By John Miner – London Free Press
After losing one round in court to the McGuinty government, anti-wind-turbine activists can sniff political victory in the air.
The wind energy issue has turned red hot in rural areas and there are enough people angry to bring down Liberal candidates, said John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
“Wind is a far hotter issue on the local level than anything else. The government did it to themselves because they took away local control,” Laforet said on the weekend during a break at Wind Concerns annual meeting in London.
Formed as a coalition in October 2008 with 22 organizations, the group that opposes wind farms now has 57 members.
“Our members are in 35 counties. We think we can play a significant role through direct political action,” Laforet said.
Wind Concerns Ontario is calling for a moratorium on all industrial wind projects until a health study is completed on their impact.
Once that’s done, the coalition wants the McGuinty government to return authority for approving wind turbine development to municipalities, something it stripped in the Green Energy Act.
That was a political blunder, according to Laforet, who was a Liberal party member and former Liberal riding president.
“I resigned to fight them on this issue,” he said.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has pledged to return control over wind farms to municipalities.
Laforet said the coalition hasn’t endorsed any political party and won’t until platforms have been released.
“We are in talks with the Green party, the NDP and the PCs,” he said.
The anti-wind-turbine activists lost a court challenge in March over how close wind turbines can be from homes.
The court ruled the Ontario government had followed the proper process when it decided the turbines could be 550 metres away.
That ruling may be appealed.
While wind-turbine opponents met Saturday, the Canadian government announced it was investing $117,000 in a start-up company in Middlesex that will build foundation bases for wind turbines and solar installations.
DrillTech Canada is expected to create eight full-time jobs in its first two years of operation.