Wind turbine opponents are blaming the Ontario government for fast-tracking the approval process that paves the way for turbine development in rural Ontario.
The provincial ministry of the environment approved a four-turbine development in the Belwood area planned by wind turbine company wpd Canada.
It is the first of six projects proposed by the company project to receive ministry approval.
The approval came after the Oppose Belwood Wind Farm Inc. (OBWF) group lost a challenge at the environmental review tribunal in mid October.
The site is bound by Sideroad 20 (in old West Garafraxa) to the northwest, County Road 16 to the northeast, 2nd Line to the southwest and Sideroad 15 to the southeast. Its proposed connection point is at the Eramosa-Garafraxa Townline and Wellington Road 29. The turbines will be 100 metres tall, have 45.2-metre blades and produce 8.2 megawatts of power, enough to provide electricity to about 1,900 homes.
Wellington County council voted at its meeting Oct. 25 not to appeal the approval decision.
OBWF president Janet Vallery made personal appeals to environment minister Jim Bradley and energy minister Chris Bentley to revoke the approval.
The group contends turbines constitute a health hazard to those living near them and it has condemned the approval process, which it says disregards local concerns and local input in the final decisions.
The anti-turbine group is now focusing its attention on an agreement reached with European-based Suzlon Group subsidiary, Repower Systems SE, to build a total of 51 turbines for the wpd Canada projects.
The turbine deal also includes a 15-year maintenance contract. Repower has announced it will establish a rotor blade manufacturing facility in southern Ontario to comply with provincial content rules.
OBWF contends the deal to build the turbines is an indication wpd Canada is confident its remaining projects will go ahead despite not yet receiving provincial approval.
“For a normal business that would be a huge risk,” Vallery said, referring to the contract to build turbines without the approvals being in place.
“There are processes for approval. It just seems these wind companies are fast-tracked and almost guaranteed approval. It’s all a mockery.”
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