If you think flying by the seat of your pants is dangerous, just try flying through a forest of giant wind turbines.
That’s what’s planned for the flight path of Collingwood Regional Airport, and their local MPP is outraged.
The province recently gave wind energy company Wpd Canada approval to build eight 152-metre turbines. One is just 2.1 nautical miles from the end of the runway — just seconds after take-off and seconds before landing.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson says the turbines were pushed through over the objections of the local council, which has no say over where they’re located.
“People here are in shock,” Wilson said in an interview.
“I get asked on the street, I get asked by councillors, I get asked by people at the airport, ‘Are the government really crazy? Are they really going to do this?’”
The Green Energy Act has taken away all power from local municipalities when it comes to siting turbines.
“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ someone gets killed, it’s ‘when’ someone gets killed,” said Wilson. He said a flight school at the airport may be forced to close.
He’s planning to bring a private member’s bill asking the government to restore local autonomy when it comes to the placement of turbines.
“Transport Canada doesn’t have any rules for this because they didn’t think any government in Canada would be stupid enough to allow 152-metre wind turbines near airports,” he explained.
“We’re the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t have that authority any longer.”
He says it’s not too late to stop the project.
Collingwood Regional Airport board has said it’s not against wind turbines — it just doesn’t want them at the end of their only runway.
“Transport Canada’s comment was if it gets bad, change your approach procedure and if it gets really bad, close the runway,” Wilson said.
“There’s only one runway.”
If the turbines go in, Wilson predicts the airport is doomed. That will have a huge economic impact on development of the popular resort area.
There’s a multimillion-dollar plan to expand the aviation business at the airport, but he’s been told that’s in jeopardy because the airport will be ruined.
A spokesman for Wpd Group, a German-based company with offices in Mississauga, says they’ve worked with an aviation consultant since 2010 and will comply with all Transport Canada requirements.
“We had questions regarding the proximity to the airport and whether that would raise issues,” Kevin Surette said.
Rural Ontario has suffered a double-whammy from green energy. Whammy No. 1 was having ugly turbines foisted on them. Whammy No. 2 is that many rural agricultural businesses rely on cheap electricity. And green energy has sent their bills skyrocketing.
Wilson says pilots he’s talked to say putting the turbines so close to the airport is madness.
Clearview has declared itself an unwilling host for turbines — but they’re getting them anyway.
Talk about a wing and a prayer.
That’s what you’ll need if you’re flying into Collingwood. Make that more prayer than wing.
WHAT THEY SAID:
• A spokesman for Minister of Energy and Climate Change Glen Murray said the turbines were approved after “the most comprehensive reviews.”
“Ministry technical experts worked with the proponent and regulatory agencies to ensure any concerns about the proposed layout of turbines near the airport and an aerodrome were considered and meet all regulatory agency requirements to reduce any risk to aviation activities,” Gary Wheeler said.
• Wpd spokesman Kevin Surette: “There are conditions that we have to abide by to ensure that aviation safety continues to be number one.
“We do have to conform with Transport Canada’s requirements in terms of lighting and in terms of the colour of the turbines.
“There have been studies done internationally on lighting and on the colour of the structures. We will meet those.”
• From an economic impact study by Malone, Given, Parsons for Clearview Township, principal John Genest said: “Approval of the current Wpd Turbine Project would be fatal to business expansion, such that, on balance, the offending turbines should be moved or Wpd’s Renewable Energy Act Application denied.”
CONDITIONS PLACED ON WPD CANADA:
—·Hire an independent aeronautical consultant to recommend mitigation measures are met.
—·Follow NAV Canada’s construction notification requirements.
—·Meet the ministry’s noise limits and carry out noise audits.
—·Create a community liaison committee with members from the public.
—·Enter into an agreement on road use with the municipality.