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Essex County engages firm for wind power study  

As a result of increased pressure on energy supply, there are now Federal and Provincial policies that actively promote renewable energy projects. As renewable energy becomes a more common land use and public awareness is increased, compatibility with existing land uses will need to be considered by County and local municipalities when considering applications under the Planning Act.

The challenge for the County and its member municipalities is to provide opportunities for renewable energy facilities, including large scale wind energy turbines, while ensuring that adverse effects are eliminated or minimized. County and local planning policies that reflect local physical, social, economic and environmental sensibilities will play a key role in the responsible siting of renewable energy projects.

As a result, the County of Essex has engaged The Jones Consulting Group to complete a Windpower and Renewable Energy Planning Study. The Jones Consulting Group has recently assisted other municipalities in the development of renewable energy land use policies in the Town of The Blue Mountains, Municipality of Grey Highlands, Niagara Region and Town of Niagara on the Lake. The consulting firm is based out of Barrie.

As part of the approved work plan, The Jones Consulting Group will work together with a Steering Committee established by the County consisting of the County Manager of Planning Services and the local municipal planners, to proactively deal with renewable energy planning applications. The comprehensive study has now commenced and includes the following work program:

Background Research Paper

This background document intends to summarize land use planning issues associated with renewable energy projects together with local characteristics that are relevant for the development of land use planning policies. This study will form the foundation for future consultation with stakeholders and the development of draft planning policies.

Determination of Draft Planning Policy

The Planning Study will then suggest a planning policy approach for renewable energy projects through discussions with the Steering Committee, government agencies and any other interested stakeholders. The goal of this stage is to create a clear and consistent regulatory environment for windpower and other renewable energy projects throughout the County. In terms of consultation, the project will include project meetings with the Steering Committee, public information sessions, and conference calls with key representatives from ratepayer groups and other interested stakeholders and area professionals.

Documents to be prepared include:

o Specific Official Plan policy for the County of Essex,

o A single Official Plan policy, Zoning By-law provisions and Site Plan Control requirements for local municipalities to use as a template.

The project timeline seeks to develop and implement new policies at the County of Essex by the end of 2007. All information about the study will be posted on the County of Essex website http://www.countyofessex.on.ca/countyservices/planningdevelopment_whatsnew.asp.

To obtain further information or request to participate in the Windpower and Renewable Energy Policy Development process please contact:
The Jones Consulting Group Ltd.
300 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 100, Barrie ON L4N 0B4 Tele. 705.734.2538
Attention: Ray Duhamel rduhamel@jonesconsulting.com or Tim Cane tcane@jonesconsulting.com

Special to the Echo
Tuesday July 17, 2007
amherstburgecho.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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