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County votes for wind project EA

Bruce County wants a full environmental assessment (EA) on Enbridge’s proposed 121-turbine wind farm in Kincardine and Saugeen Shores.

The decision came last Thursday as delegations from the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture (BCFA), Municipality of Kincardine residents and Enbridge all crowded into the Arran-Elderslie council chambers for a planning committee meeting before the July county council session.

Planners have been working with Enbridge for a month on a list of county concerns about the windfarm proposal. Director Chris LaForest reported many of the issues are now off that list. Remaining concerns about noise will be investigated through on-going monitoring of the turbines. But LaForest said setbacks are still an issue with the project.

“The advent of these turbines is going to permanently change the look and feel of the county,” he said.

Bruce County supports green power, but said the province should be setting consistent rules for windfarm development instead of leaving municipalities and counties to struggle with the issues.

The importance of green energy and Bruce County’s promotion of itself as a natural retreat means the county has “no choice but to embrace” the technology, LaForest said. At the same time the county’s planning process should protect neighbouring landowners from negative impacts of wind turbines.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The decision came last Thursday as delegations from the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture (BCFA), Municipality of Kincardine residents and Enbridge all crowded into the Arran-Elderslie council chambers for a planning committee meeting before the July county council session.

Planners have been working with Enbridge for a month on a list of county concerns about the windfarm proposal. Director Chris LaForest reported many of the issues are now off that list. Remaining concerns about noise will be investigated through on-going monitoring of the turbines. But LaForest said setbacks are still an issue with the project.

“The advent of these turbines is going to permanently change the look and feel of the county,” he said.

Bruce County supports green power, but said the province should be setting consistent rules for windfarm development instead of leaving municipalities and counties to struggle with the issues.

The importance of green energy and Bruce County’s promotion of itself as a natural retreat means the county has “no choice but to embrace” the technology, LaForest said. At the same time the county’s planning process should protect neighbouring landowners from negative impacts of wind turbines.

Setbacks are a big issue for planners, some councillors and residents. Enbridge wants to put towers 50.5 metres from neighbouring property lines. The county said that distance should be at least the full height of the tower and a blade, which adds up to 121 metres.

“Setbacks is the biggest issue. That was the biggest issue we had from day one in Huron-Kinloss,” said Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan.

He was among those calling for provincial rules on windfarms.

“We’re going to see more projects coming down the road, so I think it’s time the province stepped in and gave some guidelines to the county and the municipalities to work with,” he said.

But Kincardine Deputy-Mayor Sandy Donald said Bruce County is discouraging wind farm investment by asking for a full environmental assessment.

“I think what’s going to happen if we delay the project any further, we’re going to see a cascade effect take over in which all the wind projects in this area are going to start to falter,” Donald said.

In a recorded vote, Couns. Charlie Bagnato of Brockton, Mark Kraemer of Saugeen Shores, Milt McIver of Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ron Oswald of Arran-Elderslie and Twolan voted for the bump up to a full environmental assessment, bigger setbacks and a request for provincial standards on wind farms.

Couns. Ralph Kreutzwiser of South Bruce, Carl Noble of Southern Bruce Peninsula and Donald voted against that motion and in support of the project as proposed.

Donald warned that Bruce risks losing investment from other developers who are considering wind farm projects.

“What we’re going in reality to see is investors move away from doing anything of the sort up here because we’re showing a negative approach to this,” he said.

“I think a setback of 50 metres at the back of the property where there’s no danger to any human being is quite reasonable.”

The prospect of that future development is just what the county is thinking about. It said the Enbridge project could set the standard for future developments. That’s not a role the company anticipated, said Director of Power Generation Scott Dodd.

“Inadvertently we’ve become the test case for the province and that’s good and bad,” he said.

“You’ve got a big burden on your shoulders, but at the same time I guess we have a chance to influence (the process) with the views that we think are correct for the province.”

An EA will mean more cost and another look at the feasibility of the project, Dodd said.

The BCFA supports the county’s decision to move slowly with the Enbridge proposal.

It’s important to get setbacks that will protect neighbouring landowners, said President Robert Emerson.

“(A turbine) could have restrictions in the future and the next round of planning as to what the neighbouring farmer can build and his agricultural activities and more specifically on agricultural lending,” he said.

Loan restrictions could apply to the farm hosting a tower or to neighbouring farms. Emerson supports the call for provincial standards on windfarm developments.

“The province has really shoved these wind projects through without the proper planning and standards from the provincial level. That’s important to get that settled right now,” he said.


Source: http://www.kincardinenews.c...

JUL 12 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3467-county-votes-for-wind-project-ea
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