A local lawyer, representing the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, is calling for an environmental assessment for the entire municipality.
Doug Desmond has sent the 10-page request to both the environmental assessment branch and environmental approvals branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
Desmond is basing his request on the fact a minimum of 40 per cent of the municipality is being studied for various wind power proposals. According to his submission, this could result in up to 1,000 or more wind turbines being constructed on the north shore of Lake Erie and east shore of Lake St. Clair.
A concern Desmond raises is the cumulative effects of all these wind power projects.
“If all the proponents were successful with respect to their applications to place wind turbines in south and west Chatham-Kent, it would currently be on the basis of the minimal environmental requirements as set out in the Environmental Assessment Act . . .” Desmond stated. “The municipality of Chatham-Kent would most surely suffer extraordinary environmental and economic harm in this scenario.”
The Chatham Daily News couldn’t reach Desmond for comment on Thursday.
Chatham-Kent planning consultant Tom Storey said he hasn’t heard of an entire municipality coming under an environmental assessment (EA).
“I think the process is there through the Planning Act and Environmental Assessment Act to deal with these issues,” he said.
Storey said it will be up to the MOE to decide if a full EA is needed, noting the ministry is “aware of what’s happening here. It’s not like it’s a secret down here.”
He said, “EAs are intended to be very broad in scope so you don’t miss anything.”
An EA looks at everything from the social, health and land use impacts of a project, he added.
There are regulations for electrical projects under the Environmental Assessment Act, Storey said, which are divided into different categories. Projects viewed as having minimal impact, such as a solar farm or wind project generating under two megawatts of electricity, fall under category A, he said.
He added wind projects that would generate over two megawatts of power are classified in the B category, which requires an EA be done, but not a full environmental impact assessment.
Plans for a major hydro project or building a nuclear facility would require a full-scale EA, he said.
Desmond’s submission details specific concerns surrounding the environment, economy, natural features and heritage, agriculture and rural residents.
By Ellwood Shreve
29 February 2008
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