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Meeting draws wind farm opponents  

Credit:  By Don Crosby, Sun Times Correspondent, The Sun Times, www.owensoundsuntimes.com 13 May 2011 ~~

A Grey Highlands public meeting about updating the municipality’s bylaw that deals with road entrance permit fees and securities drew a large response from people opposed to the Plateau Wind energy project planned for the Feversham and Maxwell areas.

Chief administrative officer Dan Best said by telephone that the change to the bylaw was to protect municipal roads, bridges and culverts from possible damage by heavy equipment expected to be used to build the 11 wind turbines in the project.

He recommended that the fee for entrance permits be increased to $5,000 per entrance and that International Power Canada be required to post security bonds to ensure the company pays for damage that might be done to municipal roads.

Best recommended security

fees of $50,000 for a road with no box culvert, $125,000 for a road used that has a box culvert and $200,000 if the route has a bridge.

He said the fees were determined after a risk management study was done.

“They are the numbers we felt were a reasonable amount,” Best said.

Grey Highlands resident John Hotsin wants council to review proposed entrances onto properties where wind turbines are to be built, with input from neightbours.

Rob Wilton of Proton Station wants the proponent to pay for a third-party review of the project to ensure municipal infrastructure, the environment and endangered species are protected.

He also wants IPC to put $30 million toward a fund to compensate property owners whose property values are lowered by being next to a wind turbine, or to buy out people who suffer from health effects. The fund would also make up for losses in tax revenue for properties that might be assessed as less valuable because they are near wind turbines.

He also called on council to enact an interim control bylaw to halt the proposed project for a year until an Environmental Review Tribunal gives a report on a wind energy project in Chatham-Kent before issuing permits of any kind for the Plateau Wind project.

Doug Hall warned that some of the proposed turbine sites contain sensitive habitat of the redside dace, a minnow identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources as an endangered species.

Hall noted that on March 9 Best received a letter from the MNR that said it was developing a regulation detailing the protected habitat of the redside dace.

“My question to council is, how can the municipality issue access road permits before the MNR can complete their new regulations regarding the redside dace?”

Company president Mike Crawley said he and other company officials noticed several inaccuracies that came up during the meeting, but they chose not to respond to all of them.

But in relation to road repairs Crawley said “we would be happy to hook council and staff up with other municipalities where we have built projects and are very confident that our record of professionalism and reparations of roads will stand up for itself.”

Crawley also disputed a claim by Grey Highlands resident Donna Close that IPC hasn’t yet provided the municipality with an emergency response plan, a program to decommission the turbines at the end of their lives and a traffic management plan.

He said the company has discussed an emergency plan and traffic plan with municipal police and fire officials and will continue that process.

“We recognize that there are 20-odd people here tonight that have been coming out regularly to these meetings to voice their personal oppositions to this project and we’ve spent a lot of time trying to work through any concerns and issues that many of these people have, but we also conducted a survey (last year) of the community as a whole with a very large sample which showed 70% support for wind turbines in the community,” Crawley said.

Council will consider staff recommendations to update the bylaw for entrance fees and securities at the meeting of council on May 30.

Source:  By Don Crosby, Sun Times Correspondent, The Sun Times, www.owensoundsuntimes.com 13 May 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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