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Town of Essex, Ont., bans wind projects

Essex council approved a total ban Monday on new wind power projects –not just the large farms but small home kits as well.

Large-scale solar power projects are also banned by the interim control bylaw, which will be in effect for up to a year, while a countywide planning study on alternative energy projects is completed.

“This has polarized public opinion,” said town planner Chad Jeffery. Many support wind power projects as environmentally friendly options to burning fossil fuel or nuclear energy, he said. Others oppose them because of noise, esthetics, or impact on bird migration, he added.

Several wind farms have been proposed in Essex County. Some are undergoing environmental assessments with construction starts hoped for in 2008.

But Jeffery said the smaller wind turbines put together by home hobbyists from kits available at Canadian Tire stores, for example, raise similar issues.

The smaller wind turbines for home use rotate at higher speeds, can be a little noisier, and are closer to neighbours’ ears, Jeffery pointed out.

Existing zoning bylaws for home accessory use of wind turbines provide for as little as five feet of separation from neighbouring lot lines, according to Jeffery’s report to council.

The County of Essex and planners for its seven municipalities have agreed that a comprehensive study of alternative energy systems should be done to update municipal official plans and zoning bylaws on a consistent basis.

While the senior governments seem to be pushing alternative energy projects, relatively little guidance has been available on regulatory issues, Jeffery said.

The study will make recommendations for locations for large-scale projects to minimize impact on birds and other wildlife.

Gary Rennie, Windsor Star
© The Windsor Star 2007