The township that has a windmill as its municipal symbol has decided how far its wind turbines must be set back from homes.
And that could again set in motion the construction of another 69 wind turbines in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township, which hugs the Lake Huron shoreline north of Goderich.
Township residents and council have wrangled for about 18 months over the project.
Last week, council recommended a minimum 450-metre setback from homes and a minimum 600-metre setback from the edge of any hamlet.
“I kind of think it’s the middle of the road” between what advocates and critics have recommended, Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek said this week.
Some critics had wanted at least a one-kilometre setback and insisted that noise issues made the turbines potentially a health hazard if located any closer.
EPCOR plans to build another 69 turbines, with a production totalling 160 megawatts, as part of its $300-million Kingsbridge II project.
The company’s 22 turbines north of Goderich already provide enough energy to power more than 12,000 homes when they’re at peak operation.
But plans for the second phase were put on hold as objections came forward and as the township studied distance setbacks as part of its revisions to a consolidated zoning bylaw.
The township council’s decision “helps, but we’re not there yet,” EPCOR spokesperson Neil Levine said yesterday.
The project still needs to pass other hurdles, including reaching agreements with First Nations, finding a turbine supplier and organizing contractors.
The project initially was estimated to cost $300 million.
Levine said he “couldn’t speculate” on how that total has changed but he did say worldwide steel prices have escalated and turbine suppliers are in high demand.
For farmers on whose properties the turbines would be located, the turbines are an extra source of revenue.
But some others say the health impacts of turbine noise levels haven’t been studied enough.
Others are concerned about the effect on wildlife, including migratory birds.
The proposed turbines would be concentrated in an area four- by three- country blocks, north of Goderich in Huron County.
Any future turbines must adhere to the setback rules; and any new home construction must also be far enough away from the turbines.
But it’s not a done deal just yet.
There’s a final public municipal meeting set for April 17, at which residents can again critique the bylaw.
Then, anyone objecting to it may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board within 21 days of its passage.
But Van Diepenbeek is confident public consultation has been thorough.
“We really did our homework on this one, I feel.”
Debora Van Brenk
Free Press Reporter
12 March 2008
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