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Wind farm project won't face environmental assessment

by Pat Halpin

Bruce County is no longer asking for a full environmental assessment on the massive Enbridge wind -farm project in Kincardine and Saugeen Shores.

The request for a full-blown environmental assessment, in addition to the environmental screening report, was withdrawn when Enbridge more than doubled the distance it will keep between a turbine and neighbouring property line.

Enbridge had proposed a 50.5-metre setback, while the county wanted 121 metres. Resolving that difference cleared the way to give a nod to the project, planning director Chris LaForest said.

“Enbridge has come back and agreed to the county’s request for increased setback. As such, (we) provided the staff report to county council recommending that they remove the request for the bump up on the environmental assessment,” LaForest said.

Enbridge wants to put 121 wind turbines on sites it will lease from rural property owners in Kincardine and Saugeen Shores. Each turbine will be 80 metres tall, have three 40-metre blades and be capable of producing 1.65mw of power. Once the project is up and running it will generate enough power for 70,000 homes per year.

Kincardine is working on zoning bylaws to let the project go ahead.

But the province has yet to rule on objections from other opponents of the project, including a residents’ group and the Bruce County Federation of Agriculture. The withdrawal of Bruce County’s request doesn’t clear the way for the project or nullify those objections, LaForest said.

Meanwhile Bruce County is still pushing for provincewide standards on wind farms.

“We think it’s vital for local interests and also for provincial interests that the province develop a set of standards that apply to the wind industry – very similar to what they’ve done for pit and quarry applications,” LaForest said.

When projects have to meet the same standards, it’s easier for residents and agencies to understand and comment on the pros and cons of each development, LaForest said.