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Wind farm opponents ‘not going away’

Opponents of a 92-turbine wind farm Nextera Energy is proposing for north Lambton say they want the company to know they’re not going away.

Today, members of the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group called on supporters to join a protest, set to begin at 5 p.m., at a public meeting Nextera is holding at Watford’s Centennial Hall.

It’s the first of three the company is holding this week.

“We continue to protest, mostly just to show Nextera they aren’t welcome here,” said Esther Wrightman, with the wind action group.

She said there’s “extreme opposition” in the community to the company’s plans and the group sent out a notice calling on supporters to bring signs, noise makers and their neighbours out to the Watford meeting.

“If we don’t protest, it’s as if we say, ‘We give up, come on in,’” Wrightman said.

“And that’s not how anybody feels.”

Nextera’s meeting is the part of a final round of open houses the company is holding before submitting its project for provincial environmental approval.

The Jericho Wind Energy Centre already has a contract to sell power from the proposed turbines into Ontario’s electricity grid.

Wrightman said the Jericho centre is part of “a big mass of Nextera projects” in the area.

She lives in Middlesex County, just a short drive east of Watford, where Nextera is planning its 37-turbine Adelaid wind farm. The company’s proposed 45-turbine Bornish wind farm sits to the north of her home, Wrightman said.

“They’re everywhere in our communities.”

Nextera officials have said they would like to have environmental approval in time to begin building the Jericho wind farm by the end of the year.

The company is also holding an open house Thursday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Alisa Craig Community Centre, and one Friday, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Legacy Recreation Centre in Thedford.

The Thedford meeting is a new location for the company’s meeting. It had originally been scheduled for Forest’s Kimball Hall but members of the wind action group rented the hall out from under the company.

Marcelle Brooks, a wind action group member who lives in Lambton Shores, said it’s members will be out at all three of the company’s open houses.

“More and more, people are becoming vocal about this,” she said.

“For us, education is power.”

The action group is also holding its own community meeting Friday, 7 p.m., at Kimball Hall.

Brooks said the topics that evening include a boundary setback reductions process allowed under the province’s green energy rules.

It can be used by wind companies to place turbines closer to property lines than set out in the provincial rules, she said.

Brooks added Nextera has reduced the boundary distances for several of the turbine sites proposed in the Jericho project, a move the wind action group argues could impact the safety and use of neighbouring properties.