Leamington has joined the Town of Essex in approving a one-year ban on new wind and solar power projects until a county planning study is done to help put some controls in place.
But in Kingsville earlier this week, council rejected the idea of even a temporary ban. Kingsville Deputy Mayor Katharine Gunning said most councillors felt it was unfair to pass temporary restrictions that could hinder a large wind farm proposed for parts of Kingsville and Lakeshore. The project is undergoing environmental assessment. Town council has been kept well informed of its progress over the years, Gunning said.
Leamington and Essex both passed interim control bylaws now in effect for as long as a year or until planning regulations and bylaws are updated. Leamington Deputy Mayor Rob Schmidt said the town has been getting applications for alternative energy projects, but doesn’t have specific guidelines for them. It is unfortunate municipalities haven’t reacted sooner to update their official plans and zoning bylaws to deal with wind, solar and other energy alternatives, he said. While the large wind farms must undergo environmental assessments, the town still needs policies of its own, Schmidt said.
The County of Essex is co-ordinating a study on wind and other alternative energy systems in co-operation with planners of seven municipalities. Estimated cost for the study is $80,000. It should be finished by the end of the year, county planner Bill King said. The goal of the exercise is to have consistent planning guidelines for wind farms and other alternative energy projects throughout the county, King said. Essex planner Chad Jeffery said the town needs some guidance on a host of questions about alternative energy systems in both rural and urban settings.
Concerns about noise and safety for neighbours near wind turbines in urban areas have to be addressed, Jeffery said. However, the town isn’t trying to discourage new energy alternatives and will lift the interim control bylaw as quickly as it can, Jeffery said. Gunning said Kingsville felt it had adequate control over existing projects and the county study would be completed fairly quickly.
The Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary has made Kingsville famous, so questions about the impact on bird migration from wind farms should be addressed by the county study, Gunning said.
Gary Rennie, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2007
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