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MPP raises airport’s wind turbine concerns in legislature

QUEEN’S PARK – Simcoe-Grey’s Member of Provincial Parliament took the local airport board’s fight against wind turbines to the floor of the Ontario legislature, Monday, calling on the Liberal government to heed the warnings of aviation experts.

“Why is the government even entertaining a project that would compromise safety at the Collingwood Regional Airport?” Jim Wilson asked of the government during Question Period.

The municipal services board that oversees the facility has been asking that same question for nearly a year, after it discovered that one of the wind turbine sites proposed by WPD Canada as part of its Fairview Wind Farm project fell within what the board considers the ‘surface’ area of the airport’s take-off and landing approaches.

The turbines would stand about 500 feet.

In response to Wilson’s question, energy minister Chris Bentley said every proposal for a renewable energy project goes through “an extensive examination… and questions of public safety, such as those involved with airports… are very much considered.”

Bentley, however, noted that airport safety falls under federal jurisdiction, “and those rules and regulations will take precedence in virtually every circumstance.”

Bentley suggested Wilson was “getting far ahead” of the approval process for this particular project.

In his supplementary question, the local MPP suggested there were no rules to wind turbine siting near airports, “because no one ever thought someone, or any government, would be so stupid enough as to put 500-foot-tall windmills on flight paths leading to regional airports.”

Bentley’s answer, said Wilson, was an “out-of-touch response.”

WPD has been named as a defendant in a legal action launched by neighbours to the project. John Wiggins has cited that WPD’s proposal has negatively affected property values, while Kevin Elwood has claimed the project would render his personal aerodrome unusable.

The claims have not yet been proven in court.