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Resident may appeal wind decision

A resident living near the Kent Breeze Wind Farm is disheartened by the dismissal of her appeal, but insists she may take further action.

The Environmental Review Tribunal made its ruling on Monday, citing there was no proof of potential serious health effects from Suncor Energy’s eight-turbine operation near Thamesville.

Katie Erickson was one of the appellants, along with Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed in the decision and I think we are going to appeal,” she said on Tuesday.

The tribunal did state there are some risks and uncertainties associated with wind turbines that merit further research, a finding that gave Erickson some comfort.

“At least we got that point across,” she said.

Hearings were conducted in Chatham and Toronto, with numerous experts giving testimony for each side.

The 20-megawatt wind farm was commissioned in May.

In an e-mail, Suncor spokeswoman Jennifer Lomas said the company is pleased with the tribunal outcome.

“At Suncor, we are committed to understanding the interaction between our operations and the environment,” she said. “If further studies demonstrate clear risk, we would work to take another look at our operations.

“We will continue to meet all development and operating standards for wind projects – in Ontario and wherever we operate – including strict compliance to regulatory requirements.”

Ontario Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson said in a statement he’s confident the project can operate safely.

“Our renewable energy approval process is all about ensuring that clean energy projects are developed safely and in full consultation with the public,” he said. “We’re committed to phasing out dirty, coal-fired electricity, creating clean jobs and providing cleaner air for our children to breathe.”

Wilkinson said the province bases its standards on leading science and has among the strictest setback requirements in North America.