LAMBTON COUNTY – Three Lambton municipalities plan to present a united front as wind energy companies blow into north and central Lambton placing hundreds of turbines on rural property.
The Ontario government took away municipalities planning rights for green energy projects in the Green Energy Act. But communities are beginning to fight back as it becomes clear the scope and number of the projects on the books.
In Lambton Shores, Plympton-Wyoming and Enniskillen Township there are several major projects in the works, two of which have already been given energy contracts under the Feed In Tariff program – The Cedar Point Wind Project by Suncor and NextEra’s Jericho project. They are meeting together to find things they can do to protect residents in the face of the turbines.
“Some of the things other municipalities are doing they have no jurisdiction to do,“ says Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber. “We want stuff we can do.”
Weber points to Plympton-Wyoming’s bylaw requiring a $200,000 bond per turbine and two kilometer setback as things which he believes aren’t permitted under the Green Energy Act.
“It sends a message and it’s a good thing to send a message to the wind companies but they’re putting a little false hope in the people’s eyes, in my opinion, if we have no authority to do it. There is nothing wrong with sending that message,” adds Weber “I want to know what we can do and have real things we can do.”
Weber says it is better to have a united front “that is workable and has realistic option for the wind companies and the province to look at.
“If we have six different municipalities coming at the province with six different options, it waters it down a lot.”
Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper also likes the idea of working together to “get some continuity in the issue.
“We have the reality of wind turbines and we have to deal with it.”
And wind opponents are praising the effort. “I’m very, very excited,” says Marcelle Brooks of Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern. “It’s a fabulous step forward for Lambton Shores.”
And she says the three municipalities should consider adopting Plympton Wyoming’s $200,000 deposit. “I love that idea…most municipalities currently have nothing.”
And Brooks says the municipal governments could be protecting themselves against legal action if there are lawsuits against the wind companies for health issues. “Our municipalities have to remember that their primary duty is to protect the people in their community regardless of what the Green Energy Act says…regardless of whether it can be acted on, they’ve done due diligence whether or not it can be acted on.”
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