A proposed Harrow wind power installation has already pitted neighbour against neighbour, but few hurdles remain for the Toronto-based company that promoted the project at an open house held in Harrow, Feb. 27.
“We could start late this year,” said Mike Crawley, president of AIM PowerGen, speaking of the Harrow project located just southwest of Harrow.
Crawley said AIM is close to completing all the necessary studies, including environmental assessments, but construction would likely not begin until 2009.
The Harrow project includes 24 large-scale wind turbines, about 80 metres at the hub, with blades reaching about 120 metres high. AIM expects to situate the turbines on farmland at four sites, both north and south of Gore Road, between County Roads 13 and 41.
The largest cluster of turbines, about 15, is planned almost directly north of the Bellcreft Beach area. A three-turbine site is about one kilometre southwest of Harrow’s most southern reaches.
Crawley said AIM is also awaiting the completion of a wind power planning study currently underway by consultants for the County of Essex.
“We will be compliant,” said Crawley, expressing confidence that the project would comply with the final planning decision set by the county.
A number of local residents attending the open house expressed concerns over the impact of the turbine development on themselves and the community, including health concerns, its proximity to bird migration routes and property values.
“How can so few people decide something that affects the lives of so many,” said Jacqueline Lavigne, a County Road 50 resident who was “livid” over the project and its location.
“This is the type of thing we were hoping to get away from,” said Lavigne, who moved her family from Harrow to the countryside, just a few years ago, to get away from urban sprawl and industrial development.
Lavigne expressed her concerns to Crawley, including issues on the flicker effect, noise, health, and property values, but left the open house unsatisfied with answers to her concerns.
“My questions were not answered, he answered my questions with questions,” she said.
Some residents expressed disappointment in photographs at the AIM open house, enhanced to show how the turbines might look from various locations. The photographs also excluded the new hydro poles and transmission lines that will come with the project.
Ansar Gafur, vice-president of external affairs for AIM, said new hydro poles would be installed, with two circuits, consisting of six wires, running much the length of the Gore Road and then along the 9th and 8th Concessions in Amherstburg. The power lines will connect to larger transmission lines already in place north of River Canard, he said.
Members of the Essex County Wind Action Group (ECWAG), which includes a growing number of Town of Essex residents, also attended the meeting. Advocates of clean, reliable and sustainable energy, ECWAG opposes “any irresponsible development of wind power in Essex County.”
ECWAG expressed a number of concerns over the AIM project, including its site location near major bird migration routes and residential areas along the Lake Erie shore, including the Village of Colchester.
“ECWAG is particularly concerned about the AIM project due to its proximity to so many homes and people,” said Bill Anderson, director of ECWAG, noting most other wind power developments in Ontario are located in sparsely populated areas.
AIM is planning an excursion for members of Essex Town Council to visit their Erie Shores wind power development near Port Burwell.
By Andy Comber
7 March 2008
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