Airplanes and windmills don’t mix.
That’s the message the Collingwood Regional Airport board hopes to take to a public meeting in two weeks that will hear comments on the W.P.D. Wind Turbines’ Fairview Wind Farm Project.
W.P.D. is proposing to put up turbines throughout the north-central part of Clearview Township. Airport board chair Charlie Tatham says the board had been under the impression the turbines were sited south of Hwy. 91, and was surprised to find at least one turbine proposed for a location within two kilometres of the main runway.
The turbine poles are about 500 feet tall.
Tatham says if the wind turbines are built at their proposed locations, they’ll potentially interfere with landings and take-offs. The airport recently upgraded its instrument approach equipment to assist pilots to land in poor conditions or zero visibility situations.
“Having flown for more than 45 years, I know (the location of the windmills) is potentially damaging to the airport,” he said.
If the windmills go ahead, Nav Canada – the organization responsible for civil air navigation services in Canada – would need to amend the approach and take-off procedures for pilots using the airport.
“That’s doable,” said Tatham, “but why would we need to do that when there’s the world to choose from (for siting wind turbines).
“If (W.P.D.) has their way, we would have to completely modify our instrument approaches, and we would end up with an airport that’s less accessible.
“When you think of the investment (in the airport facility), and they can just come along and plop these in,” he said. “Technically, it’s acceptable, but practically, it’s offensive.”
A public meeting on the wind farm project is being held July 13 at the Stayner Community Centre.
W.P.D. spokesperson Kevin Surette says his company assessed proposed turbine locations – both on an older plan, and a newer plan released two weeks ago – and W.P.D. is “fairly confident that (the locations) do not pose any safety issues.”
Surette says an independent report was also prepared by an aviation expert.
The airport, he said, “was taken into consideration with both the old and new layout.”
Collingwood’s deputy-mayor Rick Lloyd – one of two council representatives on the airport board – says locating a wind turbine within the approach and take-off corridor of the airport will have serious economic repercussions for the facility, especially as the municipality attempts to position it as an alternative to the Buttonville Airport, which is closing within the next five years.
“There’s going to be a tremendous economic impact to the airport,” said Lloyd. “I’m not against windmills, but I am against anything that creates a public safety issue.
“We wouldn’t allow a communications tower in the (landing and take-off) corridor, so why in blazes would we allow this?” he questioned. “It’s not appropriate.”
The project has already run into resistance from a group of area residents calling themselves Clearview W.A.I.T. (Warning Against Industrial Turbines), which has cited several issues with the turbines, including declining property values, health concerns, loss of tourism, and detrimental effects on agriculture in the township.
The airport board has hired a consultant to make their case at the July 13 meeting.
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