Enniskillen Township politicians say they’re considering a bylaw to keep wind turbines two kilometers from homes.
But Mayor Kevin Marriott says council is waiting to see what happens with two prominent cases in the Ontario courts before acting.
There are three wind energy companies going door-to-door in the municipality trying to sign farmers to wind leases. The projects could mean up to 51 turbines in the community.
A new group, CORE – Conservation of Rural Enniskillen – has been formed to encourage residents not to sign on, making it difficult for the wind companies to get the land base they need. So far, the companies have not secured contracts with the provincial government to sell power.
That’s why Marriott and his council told members of CORE at a recent council meeting they’re taking their time on imposing a two kilometer limit – which would be directly opposed to provincial law.
Marriott says communities such as Wainfleet and Plympton-Wyoming which imposed the limit are facing legal challenges and are currently in court. A decision on the Wainfleet two kilometer set back is expected in weeks.
“When we hear that decision we thought we’d be in a better position to proceed with setback (requirements) like Plympton-Wyoming’s,” says Marriott adding a larger exclusion zone would be one of the best ways to stop wind projects in the community. “Two kilometers would pretty well eliminate any place in rural Lambton,” says Marriott.
Other councilors say it would be foolish to move ahead without seeing the decision. “If they can’t get the two kilometer set back, we won’t either,” says Councilor Mary Lynn McCallum.
But some residents are urging council not to wait. Tom Saul, one of the members of CORE, wants council to work with the group to educate landowners about wind leases. “You have a certain amount of credibility and respectfully, I think council has been hiding….Please, please be more visible and active and help us with the education process,” says Saul.
But councilors say it is not that simple. “We’re getting pressure from both sides,” says Councilor John Phair. “If we get involved with organizational meetings, I wonder, could we be looking at legal action?”
“We know there are ratepayers who are not opposed to wind turbines,” says Greydanus. “We are quietly trying to assess what is going on…it is only in the last while we’re hearing a common voice.”
The mayor suggested CORE organize another public meeting to continue the education process, knowing that council is acting. “As long as we’re on your side I don’t know how we can be perceived as anything but support,” says Marriott.
Saul was disappointed council wouldn’t become an active organizer. “If you truly believe these things are not a good thing, help educate people and they are still free to choose,” he says.