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Wind farm hits more turbulence

Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper says he welcomes a citizens’ group that’s formed to fight Suncor Energy’s plan for a 100 MW wind farm.

Plympton-Wyoming and neighbouring Lambton Shores could be home to up to 62 wind turbines proposed for the company’s Cedar Point Wind Power Project.

Several residents of Plympton-Wyoming formed We’re Against Industrial Turbines (WAIT) soon after Suncor announced it’s holding a public meeting April 18, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Camlachie Community Centre, said to Ron Schenk, WAIT’s communications director and a member of town council.

“I’ve encouraged groups to form,” Napper said. “I’ve always felt that it’s best fought by the people, rather than the councils of the day.

“There’s a lot of people power out there, and they’re not restricted by the Municipal Act on how they can meet. I think it’s great they’re forming this group.”

WAIT has a website – www.wait-pw.ca – and is collecting signatures and volunteers.

Schenk said a seven-member board of directors was elected March 31 and the group’s planning a media event next week, as well as its own town hall meeting soon after Suncor’s public meeting.

He said it’s “committed to dispelling the misinformation about industrial wind turbines and their erroneously communicated benefits.”

WAIT’s goal, he added, is to get as many citizens as it can involved “to see if we can dissuade these companies from coming to Lambton.”

Members of the group aren’t opposed to sustainable energy, Schenk said. “We’re just anti-industrial wind turbines.”

Wind farms are out of scale with life in rural communities, according to Schenk.

“You’re moving an industrial area into a rural environment,” he said. “Proper planning says you would never do that. You would never allow any other industrial business into the rural area. So, why these?”

Schenk added he fears the wind project will hurt property values, and divide the community between landowners earning money from leases to wind companies and neighbours who don’t want turbines near them.

The April 18 public meeting in Camlachie, and one the next day at the Forest legion hall, are part of the public consultation process required for provincial environmental approval of the proposed wind farm that Suncor was awarded a 20-year Feed-in Tariff power purchase contract for last July by the Ontario Power Authority.

Suncor’s wind farm would stretch from O’Brien Road, north of Highway 402, in Plympton-Wyoming to just west of Thedford in Lambton Shores, with construction beginning in June 2013, according to the company.

Along with voting for a 2-km buffer zone for turbines that township officials admit isn’t currently enforceable, Plympton-Wyoming council recent passed a bylaw requiring a $200,000 deposit for every turbine built in the community.

Earlier, it asked the province to halt the building of new wind farms and initiate an independent study of their impact on human health.

“They are tearing rural Ontario apart,” Napper said about wind farms.

He added pressure by citizens convinced Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government to abandon plans for a natural gas power plant near Toronto.

“Perhaps it should work just as well here,” Napper said, “if he’s listening at all.”