COLLINGWOOD – Local airport officials hope a strongly-worded letter heads off a wind energy company’s plans to erect a wind turbine near the airport.
In a letter addressed to Khlaire Parré, director of renewable energy approvals for WPD Canada, Collingwood Regional Airport board chair Charlie Tatham said that WPD’s plans to erect the turbines near the facility – including one within the airport’s secondary area of final approach – is “asinine, unjustified and dangerous.
“A grade school student would understand that. We hope someone out there is listening,” Tatham wrote.
The letter was emailed to WPD on Thursday; a copy was provided to the Enterprise-Bulletin by the airport board.
The board also provided a letter written by Parré in early November, thanking the board for its correspondence from earlier in the year, and updating the board on WPD’s plans for further public consultation prior to the submission of its application for Renewable Energy Approval.
“As part of our continuing consultation process with you, we look forward to meeting with representatives of the airport to provide more detailed information regarding our plans and to being to address any concerns or questions you might have,” wrote Parré.
In an interview, Tatham said what angered him was it appeared the board was getting something akin to a form letter from WPD.
“They (WPD) are going on (in the letter) as if this is a done deal, “said Tatham. “It doesn’t say a peep about our concerns, or even a comment from their experts on the work of our expert.
“It’s an affront to suggest they’re addressing any concerns we might have. It’s like a pat on the head.”
The airport board has been raising the alarm about turbine location for several months, since it became apparent that WPD – which has plans to erect several turbines in Clearview Township, west of Stayner – had sited one turbine within two kilometres of the airport.
The turbine poles are about 500 feet tall.
In an interview in June, W.P.D. spokesperson Kevin Surette said his company assessed proposed turbine locations – both on an older plan, and a newer plan released in June – and W.P.D. was “fairly confident that (the locations) do not pose any safety issues.”
Surette said 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.”
Tatham told the E-B in June if the wind turbines are built at their proposed locations, they would 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; those ‘precision approaches’ have been flight-checked and submitted to NAVCAN – the organization responsible for civil air navigation services in Canada – for publication.
The airport board has pointed out there are minimum rates of descent and ascent for landings and takeoffs, based on an aircraft’s approach; in Tatham’s letter of Thursday, he points out to WPD the minimum limits would have to be raised by 120 feet, “a significant amount that will obviously reduce the effectiveness of the airport.
“Arriving and departing are the critical and most exacting phases of flight,” wrote Tatham, who is a pilot, “and these aircraft face real challenges in the winter months, because of the poor flying weather associated with frequent snow streamers generated by Georgian Bay.
“For those of us well experienced in the practice, spirit, and philosophy of environmental assessments, your reference to engagement of and consultation with us and the public is an affront to our sensibilities.”
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