December 23, 2011

Pilot puts wind energy company on notice

By Morgan Ian Adams, The Enterprise-Bulletin, 22 December 2011

STAYNER – The owner of a private airstrip west of Stayner has put a wind farm company on notice, should they erect any turbines that could potentially interfere with his runway.

In a letter to WPD Canada, and obtained by the Enterprise-Bulletin, Stayner Aerodrome owner Kevin Elwood said the company would be “held personally liable for any aeronautical loss, damage or injury” that could occur should WPD go ahead with its plans to erect turbines in the area around County Road 91.

WPD is already under fire from the Collingwood Regional Airport Board, which sent a letter to WPD last week critical of the seeming lack of consultation in siting a turbine within the runway’s approach area.

Earlier this year, Elwood’s farm – home to his nursery business – hosted a rally of local residents to protest WPD’s plans; that rally turned into a march on the Stayner Community Centre where WPD was hosting an open house to outline their plans.

Elwood told the Enterprise-Bulletin he was prompted to write the letter because it appeared to him that WPD was not recognizing the status of either airport.

“They’ve failed to engage any kind of beneficial consultation,” said Elwood.

In his letter sent to WPD, as well as two landowners whose properties may host the proposed turbines, Elwood claims the wind energy company has “elected to ignore my many letters expressing my concerns.

“You have… failed to contact me and have not engaged with me, or with officials of the Collingwood Regional Airport, to attempt to accommodate our concerns,” Elwood wrote. “Your turbines have been wedged between my aerodrome and the Collingwood Regional Airport without consultation with me, or with the officials and advisors for the Collingwood Regional airport.”

Elwood, who is also a commercial pilot, has operated his 1,950-foot airstrip for 15 years.

In his letter, he outlines numerous potential risks to aircraft by the siting of the turbines, and points to the conclusion of his own aeronautical information consultant that the proposed turbines “would be dangerous obstacles to the operational aspects of (Elwood’s airstrip) due to their close proximity and significant height… the erection by WPD is disrespectful of an aeronautical facility that has been in place for many years and negligent regarding common aviation safety principles.”

Elwood told the E-B the turbines could “handcuff” his operation. He noted he pilots and manages two private aircraft at the Collingwood Airport, and is building a hangar on his own property as a base for one of the planes.

He also intends to launch an agricultural spraying business.

“With the turbines, it would put an end to any plans for the future,” he said.

Elwood concludes his letter by requesting WPD to adopt Transport Canada standards regarding recommended practices for aerodromes.

Elwood also notes flight training is conducted in the area.

“Student pilots are not as knowledgeable or skilled as professional pilots,” he wrote. “They can make mistakes and may not fly the approach and land where they are supposed to. The proposed wind turbine locations pose an unacceptable risk of collision for students and instructors.”

WPD spokesperson Kevin Surrette, responding to a request for comment by the E-B, indicated in an email that WPD will provide Elwood with a formal response in January.

Elwood said WPD’s perceived lack of communication is creating tension and upheaval in the community, as is provincial legislation that appears to allow wind energy companies the ability to go ahead with proposals in spite of community concerns.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” he said.

[rest of article available at source]

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