A wind-turbine plant on Amherst Island may be years away, but already it has turned into a lightning-rod issue in the rural community southwest of Kingston.
Last night, it was standing room only at the Amherst Island Public School, where more than 100 residents attended a meeting of a coalition against a wind-power development in the area.
The Coalition to Protect Amherst Island held the event to drum up support for their cause.
“We’re not against wind energy, but we are against the developers who want to create an industrial-scale wind plant,” said Peter Large, a retired engineer and coalition member.
He was one of six members of the coalition who spoke at last night’s meeting. Among the presenters were a retired international economist, a Queen’s professor, a retired chief of surgery for the Canadian Forces and a litigation lawyer.
Their message to the residents was industrial wind turbines aren’t welcome on Amherst Island.
Large told the crowd the coalition is against a large-scale wind plant because of health risks, environmental concerns and the impact on the quality of life on Amherst Island.
“We encourage you to become members [to the coalition],” he told the crowd.
A family membership to the coalition costs $25.
Large also informed them of a petition the coalition will send to Loyalist Township.
If a formal proposal for a wind farm comes forward, the developer will have to get planning approval from the municipality before the project can go ahead. So far, no such request has been made.
However, some landowners on Amherst Island have optioned their land for lease for a wind development to Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. and GAIA Power Inc. out of Kingston.
Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. this week told the Whig-Standard that a wind-turbine development on Amherst Island is a long way off and likely wouldn’t happen for years.
The firm has also proposed an 86-turbine wind plant on nearby Wolfe Island, where there has been major discontent over the project. Two residents recently took their concerns to the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincial planning authority, and successfully convinced Canadian Hydro to make changes to their proposal.
Last December, Canadian Hydro bought Vector Wind Energy Inc., an Ottawa company that had done the early work on a wind plant on Amherst Island.
Vector Wind Energy Inc.’s website states that the Amherst Island proposal is for 35 to 40 turbines to be erected in the central part of the island.
In an interview with the Whig, Large said residents on Amherst Island have been paying close attention to the controversy over the proposed wind plant on Wolfe Island.
Amherst Island residents have learned that it’s important to pay attention and to become involved early on in the process and to make sure the public understands exactly what’s proposed, he said.
The coalition’s members, of which there are about two dozen, have already made their mind up about a wind project in their community. They don’t want it and plan to fight it.
“I hope this has been informative and I hope you’re going away a little more informed,” Janet Grace, chairwoman of the coalition, told the crowd.
“It’s absolutely critical that we have your support on this.”
By Jennifer Pritchett
23 August 2007
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