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Martin wants public engaged in wind farm proposals

Massive wind energy developments shouldn’t be established without planning and consultation by those the farms could affect, said Sault MP Tony Martin.

Martin has developed a wind energy strategy that he believes would serve areas communities and address citizens’ concerns.

“I am not opposed to renewables. We have to go there and need to go there to generate energy in the future and wind is a major part of that but we need to avoid development with little planning or consultation,” he said. “We need to get the people involved that are most affected by the decisions that are made.”

Martin has been working with Save Our Algoma Region (SOAR) over the past few moths, trying to develop a strategy that could be used to ensure the area’s needs are met with any massive wind energy developments.

Soar formed in August in response to various plans for wind development in the area, including possibly placing wind turbines in Lake Superior.

The Ontario Power Authority approved 184 large scale projects in April under its Feed-In Tariff Program, which pays developers to contribute 10 kilowats or more of renewable energy back into the provincial grid.

Contracts were offered to two projects north of the Sault including a 60,000 kW (60 megawatt) wind farm at Montreal River Harbour and a 25,000 kW Goulais Wind Farm, which Confederation Power Inc. plans to employ 10 to 16 wind turbines by 2013.

Sault MPP David Orazietti had criticized Martin and SOAR last month, arguing that the province takes environmental and health issues seriously.

Martin wants to see all information on proposed developments be made readily available and transparent so that area communities and residents can make informed decision.

Orazietti had said the public had opportunity for feedback, including on the Environmental Registry or at Ministry of Natural Resources or Ministry of Environment offices.

Martin said he also wants to see “substantial” environmental prescreening of the projects, including studies on how the wind turbines could affect fish habitat and wetlands.

“We need to determine whether it is cost effective to have these big projects on Lake Superior or if they will negatively impact our eco tourism in Northern Ontario,” Martin said.

Area communities and First Nations should be included in the decision-making process and should get some direct benefits from any development that includes a government investment, he said.

“If you don’t engage, don’t talk to people then we’ll see the big turbines on every piece of land between here and Thunder Bay,” he said.

He also says that government needs to focus more on reducing energy consumption instead of just finding other ways to crate it.

Martin welcomes the return of the federal government’s ecoEnergy for Home Retrofit program that saw homeowners receive energy grants to improve energy efficiency in their homes.

Martin believes that the all levels of government need to develop an inventor y of suitable sites for large scale renewable power development, taking into account community input and studies on potential health, noise and environmental concerns.

SOAR and Martin will be co-hosting a second information about wind turbines on Thurs., Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at Alexander Henry. All are welcome to attend.

[rest of article available at source]