Enbridge has a number of planning hurdles to overcome in the coming weeks, as public opposition to its wind proposal continues.
The Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project Environmental Screening Report (ESR) was accepted by the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch (EAAB) on March 19, after 21 requests were issued to elevate the project to a full Environmental Assessment (EA) last year.
“(The EAAB) evaluated all the environmental work that was done, using the various criteria,” said Debbie Boukydis, Enbridge’s director of public and government affairs. “From that they determined we met the ESR requirements.”
Boukydis said they knew a wind project had never been elevated to a full EA and awaited the result with confidence.
As of the April 2 deadline to appeal the EAAB decision, 10 individual appeals were filed from the original 21 requests.
Boukydis said Minister of Environment (MOE) James O’Mara now has 45 days to review the EAAB decision, before making a final ruling.
Kathy McCarrel, a resident at the border of Saugeen Shores and the Municipality of Kincardine, is one of the 10 appellants fighting the EAAB decision.
McCarrel was concerned that the decision will be looked upon as an example to other wind projects, ultimately impacting future decisions across Ontario, being that Enbridge’s is the largest proposed in Canada to date.
The documents she received regarding the EAAB decision relied on Enbridge’s figures and weren’t checked by a third, unbiased party, which McCarrel said is a “˜proponent-driven’ solution and not in the best interest of the public.
“They’ve relied too much on Enbridge and haven’t gone out and done their own research,” she said. “If they had another look at the issue of noise, they could use it as a good example to resolve future projects.”
Enbridge and McCarrel are both looking towards April 23, when the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) will begin hearing the 27 zoning appeals on the 110-turbine, 182-megawatt project, at the Municipality of Kincardine administration building.
Zoning appeals have been filed around turbine placement, in relation to setbacks from property lines and homes, along with issues like turbine noise, shadow flicker, ice throw and impacts on bird and bat migration to be addressed.
“We’re ready with what we believe is a solid case against the inappropriate placing of the turbines,” said McCarrel.
She said they’ll finally be able to get an “˜actual’ map of every turbine site, which Enbridge had failed to provide to help shape their appeal preparations.
“For a multi-million dollar project, you’d think they’d be able to put together an accurate map,” said McCarrel.
She said the public, along with councillors, both local and throughout Bruce County, should witness the hearings to learn and see how such a major development will be handled.
“The municipalities have a significant role to play in addressing these projects,” McCarrel said. “We’re doing this out of money from our own pockets. We want as many people in the county to be informed and to use this as an example.”
Boukydis said the OMB hearing’s timeframe could vary, depending on the information put forward.
“It could be up to eight-weeks of hearings,” she said. “There will be specified appeals for specified issues. It really depends on the complexity of the case.”
The next step also depends on the MOE’s decision to accept the appeals requesting elevation of the project to a full EA, which will come no later than mid-May.
If all the appeals are resolved and Enbridge is allowed to move ahead, its 110 zoning bylaws will go back to Municipality of Kincardine council for final approval. Boukydis said if council approves the bylaws, preliminary construction could begin as early as this fall, but most likely in spring 2008.
“We’ve had strong local support,” said Boukydis. “Landowners have been very vocal in their support of the project.”
At the moment, the company is not looking towards a second phase for the project, but she said they’d “always be open” to the option in the future.
“For now our focus is on the building,” Boukydis said. “We’ve worked very hard to construct our wind project in a way that will have the least impact as possible.”
The construction roads and substations would be first to be built, followed by the foundations and structures later in 2008.
Kincardine News Staff
4 April 2007
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