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New windmill policy in works  

Brighton’s planners took a step closer to introducing a policy that will allow windmills to be erected, by holding open houses for the public outlining issues the municipality is weighing.

Ken Hurford, the town’s chief planner, said a policy was likely to be drawn up in the near future rather than being put on hold until the completion of a new official plan that appears likely to be delayed until the end of the year.

The enactment of a policy permitting wind turbines would bring the municipality into line with provincial directives on encouraging the development of renewable energy, after Brighton council put in place an interim control by-law prohibiting their erection earlier this year.

A consultant advising the municipality said the Ontario government was in the early stages of preparing a new policy statement on windmills that would be “beefed up” and would provide municipalities with more direction.

“It will give more guidance to municipalities and will explain how this is a good thing. It can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Heather Watson of Ecovue Consulting.

The municipality is drawing up proposals on maximum size for micro turbines that can be mounted directly onto homes; minimum setbacks for free-standing small scale windmills; and a process for considering industrial scale operations in future.

Ms. Watson said the rules would prevent erection of small turbines that were “teetering over a neighbour’s pool” while wind farms would not be able to obstruct “known migration routes or mean cutting down forests”.

The open houses were attended by only a handful of members of the public representing contrasting views on turbines.

One resident shared with planners her experience before moving to Brighton, when a windmill on farmland behind her home cast a moving shadow on the house as the sun reached a particular angle.

The resident said the sun’s rays falling on the blades of the turbines produced an “intense strobing effect” that was “like a psychedelic light show”.

She added the windmill was taken down by the farmer following a challenge from neighbours.

Planning consultant Peter Josephs said there tended to be “two camps” who either saw windmills as a “blight on the landscape” or an environmental imperative.

The consultant added that many of the complaints about windmills were better addressed by engineering improvements rather than planning laws

But as the industry matures and designs improve, he said planners had to make decisions that dealt with the question of how much of an imposition should be tolerated in pursuit of environmental goals.

“It is hard to keep both sides happy,” he said.

by Eoin Callan

The Independent

19 June 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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