Despite what the minister of natural resources said two years ago, wind turbines are again a possibility in Lake Erie.
The renewed interest in the lake is because the ministry has lifted the “freeze” …and “will be accepting new applications in the near future,” says Leamington planner Tracey Pillon-Abbs.
The report from Pillon-Abbs surprised several town councillors last week, particularly in view of the large groundswell of public opposition to the first proposal of wind turbines to generate power.
The freeze was lifted in January, she reported.
Pillon-Abbs said there have been revisions made to the study process for wind turbines, including the environmental assessment (EA) which ensures that environment and technical issues are fully reviewed by qualified professionals.
“And more importantly, it provides for extensive public and agency review.”
To a question from Deputy Mayor Rob Schmidt, Pillon-Abbs said the new proposal is the “same project” planned two years ago.
But its size has been scaled down. She said 15 turbines are planned, generating 30 megawatts of power.
Three locations in Lake Erie were initially identified, off of Kingsville, Ruthven and Leamington.
Schmidt said he thought the ministry had made it clear the “project was inappropriate…the word was, it was dead.”
“I realize it is a smaller amount…I’m surprised the ministry has changed its policy.”
He noted that Essex County will soon have its zoning criteria completed on wind turbines, and on land, will not be permitted “within five kilometers” of the shoreline.
“I’m not against wind power, but not in the lake.”
Councillor Rick Atkin said he feels “it is being crammed down our throats.”
As for timelines, he didn’t want the municipality taken unawares in the process.
“I do not want to get caught at the last hour,” he said, and wondered if Pillon-Abbs will be receiving the applications.
She said the ministry has a “specific process” and she will provide the information as it becomes available.
Councillor Hilda Macdonald was upset to find the municipality was only listed as a “commenting agency” in the review procedure.
“We’re a stakeholder, we shouldn’t take a back seat.”
Development director Doug Morrish noted the town will certainly be aware of many details early because the electric cables have to come ashore.
“They need to use our land, we’ll get the reports for those connections,” he told council.
26 March 2008
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