A new 300-acre, six-turbine wind farm has been given a thumbs up by Municipality of Kincardine council.
On Wednesday night, at the beginning of the public hearing for the 10-megawatt Cruickshank Windfarm just south of Somerhill Golf Course, the town planning department had recommended only five of the six turbines be approved.
Through presentations by representatives from Cuesta Planning Consultants and owner Kevin Cruickshank, town council was convinced a 100-metre setback from neighbouring properties was sufficient for the sixth turbine. Most councillors agreed the smaller setback didn’t present a safety hazard and was an efficient use of the land.
The municipality and Bruce County recently increased their minimum setbacks from adjacent properties to 121-metres, but councillors agreed the compromised setback was appropriate, given the size of the project and the maximum setbacks the property would allow.
Councillor Howard Ribey said the applicants seemed to be doing the best they can with the property, adding that landowners with similar 50-acre properties would seemingly be penalized by the 121-metre setbacks because the plots aren’t wide enough.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Ribey said.
Councillor Gordon Campbell said as more wind farms appear, they should be prepared for these requests.
“As these windmills progress, we’re going to have problems if we don’t use some of these 50-acre farms,” Campbell said.
Councillor Barry Schmidt asked if they would run into problems with the Enbridge project for making the exception, but mayor Glenn Sutton said it wouldn’t be an issue because the Cruickshank project is not taking an “˜envelope’ approach.
Sutton supported the six-turbine project, recognized the 21-metre difference in setbacks, but added it was unlikely the area could be developed, so the use fits the property.
“I don’t think a building will ever be built in that area,” Sutton said who added the decisions on these projects could be stripped from the municipality if Bill 51 is passed in the coming weeks. The bill removes the ability for local governments to have a say on electricity generation projects and Sutton said that decision should be council’s.
“We want to keep local control,” he said, adding that the final say would be in the Ministry of the Environment’s hands. “It’s a very powerful piece of legislation to control energy projects to help satisfy the (electrical) appetite of the province.”
Earlier, councillor Randy Roppel cautioned that allowing a smaller setback could hinder future projects with similar requests.
“If we let you have your way, it opens the door for every other project,” said Roppel, who didn’t support approval of the sixth turbine. “We have to be very careful.”
He then confirmed with the consultant that a decision on the request for an elevation of the Environmental Screening Report (ESR) to a full Environmental Assessment, is pending. If it were approved, the project could be delayed for months.
Cuesta Planning’s Don Scott spoke on the project and said issues like ice throw and noise aren’t significant because of the project’s distance from neighbouring roads and structures. Of the two buildings within the noise radius from the turbines, one is uninhabited and the other is the Cruickshank residence.
Owner Kevin Cruickshank said having six turbines makes the 10-MW project viable they had a meteorological tower up for two years gathering information on wind resources to find the most efficient locations.
“If you start jockeying (the turbines) around, you start to lose that,” he said.
No questions were asked from members of the public.
The issue has been sent to council for approval.
By Troy Patterson
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding