Your letter of the day in the Tuesday edition of The Enterprise Bulletin certainly caught my eye. It began with a headline:
“WHAT’S WITH THE AIRPORT AND TURBINES?”
Robert Knox correctly identifies me as Chair of the Airport Services Board, but chose not to disclose that he is a prominent disciple in the pro-wind farm sector. As a professional engineer I certainly understand the virtues of wind turbines, in the appropriate applications and settings.
It is thus rather offensive to me at least, when Mr. Knox attempts to soothe your readers with such advice that, “Neither Mr. Tatham, the Airport Board, the developer, nor the Province of Ontario decides where a turbine or any other structure goes in relation to an airport. Transport Canada sets the rules for the safety and security for airports like Collingwood.”
Hopefully remarks like this arise from Mr. Knox’s ignorance of the protocols and regulations, and not from an intention to mislead your readers. Transport Canada regulations and protocols provide that if someone erects an obstacle near an airport, Transport Canada will require that the details of the obstacle be published and that passages around it or above it are to be described.
They have never intervened in the case of a regional airport to cause an obstacle to be pre-vented or moved. Only with the 20 or so national airports have Transport Canada put in zoning regulations that limit heights and locations of new obstacles.
The rest of the 800 or so runways in Canada are at the mercy or the discretion of whomever owns the land next door. Publishing notices and altitude restrictions, and placing lights on the tops of the towers, does not adequately mitigate the dangers posed by major physical obstacles in the vicinity of an airport with frequent poor weather and considerable activity.
Mr. Knox’s suggestion that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s approval of the project would somehow imply that the wind farm proposal meets the regulations and requirements relating to operation and safety is — at best — laughable, if not outrightly disturbing.
Thus, Mr. Knox’s assertion that our Board “knows the project meets all Transport Canada’s rules and requirements” and the project meets all MOE’s requirements, is 100 percent B.S., to use the beef farm vernacular.
Wind turbines are economic engines, erected to make profits for somebody (some outfit in Germany?). If they interfere with the effectiveness of a transportation facility such as by raising the approach limits and posing collision hazards in poor weather, they reduce the economic capability of others. Where these turbines are placed is discretionary, reflecting somebody’s choice. When one lands and takes off from the Collingwood Regional Airport, there is only one runway, and the flight paths are governed by standard practices promulgated by Transport Canada.
Willfully placing turbines near a frequent flight path increases the risk of catastrophic events.
Empty and offensive rhetoric indeed, Mr. Knox. I stand by my assertion that — as any grade school student would recognize — the wind farm proposal in close proximity to the airport is asinine, unjustified, and dangerous.
C.C. TATHAM, P. ENG.
Chair, Collingwood Airport Services Board