Opponents of the Enbridge wind farm in Kincardine are dismayed with an Ontario Municipal Board decision that allows the 110-turbine development to go ahead.
Enbridge will build 80-metre-tall turbines across a 16,000-hectare area of Kincardine.
Residents objected to 55 of the turbines, citing concerns over noise, shadow flicker and setback distances from neighbouring homes.
During seven weeks of evidence, they argued for tougher noise standards and bigger setbacks to prevent noise problems.
Instead, the Municipal Board decision approved the project and gave Enbridge 90 days to come up with a procedure to handle noise complaints.
That’s no comfort to residents, said spokesperson Kathy McCarrel.
“We were hoping to have our noise issues dealt with in a pro-active way,” she said. “We feel our community seems to be being used as some sort of experiment.”
A “bolder ruling” would have put residents on more equal footing with the energy company, McCarrel said.
“It’s very little reassurance for the community that is going to have to live with the turbines, and wait and wonder if it’s going to be their home they’re not going to be able to sleep in at night,” she said.
“They’re going to have to complain to the company and have to go through the entire rigamarole to have this mediated.”
The seven-week municipal board hearing this summer was the final avenue of appeal for wind farm opponents, McCarrel said.
But she’s disheartened by the time and cost that went into the effort for so little return.
“We do believe (our voices) were heard but positive action wasn’t taken from the information we brought forward,” she said.
“Had we known that the chair was not going to step on the toes of the Ministry of Environment, then we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and trouble.”
Decisions in other municipal board cases ordered “creative” ways to work beyond ministry standards, McCarrel said.
The decision released to opponents late Friday requires Enbridge to do more noise monitoring, set up a procedure for dealing with noise complaints and another one for dealing with emergencies, and orders changes to the way approvals are handled in multi-site developments.
McCarrel called those “small concessions” to opponents’ arguments. With the prospect of turbines sitting 450 metres from their homes, some residents are now wondering whether to sell their homes or wait and see if the complaints procedure works.
Construction on access roads and foundations for the turbines begins this summer, with the first towers expected to go up next spring.
The 181.5 mega-watt project is now scheduled to go on line in 2008.
24 July 2007
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