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Conestogo wind farm proposed for northern Perth County may interfere with air ambulance corridor

A peer review of the proposed Conestogo Wind Power project in Perth County has determined the developer has not addressed a number of potential impacts identified by the surrounding community.

Following a presentation of those shortcomings to Perth County council, the consultants assessing the possible impacts of the 26-turbine development heard of two more concerns: possible interference with an air ambulance corridor and the potential impact on future residential buildings on farmland that may now be vacant.

County planning director Dave Hanly cited the impact the wind farm could have on future development of vacant farm properties where livestock facilities and homes might be compromised by required distance setbacks from turbines.

Senes Consultants Ltd., retained by the townships of Perth East and North Perth and the county for the peer review, presented a summary of its findings at Thursday’s county council meeting.

The list of impacts not addressed by the applicant includes those from stray voltage and shadow flicker. The effect the turbines may have on tile drains, groundwater wells and source water, snowmobile trails and property values are also cited in the report.

The report is critical of a noise study that is based on a conceptual model rather than on the specific turbine model that would be used in the development.

Once the turbine model is selected the noise study should be updated and made available for public and municipal review, it says.

As well, the consultants recommend a detailed impact assessment of a potential on-site concrete batch plant.

Perth East has been working in conjunction with North Perth and the county with regard to the proposed wind turbine development slated for east of Atwood in an area bordered by Hwy. 86 to the north, Hwy. 23 to the west, Line 72 to the south and Road 131 to the east.

The turbines are proposed for privately owned lands that are currently under agricultural production, fallow lands or lands used for pasture. Connecting underground infrastructure would traverse lands in Wellesley Township.

The wind turbines project is proposed by Invenergy Wind Canada Development.

Under the provincial Renewable Energy Approvals process, municipalities cannot prohibit a renewable energy project but the applicant must consult with municipalities and hold public consultation meetings.

The developer is also required to respond to municipal concerns expressed in a consultation form that includes issues raised in the peer review.

The project has been controversial ever since it was first announce.

Warden Vince Judge added a comment Thursday about the use of prime agricultural land.

“They don’t need to put it on the best land in Canada,” he said. “That’s the part that has upset me.”