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Airport fires back at WPD over turbines  

Credit:  John Edwards, Staff | www.simcoe.com 6 September 2012 ~~

COLLINGWOOD – The Collingwood Regional Airport wants the proposed wind turbines near Stayner to be moved further away from the facility.

Charlie Tatham, chair of the Collingwood Regional Airport Board, is asking officials at the Ministry of the Environment to help make this happen.

Tatham penned a letter to Doris Dumais, Director of the Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch of the MOE.

In it, Tatham expresses his concerns about how the proximity of the proposed turbines to the airport will create safety issues for those who use the facility. He said in some cases, turbines would need to be moved several hundred metres.

“It is our respectful position, Ms Dumais, that the MOE should choose the safest way out of this dilemma and require that the turbines be moved farther away from the airport,” Tatham wrote. “After all, public safety is at stake.”

Tatham says because Transport Canada – the governing body for airports – does not take a position it appear that that they are in favour of these projects.

“It is a very serious matter and so far, I get the feeling that somehow some aspects of the safety issues are being trivialized or perhaps not fully appreciated,” he wrote. “This possibly arises from Transport Canada’s understandable reluctance to become involved in land use issues around registered airports, believing that this is purely in the hands of the province.”

Tatham, and members of the board, believe the turbines will create issues for pilots who are taking off and landing – especially in bad weather.

He said this could damage the airport’s viability.

WPD – the company that is proposing the turbines – held a press conference last month, where their consultants SMS Aviation, outlined a report that stated disruption would be limited and aircraft could still move safely.

“SMS agreed to review the situation and concluded that the Collingwood Airport can continue to operated safely with the proposed Fairview Wind Farm,” said Ian MacRae, president of WPD Canada.

The airport board has released a rebuttal to the SMS report- written by Charles Cormier. Cormier said the WPD report is narrow in scope.

“The report by SMS is narrow in scope, and is very inconclusive due to the questionable data and biased assumptions that were used,” Cormier said. “While the wpd Fairview Project team have frequently stated that their aviation consultants have proven that there are no safety hazards, this is the only documentary product that has been provided, and it does not address numerous important aeronautical aspects.”

The WPD report used Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA) as comparison to Collingwood Regional Airport.

MacRrae said the Toronto airport sees more than 100,000 movements annually, hosts a large flight school and is located on a lake with lake effect weather.

“The CN Tower is approximately 1.3 kilometres from the Toronto City Airport runway, while the closet turbine to the Collingwood runway is more than twice that distance at 3.1 kilometres,” he said.

Cormier said this isn’t a fair comparison.

“The existence of significantly high structures such as the CN Tower in close proximity to BBTCA was used as justification to allow turbines close to Collingwood. This comparison is irrational and not relevant to the issues,” Cormier wrote. “BBTCA has a special certification status that took years to evolve. It has a control tower that has special procedures in place to warn about tall ships passing the runway ends.”

Terry Kelly, director of SMS aviation, said only three flights per year would be impacted at the Collingwood airport.

When developing the report, Kelly said they looked at Environment Canada weather data for Collingwood for the past five years in order to determine how often weather might prevent a pilot from seeing the runway or and landing.

“There are any number of obstacles that are both man made and natural around many airports in Canada,” he said. “The pilots have a responsibility to ensure they fly in adequate weather.”

Cormier dismissed the findings, saying the data is not accurate.

“Concerning historical weather, there is none recorded by Environment Canada for the Collingwood Regional Airport,” he said. “The author chose to utilize the nearest weather data, for the military helicopter aerodrome at CFB Borden, which is 15 Nautical Miles distant. The author does emphasize that Collingwood is ‘subject to strong lake effect snowfalls, low ceilings and poor visibility’. The effects of wind flow passing from the lake to over nearby terrain that features a major ski resort also can cause weather to change rapidly. How can relevant conclusions regarding weather conditions be drawn from this remote information?”

Transport Canada has an outer surface surrounding airports of 15 nautical miles – and states obstacles can not be higher than 45 metres or about 150 feet.

Frank DeCarlo – who peer reviewed the WPD report – said because Collingwood Regional Airport is not a certified airport, the outer surface rules do not apply.

“Certified aerodrome is subject to a much higher standard,” he said. “Collingwood is not a certified aerodrome. So the concept of (the outer surface) doesn’t apply.”

Cormier, in his report, disagrees.

“The report does not address the Obstacle Limitation Surfaces for Collingwood,” he said. “The author did discuss the ‘outer surface,’ verbally during the press conference when questioned by reporters. He stated that this aspect only applies to certified airports. Transport Canada strongly encourages all aerodromes in Canada to respect the standards of TP312 wherever possible. Logically, any airport that tries to keep the outer surface clear of obstacles higher than 45m is maximizing safety and where obstacles are permitted to penetrate the outer surface, safety diminishes. Otherwise, why would there be an outer surface?”

Source:  John Edwards, Staff | www.simcoe.com 6 September 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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