Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Twp. is hoping to complete the wind turbine provisions bylaw in January now that EPCOR has submitted plans for the Kingsbridge 2 wind power project.
“If the public has any further comments to make, they should make them now,” said Monica Walker-Bolton, of the Huron County planning department.
Walker-Bolton said she is still at the information gathering stage. She said she has emailed relevant agencies for information but is not getting much response. She is also waiting for further information from the Health Unit.
However, EPCOR has submitted the environmental screening report for the Kingsbridge 2 project. The deadline for comments to EPCOR or Stantec Consulting Ltd., is Dec. 22. The document is four inches thick and is available at the EPCOR office in Goderich.
Council was presented with the draft wind turbine provisions bylaw in September and at that time it was agreed that they would defer the bylaw until more information was received.
Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek asked the new councillors how they felt about the bylaw.
Coun. Connie Black and Doug Miller said they agreed with the bylaw but Coun. Barry Millian said 400 metres is plenty close.
“There are ones close to my house that can get plenty loud,” said Millian. “I think 400 metres is stretching it.”
Coun. Carl Sloetjes said council should now consider setting farther setbacks for wind turbines. He said he is concerned with news that the transmission line is full and if more turbines are built the power has nowhere to go.
Walker-Bolton said she believes it is the Goderich transmission station that is full but there are plans to transfer the power to a new transmission station. She said if council is considering having another public meeting that they should do it now.
“I don’t want to see this being what and where EPCOR wants (the turbines), I want it to be what the farmer wants too,” said Sloetjes.
“We have to protect the neighbours with this and the hamlets or villages and I would like to see that addressed again,” said Van Diepenbeek. “I don’t want to see the setbacks doubled because it could prevent some farmers from getting a turbine on their property.”
He added that EPCOR has been good to move the turbines but Michael Smith, a representative of EPCOR, said that at this point moving would be a big issue. Smith said they have 109 turbines laid out using the proposed township setbacks.
“Increasing setback could only help the environmental screening, not hinder it,” said Van Diepenbeek.
Yet, Smith said that they have lease agreements with farmers and don’t want them to lose the right to have a tower.
Sloetjes said they could look at turbines on a individual basis and there may only be a few that would need to be modified which could help farmers. Chief Building Official Kirk Livingston said the turbines can be looked at individually through the rezoning bylaw.
Van Diepenbeek said that council needs to feel confident that there are not going to be health issues caused by the turbines and the bylaw cannot be passed until then. Walker-Bolton said they do not have any solid information so far that states there are any negative health affects.
Millian said he would like to see results for low frequency tests.
Smith said a study done by Jacques Whitford, consulting firm, should be released to council soon and shows that there is no impact of infra-sound (low frequency) that would cause harm.
Deputy Reeve Neil Rintoul said there are noise barriers around houses along highways to block noise and asked whether something similar could be done for turbines. Smith said the turbines are too high for a barrier and it would block the wind.
He added that a barrier would be put around the transmission station.
Van Diepenbeek said he is concerned that the public only has 30 days to comment on the environmental screening report, which is four inches thick. Smith said the 30-days was mandated by the Ministry of Environment. He said they have been receiving many comments and will continue to respond back as soon as possible.
Millian said someone from EPCOR should highlight the facts in the report to show council why they should go ahead with the project. Smith said he will bring the author of the report, from Stantec, to the next council meeting.
Ernie Marshall, of Colborne, said he is concerned with the report because it shows 30 hectares of trees being clear cut in Ashfield Twp. Van Diepenbeek said they were told that there would be no clear cutting and the county bylaw would not allow it.
Livingston said that the report has not been approved by the Ministry of Environment and therefore, nothing is finalized. He said EPCOR has not received a certificate of approval from the ministry.
Van Diepenbeek said the township should hire their own “neutral” consulting firm to review the study for them.
Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer Mark Becker said EPCOR would probably pay for the review to be done. Council directed Livingston to hire a consulting firm.
Francis Hogan, of Ashfield, said that it is good that the township is investigating the project but council needs to keep in mind that it’s for green energy.
“Canada is way behind in green energy and there may be some negative affects with this but there is a big wave of experts saying global warming is a huge problem,” said Hogan.
By Sara Bender
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