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Turbine firm willing to pay

CHATHAM – A 500-foot runway extension and other major upgrades totalling $2.5 million could be in store for the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport.

The Chatham Daily News learned that South Kent Wind Energy – the Samsung Pattern project planning to erect 124 wind turbines between Blenheim and Tilbury – would foot the entire bill.

“It’s a great news story and an unprecedented financial commitment from a wind energy firm,” said John Norton, the municipality’s director of legal services.

Norton credited Mayor Randy Hope and council, as well as CAO Don Shropshire and other municipal officials, for striking the deal.

He emphasized that the airport funding will only be made available if the wind project receives the green light.He said two groups, including a cluster of 24 residents in south Chatham-Kent, have filed appeals with the Ontario Energy Board.

Norton said more than 30 local pilots met with municipal officials Tuesday night to learn of the upgrade plans at the airport.

“We’ve asked the pilots to form a committee to work with our airport consultant to make certain their concerns are met,” he said.

Norton said there is some concern over the location of one turbine near the airport.

“In the event the turbine has to be moved from its proposed existing location, the funding for the airport will be reduced by $1 million,” he said.

Norton said the proposed upgrades would make the airport one of the safest Class 3 airports in the province.He said the cost alone of the 500-foot extension would exceed $1 million.

Norton said not a dime of taxpayer money would be required for the project.

Chatham Daily News