A group of Huron-Kinloss Twp. residents are questioning what are safe setback requirements for wind turbines?
Andy Robinson attended the Nov. 6 council meeting, along with several other township residents, in regard to the setback requirements and health concerns caused by the wind turbines. He said reports he has seen stated that setbacks less than 1,000 metres cause adverse health affects.
In Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Twp., Robinson said many residents have expressed their concerns with regard to noise and health issues caused by wind turbines.
Robinson said he applauds council for proposing a setback requirement of 1,200 metres and for taking their recommendation to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). In 2004, the OMB rejected an appeal by the township to increase the setback for wind turbines to 1,200 metres, from 600 metres as proposed by Bruce County in the official plan. However, Robinson questioned why the OMB rejected their proposal.
Coun. Jim Hanna said the setback requirement of 1,200 metres was refused. He said this level of government (municipal) is bound by the upper government (county). Mayor Mitch Twolan said council has to accept the information they have at hand.
“The government is pushing these wind turbines through and not giving you the proper information to make decisions,” said Robinson, adding that council should contact the Ministry of Health to get the facts.
However, Twolan said it is too late for the Suncor project. He added that they would not get any information from the Ministry of Health as they are still waiting for them to address water issues in the township.
“I would rather see (the wind turbines) not come in too,” said Hanna. “But Suncor is probably one of the best companies that has put a proposal in and they should be good neighbours.”
Robinson then asked “at the end of the day” who would be accountable for the setback requirements.
“These turbines are here to stay. We were told by the ministry that we need power and the municipalities have to deal with it,” said Twolan. “I would rather deal with the issue here at township council than at the provincial level where they have no idea what rural life is like.”
Robinson said this is going to become a big problem everywhere. He said companies could set up turbines wherever they want.
“Those signing off their land are not aware of these issues,” he said.
Coun. Lillian Abbott said the problem is that the companies approach the land owners first before council.
Later, Abbott asked if the setback requirements could be addressed with further development. She said the county should be addressing the issue.
Twolan said setback requirements for future wind turbine projects can be addressed with the zoning bylaw. Also, he said setbacks are not a county issue.
“The province dropped this on us. It’s the province that needs to step up,” he said.
Huron-Kinloss Twp. council removed the holding on 10 wind turbines for the Suncor wind power project.
Chief Building Official Matt Farrell said they have received the required documents from Suncor to lift the holding provision from the wind turbine site. He said the documents were reviewed by staff and forwarded to Bruce County Planning and the fire chief for comment.
Farrell said county planning had some concerns about security and access, most of which were addressed in the site plan agreement. He said Fire Chief Doug Martyn and several members of the fire department met with staff and Gary Prine from Suncor. Most of their concerns were addressed with the exception of site access during the winter season.
Further meetings were scheduled for the upcoming months to discuss equipment needs and high angle rescue training, said Farrell. He said Suncor has agreed to “secure a financial instrument that meets the intent of this request and provides $1.5 million of funding availability for 20 years from the in-service date of the project.”
The holding would remain on the other 28 turbines and the transformer station until all the conditions are fully satisfied.
By Sara Bender