The company behind a $275-million wind farm wants to start work in the spring, although the plans appear to be bogged down in bureaucracy.
Canadian Hydro, a Calgary-based company, already operates a 45-turbine facility in Melancthon Township.
The company is seeking approvals for 88 more turbines in the second phase of the wind project in Shelburne, Ont.
The project is facing a great deal of opposition and will require hundreds of approvals – from the federal government to the township.
The Ministry of the Environment has received 14 requests to have the project subjected to a full environmental assessment.
But before the ministry deals with the requests, the provincial government has to wrap up consultation with the Six Nations.
Six Nations representatives have expressed concern about the environmental impact of the wind project and the effect on aboriginal land claims.
John Steele, an Environment Ministry spokesperson, said consultation with the Chippewa of Saugeen and Nawash are underway.
The environmental screening process has been put on hold until those consultations are completed.
Steele said the Six Nations complained about inadequate consultation and the potential impact the project could have on land that is subject to native claims.
Margaret Taylor, a spokesperson for Canadian Hydro, said the company wasn’t aware the screening process had been held up pending the Six Nations consultation.
“We were expecting approval in a month or two,” she said.
Information provided by the company indicates the project should get started next spring and be in operation the following year.
Once construction starts, access roads will be installed, power lines and substations built, and the foundations for turbines – and, finally, the turbines themselves – put up.
Canadian Hydro announced a one-year delay in July, a move the company said would cost it about $10 million.
The company said it won’t start construction until all the necessary approvals have been received.
In the meantime, huge turbine blades and other components are being hauled by truck from Hamilton and other areas where suppliers are based through Puslinch Township and up Highway 6 to the project site.
Nadine Tishchhauser, a planner with Amaranth Township, said the township had concerns about the proposal and requested clarification of some issues.
The townships need to approve site plans as well as changes to zoning bylaws and official plans before the project goes ahead.
Tishchhauser said the company is taking the project to the Ontario Municipal Board.
A meeting is planned in February with the board to identify the issues.
And apart from municipal, provincial and federal government approvals, the Grand River Conservation Authority has its own issues to deal with.
The authority has to issue more than 100 separate permits for the wind project.
Spokesperson Dave Schultz said the authority is concerned whenever access roads, towers, cables or other infrastructure cross creeks or streams or encroach on wetlands.
The authority is working with the company on overcoming these concerns in the final design, Schultz said.
John Parr, a Melancthon Township farmer, is among the 14 parties who have filed requests for more detailed environmental studies of the wind project.
Noise and safety are among the concerns cited by Parr and others.
“At some point, someone has to decide how many of these will be allowed in one municipality and how many is too many,” he said.
By Bob Burtt
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