By Troy Patterson
Wednesday August 16, 2006
Shoreline Beacon – Public input has forced the Enbridge Wind Power Project to increase its setbacks and go back to the drawing board for the 121 turbine project.
The switch from 50 to 121-metre setbacks from property lines will cost the company an additional $8 million, but the change has resulted in both Bruce County and Kincardine giving the okay the project.
Saugeen Shores is still looking for larger setbacks for its 11 sites, especially in regards to distance separations from residences. Currently Enbridge is suggesting 350 meters.
“We’re still negotiating (setback issues),” said mayor Mark Kraemer. “We’re not in agreement with the actions of Kincardine or the county… but it’s better than 50 metres, so it’s kind of good news, bad news.”
He said time should have been allowed to review a study done by an independent engineer, Bill Palmer of Paisley, who has recommended residential setbacks of 900 metres.
Enbridge’s Debbie Boukydis said they’re currently in the process of repositioning the turbines to fit the specifications for the new setbacks and starting the zoning bylaw applications for each Kincardine site.
Chris LaForest, Director of Planning and Economic Development for Bruce County, said the concerns they had with the Environmental Screening Report have been resolved.
“Now that the setbacks have been resolved, the department will be recommending to Bruce County council that the elevation request (to a full environmental assessment) to the Ministry of Environment be removed.”
Enbridge must now provide a new Environmental Screening Report reflecting the extended setbacks.
Boukydis said they hope to complete the process soon to inform the public on the details and locations of the turbines and apply for noise regulation approvals from the Ministry of Environment.
“It does take some time, but we’re doing the remodeling as we speak,” she said.
The Saugeen Shores portion of the project has been put on the back burner for the time being, as nods from the two other parties has got the ball rolling with 110 of the 121 turbine project.
“We’re proceeding with what we have in Kincardine,” Boukydis said. “We’ll look at the other 11 later, depending on where the process is at. We’ll revisit the Saugeen Shores portion when this part of the project has been completed.”
Boukydis said there were originally around 15 requests for a full environmental assessment on the project. Enbridge is still waiting on a decision by the director of Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch (EAAB) regarding the new setbacks, whose decision will go through a 21 day appeal period before it goes to the Minister of Environment for final approval.
Boukydis said the change in plans has set the project back significantly, but they hope to break ground before year’s end.
“It’s still our hope to be able to start roads before the snow flies,” she said. “We’re very pleased Kincardine has supported the project. This way we can start going forward.”
The turbine zoning bylaws will be brought forward at the September 6 council meeting in Kincardine.
Kraemer said the town has always been the “˜little sister’ of the project, but it doesn’t mean they’ll accept the change outright for a project that will permanently change the landscape.
“I don’t want to see any installations west of Highway 21,” said Kraemer. “The lake is our biggest asset. I don’t see any reason why we’d want to distort that view.”
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