'Whipping up Controversy' - The Conflicts Surrounding Wind Turbines in Prince Edward County

by spalmer on November 10, 2017 - 10:21pm

Located just two hours away from the city of Toronto, the picturesque town of Prince Edward County has become known for its “rich and famous” history, heritage, culture and tourism. (Jhutti, 2017) Current plans to establish a wind farm in the County has resulted in a controversial debate over the true benefits and costs of wind turbines in towns dependant on their appearance.

 

A recent article written by Nikkie Jhutti of Global News states that Prince Edward County “receives upwards of 1.5 million visitors per year", making the tourist industry a cornerstone in the County’s economy. With this in mind, many believe that the establishment of a wind farm in the southern heart of the County will have profound effects on the community’s livelihood. While it is well known that wind farms benefit society by providing sustainable, clean energy in a time of climate change uncertainty, the costs associated with wind power are more unfamiliar. (Bratley, 2017) Mayor of  Prince Edward County, Robert Quaiff,  has strongly advocated against the establishment of a wind farm, stating that he and the rest of the community feel “the presence of industrial wind turbines will be very detrimental on the [scenic] part of [their] culture”. (Jhutti, 2017) The high level of controversy surrounding the erection of wind turbines in the County has resulted in the downsize of the wind farm project from twenty-nine turbines, to nine turbines. Regardless of the project’s downsize, residents and members of the County council still believe that the visual disruption, noise and vibration coming from even just one turbine will negatively impact the aesthetic appeal the County’s culture and economy thrive on. (Jhutti, 2017) As for now, the project still has “the green light”, resulting in conflict between the County and wind farm developers, with talks that the community may hold protests in response to the construction. (Jhutti, 2017)

 

The conflict between the residents of Prince Edward County and the wind farm developers has emerged from different perspectives in interest. As defined in lecture material; interest conflicts arise from different ideas of who should benefit and who should pay for the costs associated with a project. Since economic costs may result from the visual and physical damages associated with wind turbines, it is difficult to determine the level of compensation to give to those bearing the visual or physical costs of the project. This is because damages that are visual or physical in nature are subjective to the individual enduring those costs. While most developers consider the benefits of clean energy derived from wind farms to outweigh the costs of the farms, local communities who handle the brunt of the visual, physical and economic costs of the turbines feel as though they are not being compensated by the collective benefits. 

 

A way to ensure that damages incurred by the citizens in Prince Edward County are minimized would be to include public participation in the planning processes. Through adaptive co-management of the wind farm project, citizens will be able to offer their local knowledge to improve the placement and operation of the wind turbines. Combining technical science and local knowledge will allow citizens to support decisions that best suit the values of those directly impacted by the turbines, and provide the wind farm developers with an avenue of success for completing their projects with efficiency and civility. 

 

In conclusion, adopting a co-management perspective on the conflicts associated with wind turbines in Prince Edward County will help to minimize the costs inflicted on local citizens. As the public becomes more involved in the planning process, I believe there will be “winds of change” towards a more positive outlook on wind farms by the residents of Prince Edward County.

 

References: 

 

Bratley, J. (2017, October 16). Advantages and Disadvantages of Wind Energy. Clean Energy Ideas.

Jhutti, N. (2017, September). Prince Edward County fearful construction of wind turbine farm could begin this weekend. Global News.

 

 

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