CHATHAM – A citizens’ group is challenging the recent approval of a wind farm near Thamesville and citing concerns about low-frequency noise.
Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. (formerly Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group), as well as a non-participating resident in the Kent Breeze Wind Power Project, filed the appeal this week.
Suncor Energy acquired the eight-turbine project from original developers Kent Breeze Corp. and MacLeod Windmill Project Inc.
The Chatham-Kent project is the first to be approved under the Renewable Energy Approval process that has a 15-day appeal period.
Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing the plaintiffs and said there aren’t any provincial standards on low-frequency noise that wind-farm opponents say the turbines produce.
“Even the government doesn’t appear to be sure how it should be treated.”
“The appeal process is also entirely new, and the legal test that has to be met hasn’t been considered,” Gillespie said.
He is involved in another Ontario wind energy case that is contesting turbine setbacks.
Gillespie expects a hearing on the Kent Breeze project could occur in a couple of months.
“It’s quite likely that the hearing will take place as close to the project site as available,” he said.
According to the company’s website, a change in turbine design means fewer turbines, on shorter towers, producing the same amount of power. Ten turbines had originally been proposed.
Kyle Happy, Suncor Energy spokesperson, said the company was informed of the appeal.
“It’s worth pointing out that it’s an appeal of the MOE’s decision to approve the project,” he said.
Construction has already begun and is expected to take six months.
“Obviously that can be influenced by weather, any road condition issues and timing of specific approvals,” Happy said.
Kate Jordan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment, defended the approval process for wind farms.
The public has an opportunity to comment, she said.
“Certainly we believe we’ve put in place an approvals process that is protective of the environment and also of human health,” she said. “We’ve based it on science and we have tested the facts that are established in it.”
Jordan said a consultant’s report on low-frequency noise will be available soon.
A report on audible noise is expected early next year.
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