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Huron-Kinloss Twp. Council hoping wind turbines developers will follow setback guidelines  

Credit:  By Sara Bender, Lucknow Sentinel, www.lucknowsentinel.com 1 September 2010 ~~

Huron-Kinloss Twp. Council is hoping wind turbine developers will follow their setback guidelines despite the Ontario Green Energy Act.

“They’re here to stay, whether we like it or not so we need to find a way to work with these wind turbine developers,” said Mayor Mitch Twolan, at the township council meeting on Aug. 23.

Council agreed to a setback for wind turbines of 1,000 metres from residences and a two kilometre setback from any town, including Ripley, Lucknow and Point Clark. These setbacks will be included as a note in the township’s official plan as the Green Energy Act supercedes the township’s zoning bylaw provisions.

In July, council removed the policies for wind turbines from their official pan but it was recommended by county planner Heather James to leave the policies in the back of the official plan as township “guidelines” for developers.

Coun. Jim Hanna said he “curses” the Ontario government for bringing the Green Energy Act into effect because the township’s wind turbine policy now has “no teeth.” He said he told a wind turbine developer at a recent public meeting in Ripley, that if they want to turn the township into wind turbine advocates then they should accept some of the township’s ideas.

Coun. Anne Eadie first recommended a 1,200m setback from residences. Coun. Jeff Elliott said a 1,200m setback would limit some farmers from being able to accommodate a turbine on their land, if they wanted, and therefore recommended a 1,000m setback.

Eadie said if a 1,000m setback is better then turbines should be equipped with noise dampening software which is a device that has been proven to soften the low frequency noises from the turbines. She also recommended that “meaningful” public participation be included in the development process.

“We have to protect all our residents the best way we can,” said Eadie.

Coun. Don Murray said that at a meeting with Huron-East Twp. Council and an anti-wind turbine group called HEAT, the group wanted the wind turbine developers to pay for any noise testing for residences. He said Huron-Kinloss should include that recommendation in their guidelines as well.

Murray also suggested that there be a 2km setback from Lake Range Drive.

Twolan questioned who looks after residences to ensure the wind turbine developers follow their model plan after it is submitted to the MOE.

“Do we trust that the plans are to the model submitted after it is developed?” said Twolan.

Chief Building Official Matt Farrell asked who the township is not trusting – the wind turbine companies, ministries or building officials.

“The Green Energy Act is just a bulldozer. Even if our policies have no teeth, these are questions that need to be asked and to our elected officials at the next provincial election,” said Hanna.

Eadie added that there should be an appeal process if problems arise, including with overhead wires or the electricity grid. She then questioned who sets guidelines for filtered electricity as the electrical coming from the wind turbines in unfiltered.

“I hate to see the township get into something we have absolutely no control over,” said Farrell.

Hanna asked if there would be a policy for decommissioning wind turbines while Eadie also asked if there would be a policy for setback distances from roadways. Administrator Mary Rose Walden said those township policies will be included in the guidelines for wind turbines and the zoning bylaw with be brought back to the next township meeting, on Sept. 8, for review and discussion again.

“The truth of the matter is that we have a lot of angry people in our township and we are trying to take some of the onus off of our building official,” said Twolan. “We have to come up with policies we can all agree with and find a middle ground here.”

Bob Harvey, a member of a new group called HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeshore Turbines), said the group is not completely opposed to wind turbine development but they want to protect the health of township residents. He added that the group appreciates the support and efforts made by township council.

“There is a tremendous amount of fear that these (wind turbines) are going to impact people,” said Harvey. “The proposed turbines in the Bluewater project are much bigger than the ones already in the Ripley area.”

He said it has been reported that low frequency noise (LFN) from wind turbines affects 10 per cent of the world’s population. Also, Harvey said 35 people in the Ripley area have been experiencing health issues due to LFN as well.

“There is a serious problem occurring here,” said Harvey. “We understand that we need to cut back on carbon in Ontario but we don’t want to see Ontarians have to pay the price with their health to accomplish that.”

Hed: Huron-Kinloss opposed to development of offshore wind turbines

Writer: By Sara Bender

Lucknow Sentinel

Story: Huron-Kinloss Twp. council is opposed to the development of offshore wind facilities in Lake Huron that would negatively affect the natural and cultural heritage.

