After multiple meetings, Chatham-Kent council has given the green light for Gengrowth to move ahead with four wind energy projects.
The Toronto-based company is planning a total of 20 turbines for Dover, Harwich, Howard and Tilbury East. Each of these five-turbine projects is rated at 10 megawatts of electricity.
“At the end of the day, this is something we need to support,” said Chatham Coun. Don Clarke during Monday’s five-hour planning meeting. The recommendation was deferred from March 25 – as well as Feb. 11 – when opponents raised concerns ranging from noise to wildlife impact.
Several final speakers brought forth the same issues Monday, but the majority of council believed they had heard enough.
North Kent Coun. Bill Weaver said although wind power is relatively new to the municipality, the research is out there.
“We’re far enough along in the curve of knowledge,” he said. “We can make an informed decision.”
Citing interest from numerous other wind companies, council also directed administration to examine the potential proliferation of turbines and measures to mitigate this.
Mayor Randy Hope called it crucial to focus on Gengrowth’s four specific projects, rather than the philosophy behind wind power.
He stressed the decision wouldn’t be precedent setting.
“This isn’t a blank cheque that’s given across Chatham-Kent,” he said.
However, a number of councillors expressed disappointment about how the whole process unfolded.
“I think we should have done our homework prior to Kruger (Energy),” said Chatham Coun. Anne Gilbert, referring to the Port Alma project. “We would not be backed into (this) position.”
Chatham Coun. Doug Sulman believed council should have scheduled another meeting given the issue’s importance to many residents.
“I don’t think we should be doing this so rapidly,” he said. “I think we should take our time to make the right decision.”
The next step is for Gengrowth to discuss a construction management plan with municipal staff.
By Trevor Terfloth
15 April 2008
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