A supporter of the proposed Arran Wind Energy Project wants Arran-Elderslie’s deputy-mayor removed from council discussions about wind energy.
Bruce Ransome, a Kincardinearea farmer and Arran-Elderslie landowner, said Mark Davis’s “anti-wind bias” prevents him from being an effective decision maker for all ratepayers.
Davis has led council’s fight to keep turbines out of the municipality.
Ransome told about 60 people – the majority sporting “Stop the wind turbines” buttons – who crammed into Arran-Elderslie’s council chambers Monday morning that if the municipality’s long-standing position to keep turbines out of Arran-Elderslie is successful, “then landowners and others in the municipality who support wind energy should be compensated 50% of the amount of the money they will lose” because of that decision.
Later in the meeting, Davis and the rest of council were praised for their anti-wind farm position.
Keith Stelling, an Arran Lake resident and long-time opponent of wind energy, told council he’s “really proud of our councillors,” saying “Arran-Elderslie was the first one to speak up against the Green Energy Act and the provincial government. We see honesty and truth coming out in your wind energy discussions, which isn’t always the case with power point presentations.”
Stelling’s comments and a two-page letter he read to council about health concerns involving turbines, and suggestions that turbines have setbacks from 1 to 4.3 kilometres from residences, drew loud applause.
Earlier in the meeting, Charles (Chuck) Edey, president of Leader Resources Services Corp., and members of his team – communications manager Heather Boa and general manager Eric Monrad – updated members of council on the Arran Wind Energy Project in a power point presentation.
Edey, who admitted being nervous in making the presentation, told council a “significant number of landowners in Arran- Elderslie” support the proposed 115 megawatt project. More than 35,000 acres of land is already under option for the Arran project near Burgoyne and the Skyway 127 project near Port Elgin. A maximum of 212 acres, for 36 sites, “is all that’s on the list for Arran-Elderslie.”
About a dozen Arran Wind Energy Project supporters were at Monday’s meeting. Edey stressed their attendance at the meeting “was their choice. They were not asked to come.”
“Open dialogue is the best way to move the project forward,” Edey said, adding “in some cases, there’s limited under-standing of what’s going on.”
Edey said further fieldwork required as part of the renewable energy approval process will be done this spring, followed by public meetings to present the information in the fall.
“It will be the first quarter of 2012 before there’s a shovel in the ground.”
According to Edey, the 46 turbines which will make up the Arran Wind Energy Project, will bring in $96,200 in building permit revenue for Arran-Elderslie, along with $149,200 in annual taxes, an estimated $920,000 to landowners (leases) and $740,000 to Arran-Elderslie for the first 20 years in assessment.
“The first year alone (the project) will provide revenue of $1 million,” Edey said, adding it would take 70 new homes in the municipality “to provide a similar tax base.”
Boa said “more and more landowners are asking for more information . . . the silent majority is starting to speak.”
Signs supporting wind power “will soon start appearing in the area”, Edey said.
Each landowner who signs a lease for one or more turbines will net an average of $20,000 per turbine per year for 20 years, Ransome said.
“The loss of revenue, including taxes, you should compensate us for,” Ransome told council, adding Davis “should step aside” during council’s wind energy discussions, claiming Davis “has too close of an association with anti-wind groups which compromises your ability to be impartial. Your dislike for turbines is well known,” Ransome said to Davis, adding his comments were “business, not personal.”
But Ransome’s comments drew an angry response many others in the crowd.
“He was elected . . . that’s democracy,” one wind opponent yelled before Mayor Paul Eagleson was forced to call the meeting to order.
“If I were to agree with you, all that would prove is that two of us are wrong, ” Davis told Ran-some.
Council presented Edey with a list of 15 questions it wants Leader Resources Services Corp. to answer, in writing, within 30 days.
Concerns raised in the questions range from the effect of turbines on surrounding properties, the health, safety and wellbeing of residents and future decommissioning and removal of the turbines to a request for the names of Arran-Elderslie residents who support the Arran Wind Project, questions about remuneration paid and restrictions placed on landowners.
Edey told council they would receive a written response to their questions.
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