Health Canada has finally stepped up to the plate.
The federal ministry is going to conduct an extensive study of wind turbines and their impact, if any, on health. Included in the research will be addressing infrasound - low frequency sound waves critics of wind turbines say are harming them.
Critics of wind turbines deserve this. Their suspicions may or may not be correct. But anecdotal reports continue to accumulate and this industry is only going to get larger in the future.
Frankly, it's a bit of an embarrassment that our provincial government hasn't done this already.
Let's get the answers and settle the debate once and for all.
Once and for all. That's the key. The fear is that critics of these wind turbine installations won't be satisfied no matter what the study says. Far too few of us are swayed by inconvenient things like facts. If it turns out infrasound is having no effect on human health, will the criticisms stop?
People feel how they feel. If someone feels sick, and they're sure the symptoms began when turbines went up, they won't be persuaded by a study. The study itself will inevitably be challenged. Was it really independent?
Did Health Canada have a motive or agenda that might have swayed the results? Did the study address the specific circumstances of our specific wind farm?
If health loses traction, critics may revert to other problems, from bird kill to noise. These are genuine issues, yes, but not ultimately persuasive.
All technologies have a downside. Birds are killed by turbine blades, for example, but they're also harmed by pollution from fossil fuels. Some people hate the appearance of the turbines, but others are fans.
Reasonable tweaks to the technology - making turbines even more quiet, et cetera - will usually be justified, of course. But significant obstacles to wind turbine development should depend on one thing only, and that's health.
So let's be fair. Critics deserve a rigorous study, and changes in policy if health impacts are substantiated. But industry deserves to be vindicated if the study comes back in their favour.