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Provincial approval given for Whittington wind farm

A trio of new, larger wind turbines will soon dot the landscape of Amaranth Township.

The province approved the Whittington Wind Project on Friday (Feb. 15).

Proposed by Mississauga-based wpd Canada Corporation, the project will see three 145-metre tall wind turbines (ground to blade tip) installed on lands bordered by 20th Sideroad to the north, 15th Sideroad to the south, 2nd Line of Amaranth to the west and Mono-Amaranth Townline to the east.

“We believe the application we had was a solid application. It met all of the (province’s) requirements,” said Kevin Surette, manager of communications for wpd Canada Corporation, noting construction could begin as early as this fall.

“We did all the necessary studies,” he added. “The ministry found that our work was satisfactory and decided to let us move forward.”

Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver certainly didn’t welcome news of the Whittington Wind Project’s approval.

Both his municipality and Dufferin County have requested the province place a moratorium on all wind projects until results of Health Canada’s study into the potential health effects of wind turbines are known.

“The province doesn’t seem to want to listen,” MacIver said. “Where is the priority in this government? Pieces of metal or people?”

Surette said each turbine has the potential to generate 2.05 MW for the 6.15 MW wind farm. With a hub height of 100 metres, each turbine will stand about 20 metres taller than turbines currently found in Dufferin, which generally measure in at about 80 metres.

With residents in his municipality living near turbines already reportedly experiencing adverse health effects, MacIver is wary of even larger ones.

“We’re having problems at 1.5 MW,” he said.

“Now, we’re watching the bigger ones come in.”

From the Ministry of the Environment’s (MOE) perspective, the placement of wind turbines are safe, as long as they’re situated at least 550 metres away from homes, schools and churches, and don’t emit sounds higher than 40 dB.

As Surette explained, wpd Canada will adhere to those provincial regulations.

“This project will meet the requirements set forward by the government,” he said. “They went through their process to determine what those would be and we’ll abide by those.”

MacIver, however, isn’t willing to stand idly by and accept that. Plainly put, he doesn’t believe the MOE’s current regulations are adequate.

“The companies are saying we’re doing everything within the regulations. I don’t argue with that,” MacIver said.

“What we’re arguing with the province is your regulations aren’t tough enough.”

Last summer, Health Canada announced its study would focus on a sample of 2,000 households selected from eight to 12 wind turbine facilities across the country.

Following public consultation, Health Canada announced an assessment of infrasound would also be conducted as part of the study earlier this month.

“The expert committee has carefully reviewed and evaluated the feedback received during the public consultation and has taken it into consideration when developing the revised research design,” Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister of Health, said in a news release.

In MacIver’s opinion, there is no question wind turbines can impact the health of people living nearby. Unfortunately, he believes those concerns are falling on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Amaranth council will continue to advocate to the MOE for a moratorium until health studies are complete.

Beyond that, the municipality has few options.

“Our hands are very limited,” MacIver admitted. “There will be a point where people power will win the day.”