Chatham-Kent council will have to wait until April before deciding on four proposed wind projects.
A special planning meeting was held Tuesday night, with a standing-room-only crowd in attendance – including many in an overflow room watching a television feed.
During the five-hour session, more than 20 speakers – both for and against Toronto-based Gengrowth’s application – made their submissions.
Council had deferred the issue from Feb. 12 in order to allow residents to prepare presentations.
However, there are still six final speakers that will take the podium during the April 14 planning meeting.
Proposed projects on Marsh Line in Dover, Bisnett Line in Harwich, Front Line in Howard and Swanton Line in Tilbury East would each have five turbines.
Each of these projects are rated at 10 megawatts of electricity and have land parcels set aside for contingency purposes.
Council approved the Port Alma project in October 2006, which includes 44 turbines. Construction is under way.
Ridgetown resident Monica Elmes told council her worries about turbine noise as well as a lack of notification among many affected residents.
“I trust you won’t force us to endure a lower quality of life,” she said.
Rick Siddall, chairman of Stewardship Kent, said displacement of migratory birds is a concern for him, citing the uniqueness of the area.
He suggested five-kilometre setbacks from Lake St. Clair and three kilometres from Lake Erie.
“I think that will save us a whole lot of problems,” he said. “There really is not any corrective action when this starts up.”
Local lawyer Doug Desmond, who is representing some of those concerned, said property values could take a hit.
“These people have everything to lose and nothing to gain,” he said. However, Wallaceburg resident Jim Desat believes the municipality should pursue clean energy.
He said a recent fact-finding trip by several councillors to the Port Burwell wind farm should be taken into consideration, as they noted no serious concerns.
“I think we should listen to what they say when they get back,” he said.
Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s acting medical officer of health, issued a statement Tuesday saying that health concerns over wind farms are unjustified.
He said as long as guidelines are met with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, he can’t professionally oppose the planning application.
“It is my opinion that there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens,” he said.
Colby also said any downsides with wind energy need to be compared with the downsides of other energy technologies.
By Trevor Terfloth
26 March 2008
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