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Leamington council vows fight on wind farms

The new Leamington council unanimously agreed Monday it is opposed to wind turbines in Lake Erie.

“I don’t care if I lay across a road in front of truck bringing them,” Leamington’s new Deputy Mayor Charlie Wright said before moving a resolution on council’s opposition to any wind turbines in the western basin of Lake Erie.

Local municipalities, residents, and the developer who has proposed 15 turbines south of Leamington and Kingsville and then 700 turbines around Essex County in Lakes Erie and St. Clair are waiting for the provincial government to announce regulations for offshore wind farms.

The provincial government asked for comments last summer and fall on guidelines including the Ministry of Environment’s proposed five-kilometre exclusion zone for turbines off the shores of lakes.

The proposed guidelines wouldn’t kill SouthPoint Wind’s plans for more than 700 turbines, said Jim Liovas, president of SouthPoint Wind and the Liovas Group in Leamington.

“The farther out we go, the better the wind is,” said Liovas who didn’t speak to council Monday but attended the meeting for another matter.

SouthPoint Wind had proposed putting turbines more than one kilometre offshore, he said.

“The place to put them is on the lake,” Liovas said in an interview.

He said the lake belongs to all the residents, not just those who live on the lake and said the opposition is a Nimby, not-in-my-backyard, issue. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. We’re waiting for the guidelines.”

He said the 15-turbine, 30-megawatt pilot project would cost around $100 million.

He wouldn’t name the financial backers for the proposed wind farms but said the financing is not an issue.

Liovas said SouthPoint Wind is “full steam ahead” on research and development while it waits for direction from the provincial government and the 15 turbines if allowed would provide more accurate research on turbines in freshwater.

He said he doesn’t want to respond to the opposition until he sees what the provincial government wants to do.