There will be a little more room near the shores of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, as Chatham- Kent council tweaked its wind turbine setbacks Monday.
Setbacks – or minimum distances from a structure or site – have been a source of controversy since wind energy companies first showed an interest in the municipality.
Tom Storey of Storey Samways Planning provided a report with recommendations and comparisons to other centres with turbines.
He said the figures are realistic in minimizing the impact to residents, but also feasible for wind farm developers.
“The setbacks in our report are setbacks we can defend,” he said.
Chatham Coun. Doug Sulman offered a successful amendment to increase the setback around all of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair to one kilometre instead of 500 metres.
However, his bid to increase the listed 600-metre setback from settlement areas to one kilometre was narrowly defeated.
Off-site dwellings are at 300 metres, while on-site dwellings are at 250 metres.
In May, East Kent Coun. Jim Brown tabled a setback motion that was referred to staff for further information.
He wondered what became of his original figures, which were of a greater distance than those recommended in Monday’s report.
Brown said council should have had the chance to either vote for them or against them.
“What happened to my notice of motion?” he said. “Did it go to Never Never Land?
“Normally we deal with it.”
Brown tried to amend the recommendation to have four-kilometre setbacks from shorelines, 1.5- kilometres from settlement areas and 750 metres for off-site dwellings.
However, these were ultimately defeated.
South Kent Coun. Art Stirling said council should listen to those knowledgeable about which minimum distances are adequate.
“We have scientific experts around the horseshoe pulling numbers out of the air,” he said. “I question the value of the blind leading the blind here.”
Brown shot back at those who questioned his figures for being arbitrary.
“I extensively did a lot of work. I didn’t go home and dream these up,” he said. “The numbers are there so we can treat everyone the same.”
Wallaceburg Coun. Sheldon Parsons has long promoted the Sydenham Field Naturalists recommendations of three kilometres from Lake Erie and five kilometres from Lake St. Clair.
However, he was ready to move on.
“What we had was a healthy debate,” he said. “I think a consensus has been found.”
Monica Elmes, of the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, was in attendance Monday.
While she would have appreciated greater setbacks, she said the issue will probably continue to evolve.
Elmes believes too much is being done after the fact instead of using due process.
“This is all really backwards,” she said. “That is going to come back to haunt us.”
By Trevor Terfloth
22 July 2008
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