchers from leasing their land to wind farms, thus ruining the view they moved out here for.

Apparently wind leases can be quite a nice secondary income for ranchers as you can still run your cattle pretty much unimpeded.



Originally posted by bliter:

Very good! Yes, as an airframe technician in an earlier life, I got it.

Are you suggesting that something other than marigolds be planted in some of those traffic circles? Winnipeg comes to mind.[/b]

I am so glad someone got just one of my obscure puns or references. Sometimes I....I feel so lonely here...*sniff*....
[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

The problem with using buildings that magnify the wind-- and I think in Toronto there are places that Torontonians think is always windy due to tall buildings, is that we can't move the buildings to account for changes in wind direction. And, of course, a windmill in the middle of the Younge and Bloor intersection is problematic.

But maybe small turbines on the sides of buildings?

It struck me some time ago that large fins, like vertical wings, around a wind turbine could produce the venturi effect, and make some areas more economically viable for wind generation. But then that presents some significant engineering challenges. I'm sure it's been thought of, and dismissed. But it might be practical for small home wind turbines?


I just hope the good doctor's research is not funded by the oil industry, otherwise......




Are wind farms a health risk? US scientist identifies 'wind turbine syndrome'



Noise and vibration coming from large turbines are behind an increase in heart disease, migraine, panic attacks and other health problems, according to research by an American doctor


I remain unconvinced by either side of this argument.


I don't think it's that hard to design a double blind experiment to determine if people are effected by the vibrations from windmills.

This can all be quantified.