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Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada: A Review—Why Are They Important?

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Document pages: 13 pages

Abstract: Background: The introduction of industrial wind turbines into quiet rural environments in Ontario, Canada has resulted in complaints about environmental noise and adverse health effects. Ontario has a process whereby residents can report noise to government. Official government records of Incident Reports Complaints submitted by residents living near operating wind turbine installations were obtained through a Freedom of Information request. This article presents an evaluation of this process while commenting on the significance of Incident Reports Complaints. Methods: Government records of Incident Reports Complaints were analysed. Peer reviewed publications, conference presentations, judicial proceedings, government resources, and other sources were evaluated and considered in context with the topic under discussion. Objectives: The purpose of this article is to present the role and significance of Incident Reports Complaints and discuss the value of these when assessing outcomes related to the introduction of wind turbines into a quiet rural environment. Results: Government records document 4574 Incident Reports Complaints received by Ontario’s hotline (2006- 2016). There was no ministry response to over 50 of more than 3000 submitted formal complaints (2006-2014). Another 30 were noted as “deferred” response. Only 1 of the reports received a priority response. Provincial Officers noted in summary reports that people were reporting health effects such as: headache, sleep deprivation, annoyance, and ringing or pressure sensation in the head and ears. Health effects were reported many times including those occurring among children. Discussion: In the case of wind power installations, Incident Reports Complaints are an important source of information for evaluating outcomes of introducing a new noise source into a quiet rural environment and are a form of public health surveillance. These reports can highlight risks to a healthy community living environment, act as an early warning system, and aid in evaluation of government policy initiatives. They may also be used before legal tribunals in public or private actions.

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