That is the statement the township is issuing to the Ministry of Environment as part of the Renewable Energy Approval requirements for offshore wind facilities. The MOE is accepting public comments on the requirements for offshore wind development until Sept. 7. The policy document is posted on the Environmental Registry website at www.ebr.gov.on.ca. Enter 011-0089 in the registry number field.

Chief Building Official Matt Farrell said he researched offshore wind turbine studies to help create the township’s statement. He said one study in Europe showed that 93 per cent of lakeshore residents are annoyed with the visual site of offshore wind turbines and a 23 kilometre distance from the shoreline was recommended for offshore wind turbine development.

Farrell added that the province has approved the first offshore wind turbine development off of Wolfe Island, near Kingston, that will be located 5km from shore.

Coun. Don Murray recommended that the township’s statement be forwarded to the Huron-Bruce MP and MPP.

Mayor Mitch Twolan said he questioned MP Ben Lobb about his position on offshore wind turbines and he stated that he is not in favour of any development.

“The federal government needs to come clear with their position. I think the Great Lakes are their jurisdiction. This can’t all be up to the province to decide,” said Coun. Anne Eadie.

She added that she is concerned with the issue of ice build up on offshore wind turbines. Eadie also recommended that the comments from the Lake Huron Coastal Conversation Centre be included with the township’s statement to the MOE.

The township’s statement to the MOE reads:

“In the past, Huron-Kinloss has recognized and supported the need for renewable energy in Ontario. We currently have one on-shore wind facility operational with several more proposed for the future. We are also pleased to have several micro-fit solar projects being installed.

“We were very concerned when the province introduced O.Reg.359/09 in September 2009, which removed the requirement for municipal planning approvals under the planning act for renewable energy projects. We learned through previous experience that the public interests need to be recognized and their concerns were best addressed at the local level of government. With more renewable energy projects on the horizon, our residents are still looking to us to provide direction to these proposals and protect their interests.

“Huron-Kinloss does not support the development of offshore wind facilities in areas adjacent to the municipality or in any part of the Great Lakes water system where they will negatively affect the natural and cultural heritage. We, as well as many coastal areas in Ontario have become tourism destinations based largely on the high valued landscapes that the Great Lakes provide. The coastal area is highly developed and constantly growing to accommodate those wanting to be close to Great Lake’s natural brilliance. The municipality, through levies and tourism expenditure, relies heavily on these shoreline areas to maintain the local economy and infrastructure. The development of offshore wind facilities will only have a negative affect on areas in which they are adjacent. Regions with these facilities will most certainly lose their identity as a natural retreat and the associated economic benefits.

“We have long been known for our natural and cultural landscapes and have made it a symbol of the municipality. We have had to incorporate provincially mandated policies into our planning documents to protect the natural heritage of the shoreline. If offshore wind development is allowed, the development and construction of these turbines can cause a disruption to the dynamic beach that would not normally be permitted.

“Potential onshore visibility impacts depend on a number of factors; the greatest of which is the distance between the observer and the wind turbine. For a normal 1.8-meter tall person standing on a shoreline, the horizon is approximately 5 km away, but for a 120-meter tall wind turbine to be hidden from the shoreline, it would have to be 47 km away. Navigational lights at the top of the nacelle of a turbine would still be visible 40 km from shoreline.

“We agree with the position of the Lake Huron Centre for Costal Conservation in that there is a lack of detailed information on the environmental impacts that the construction and operation of turbines will have. Therefore Huron-Kinloss takes the position that: No offshore wind turbines are placed within 24 km of the shoreline so that the natural and cultural heritage of the Great Lakes shoreline landscape is preserved for residents and visitors to revere. Independent research is undertaken to examine potential impacts to water quality, aquatic community as well as offshore, near shore and onshore ecosystems; and regardless of whether offshore wind turbines are considered by some to be visual pleasing, they should not be placed in a setting that throughout time has remained perpetual and pristine.

“Huron-Kinloss feels very strongly about their position on this issue and we hope that these recommendations are received with the highest regard.”

Source:  By Sara Bender, Lucknow Sentinel, www.lucknowsentinel.com 1 September 2010

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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