March 18, 2011

MOE to contact county about wind turbine decision

By David Meyer, The Wellington Advertiser,

Wellington County officials can expect a call from the Ministry of Environment over its decision to refuse to take part in the wind turbine municipal consultation process.

County council made that decision after receiving legal advice from its solicitor in a closed meeting on Feb. 24.

But that decision does not sit easily with ministry officials. Minister of Environment and Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson’s press secretary Graham Rivers contacted the Wellington Advertiser after he read that report.

“We take the concerns of the municipality seriously,” he said.

Rivers said the provincial government took approval powers from municipalities to the province because there was a confusion of rules and it wanted everyone to operate under the same regulations for wind power (that came many months after the province had instructed municipalities to write their own rules, as Wellington County did).

“The problem is the science on the approvals has been looked at by the province,” he said, explaining why it felt more qualified than local governments to take on that role.

He added that when the MOE receives a complaint about a wind turbine operation, “We follow up so, essentially, they are good neighbours to the people they share the community with.”

He said if the county chooses not to participate, the ministry will be contacting it to find out why.

He said it is “most important” if municipalities are unhappy with the process “to find out why. If they don’t participate, we will be contacting them.”

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