The crusade to stop a wind turbine project in Dutton Dunwich continues to gain momentum.
Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines (DDOWT) delivered three stacks of petitions to Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek on Friday. It took volunteers with the group three weeks to collect 1,822 signatures and 250 letters from local residents opposed to the controversial Strong Breeze wind farm.
"We are very pleased with the numbers. The numbers certainly demonstrate that the vast majority of people are very opposed," said Bonnie Rowe, DDOWT executive member.
Jamie Littlejohn, another executive member of DDOWT and an area farmer, was among those who collected the signatures.
"I didn't have anyone who didn't want to sign the petition," said Littlejohn. "The momentum is gaining in our favour. The more information that comes out every day on the adverse effects and the economic hardships that it is creating. It is getting stronger."
Yurek will present the petition and letters to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault at Queen's Park on Monday.
"There is plenty of time to scrap this project in Dutton Dunwich. These petitions have given me more ammunition to take to the government and say 'look, people living in Dutton Dunwich, the municipal council do not support this project. We don't need the energy, we don't need the increased cost to the system. Stop this project, do the right thing,'" said Yurek.
The Municipality of Dutton Dunwich declared itself a non-willing host in 2014 after conducting a survey that found 84% of residents were against wind turbines.
The Strong Breeze wind farm was granted approval during the first phase of the Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in March of this year. Construction of the 57.5 megawatt renewable energy project is slated to begin in 2018.
"It is safe to say the government has stopped listening to rural Ontario," said Yurek. "If [the government] step back and take a look at what they've done to our energy system, the rates have skyrocketed, they're tearing apart communities with these projects. They need to start listening to the people of Ontario again. The first step to that is cancelling these projects."
DDOWT alleges a clause in the wind turbine contract with Chicago-based Invenergy does allow for the project to be cancelled without any legal ramifications.