Cornell University has again delayed plans to build wind turbines, citing local concerns about health effects, noise and the proximity of homes.
Tompkins County residents fought the Black Oaks Wind Farm for the last 11 years. Ithaca is the county seat and home of the Ivy League school , which has ironically contracted to buy power from the proposed wind farm.
The wind farm is relatively small — only 16 megawatts — but it is still being opposed by many locals, despite 68 percent of the county’s residents voting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, according to The New York Times. Clinton promised to produce enough renewable energy to power every U.S. home, and wind would have been part of that plan.
“There’s far too much resistance across New York State, from the very same people who said ‘no shale gas [fracking] in my backyard’ are now saying no solar panels and no wind in my backyard,” Tony Ingraffea, a Cornell University researcher, said at a press conference. “You can’t have it both ways. Suck it up and be courageous.”
Ingraffea is an anti-fracking activist who appeared in the film “Gasland” and has repeatedly supported the right of local residents to block fracking development.
More than 100 residents signed an open letter demanding that any wind turbines built be farther away from their homes than the plans dictate. Currently, the turbines are planned to be only 1,000 feet from any occupied building and 225 feet from property lines. Due to these concerns, local officials have been reluctant to give the project final approval.
But not every resident agrees.
“They’ve gotten all these people terrified,” Marguerite Wells, a local resident who supports the turbines, said in a statement. “There is no impact to real estate values, there is no impact to people. … They got this NIMBY thing going. We can’t get anything approved.”
One of most common complaints about wind turbines by local residents is that they cause “flickering” when the sun is behind their blades. This is generally agreed to be incredibly annoying and there’s evidence that it can cause headaches, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression symptoms in people who live nearby.
Environmentalists are increasingly against wind power at the local level. Even in comparatively progressive places like Vermont or Great Britain, wind farms tend to be aggressively opposed by local residents.
Major environmental groups like the Center For Biological Diversity have a long history of pursuing legal action against “green” development, like wind turbines or solar farms, which it believes encroach on animal habitats and kill tens of thousands of birds.
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