The appellants of the Enbridge Ontario Wind Power project wrapped up their portion of the turbine noise arguments at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing last week.
The hearing reconvened after the holiday weekend on May 23, with testimony by meteorological and atmospheric specialist Dr. Jim Young, who sat for part of Thursday as well. He was followed by acoustic engineer John Coulter later that day, with Enbridge and the Municipality cross-examining him on Friday.
Both were arguing that there will be unwanted noise impacts to local residents, if the turbines remain in their current proximity to homes; the closest of which is 450 metres.
Peggy Hutchison, counsel for the appellants, gave a recap on the week.
Hutchison said Young’s arguments were centred around wind shear and the Vandenberg study, which argues wind can be stronger and louder at 80 and 100 metres off the ground, while being calmer and quieter closer to ground level at 10 and 30 metres, where measurements have been taken. These conditions or “˜barometric layering’, which Young argues are more pronounced within the Municipality of Kincardine, make for louder and more audible turbine noises at quieter times in the evening and in the fall and winter months.
Young also looked at data from the Kingsbridge wind farm near Goderich, while comparing them to similar wind conditions facing the Enbridge project. Hutchison said he used “˜conservative’ estimations to come up with this information, as the exact data wasn’t available.
Coulter, on the other hand, argued Enbridge’s noise expert, David Lightstone, didn’t use the worst-case scenario when predicting the amount of noise expected to be generated by the project. He said using Young’s data from the Goderich wind farm should be relevant, because of its close geographich proximity to the Enbridge project.
He said he expects the turbines will exceed the Ministry of Environment’s (MOE) noise requirements (40 db) on many occasions each year, because the worst-case hasn’t been looked into. If the MOE Certificate of Approval for noise doesn’t address this issue and make changes, this could be the case.
He said “˜urbanites’ who have moved to the country from the city are most likely to complain about the noise. About 70 per cent of the population will be bothered by these types of noise, or may have no problem with it. The remaining 30 per cent are either ultra-sensitive to the noise, or will be completely insensitive to it.
His solution to fix the problem was to have Enbridge move the turbines further away from homes, install technology to dampen the sound or slow the turbine if it exceeds the noise regulations.
Coulter said if the Ministry of Environment fails to come through with the noise requirements, the municipality could step up and set guidelines.
Municipality of Kincardine counsel Steve O’Melia said the expertise isn’t available locally, but Coulter said the fees to bring in an expert could be paid by Enbridge as part of the agreement.
O’Melia said the project has already went through a “rigorous” noise assessment and said he’s satisfied that the expertise used to conduct the testing is solid. He said the municipality doesn’t have experts on staff locally, so it relies on experts like those hired by Enbridge.
Experts for Enbridge and the Municipality will address the issues this week.
In related news, Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Laurel Broten, rejected appeals calling for the project to be elevated to a full Environmental Assessment (EA) last week.
O’Melia said this reinforces the original decision to maintain the Environmental Screening report (ESR) from the director of the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, (EAAB) James O’Mara.
So far, with close to 100 pieces of evidence filed, he said the OMB hearing has a lot of information to address.
“It has been a large case based on the issues and the extent in which they’ve been examined,” said O’Melia. “It has certainly been a significant hearing.”
Enbridge counsel Jane Pepino said the hearing resumed Monday with testimony by Enbridge’s engineer from Calgary, David Baker, who dealt with the issues of wind profiles and shadow flicker.
He was to be followed up by Dr. Al Lightstone, another acoustic engineer involved with the project who will look at the process undertaken to construct the Environmental Screening Report.
Out of order, the appellants were expected to call Goderich resident Wayne Connor on Tuesday, due to scheduling issues. Connor outlined his personal experience of living 477 metres from the closest turbine at the Kingsbridge project.
The OMB will then hear from Brian Howe, an acoustic engineer who was involved with the Pubnico Wind Farm. His work came up earlier in the trail, during testimony from Nova Scotia resident Daniel d’Entremont, who said he and his family were driven from their homes by turbine noise.
Pepino said she expects they will call Ottawa engineer Marc LeBlanc as their final witness, to address issues raised by turbine ice and blade throw.
The hearing is then expected to adjourn for two days, to give both parties a chance to compile the information that’s been put forward so far. Final arguments could commence the following week, between of June 4 to 7.
A total of 38 zoning bylaws, half of the 110 turbine project, are under appeal as part of the hearing within Bruce Twp.
By Troy Patterson
Kincardine News Staff
30 May 2007
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