The chief of the Saugeen First Nation has rejected suggestions Epcor Utilities Inc. is shelving a $300-million wind turbine project mainly because of native objections.
Chief Randall Kahgee said the First Nation tried to review the project as quickly as possible, but was asked for its stamp of approval only at the end of the planning process.
“We weren’t consulted at the 11th hour, it was more like the 12th hour,” he said.
Courts have ruled that native groups must be consulted when there is a development on land that is part of their traditional territory.
The main concern the First Nation has with the project is its possible environmental impact.
With hundreds of wind turbines being installed across the region, the impact on things such as migratory birds should be assessed, Kahgee said.
“Certainly we’ve never said we were opposed to the project,” he said. “Even green projects need to be looked at,” he said.
Township Deputy Reeve Neil Rintoul has blamed the Saugeen First Nation for delaying the project although it still hasn’t received final township approval.
Epcor spokesperson Neil Levine said there were a whole bunch of different issues that led to the decision not to proceed.
Shelving the project could cost Epcor as much as $20 million, the company has said.
The project has also run into opposition from some local residents concerned about noise from the turbines. They want the minimum setback distance from houses increased.
Meanwhile, Suncor Energy Products and Acciona Wind Energy Canada Inc. announced they have started full-scale construction of a $176-million wind farm near Ripley.
The joint-venture project involves construction of 38 two-megawatt turbines and is expected to start producing enough power for 24,000 homes by the end of the year.
Suncor Energy Products Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc.
Acciona Wind Energy Canada Inc. is owned 100 per cent by Spain-based Acciona S.A.
By John Miner
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