Wellington County council is prepared to assist the Oppose Belwood Wind Farm Association (OBWF), but it won’t dig into its wallet to help the group in its fight to stop planned wind turbine developments.
Council heard from association executives at its June 28 meeting. Dave Hurlburt and Janet Vallery updated council on the association’s efforts to halt projects that could see 49 turbines erected between Belwood and Fergus.
The group contends the provincial government, through its Green Energy Act, is paving the way for turbine projects without input from local residents about potential health hazards.
“It’s unprecedented industrialization … with loss of democracy,” Vallery told council. “These turbines are imposed on us.”
Among concerns raised by the association is the development of the four turbine Springwood project by wpd, which borders on a residential area.
“The wpd project is situated in a significantly dense residential rural area and there are over 100 homes within the two kilometer radius of the project,” states information given out by the association.
“The county and municipalities have the ethical duty and legal obligation to protect the health, safety, quality of life and well being of citizens and their property.
“Wellington County and other municipalities impacted by the Green Energy Act and unmitigated wind industrialization must be aggressive in assessing the risks during construction, operation and decommissioning of projects,” the association said.
The association is calling on the county to update all references in its official plan pertaining to wind turbines. They want a minimum required setback of 2,000 meters between turbines and residences. The association is also calling on the county to impose a $135,000 building permit fee similar to one in place in Grey Highlands.
“Our most urgent request is for Wellington County support of OBWF future legal actions against the wpd project in our community,” the association stated.
“We feel the only option left to us is to review legal actions within the Green Energy Act regulations, within the Judicial Review county system and through potential suits against the offending parties. We ask you to collaborate with OBWF to examine potential legal strategies. We request that OBWF legal counsel meet with county counsel to explore legal options.”
The association is in the process of putting together a financial war chest to cover its legal costs and hopes to raise $200,000. A request for the county to consider financial support for the association’s fundraising efforts was rejected by council.
“The journey has been long and we share your concerns and we can investigate collectively,” councillor Joanne Ross-Zui said of county support for association efforts.
Councillor John Green moved that the association’s concerns be forwarded to county lawyer Peter Pickfield.
Council agreed to seek legal advice on association recommendations involving county policies. Green suggested the county not commit any money until its has a report from its lawyer.
Warden Chris White advised council against committing county funds.
“We would help support, but I would be hesitant to fund a citizen group,” he said of the potential to set a precedent.
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