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Turbine placement violates airport agreement

A NAV Canada letter addressed to Samsung-Pattern Armow Wind Ontario has revealed that 43 of 99 turbines in the proposed Armow wind development violate current procedures at Kincardine Municipal Airport.

Kincardine’s chief administrative officer Murray Clarke presented the information at an April 10 meeting of council, highlighting “concerns with Samsung-Pattern turbines outside of airport perimeter mapping.”

In a letter addressed to Jody Law of SP Armow Wind dated March 17, 2013, Aleksandar Trandafilovski of NAV Canada wrote, “in our letter dated April 12, 2012, we included the area we found to be of ‘no-impact’ to aid in planning turbine locations which avoid impact to airport operations; however all 43 infringing turbines are located outside of this area.”

Clarke said it was not immediately clear what the implications of NAV Canada’s concerns might be, and suggested the turbines could possibly affect GPS readings in the area or present safety issues.

“This is a significant concern,” Clarke said. “We need to know what the implications are.”

Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said she was unhappy NAV Canada’s concerns were only now being revealed, as the violations impact the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the municipality had signed with Samsung-Pattern. The document had been enacted into bylaw February 20, 2013.

“I was upset when I read this,” Eadie said. “We set up the ad-hoc committee [to discuss issues with the Armow project]. We knew there was communication between NAV Canada and Samsung, and we had to rely on what NAV Canada would tell us. Why is this information coming to us now?”

Councillor Jacqueline Faubert was similarly disappointed that the violations are only now coming to light.

“My concern is with the letter, there is absolutely no timeline,” Faubert said. “We’re asking how we are going to resolve these conflicts. This letter seriously conflicts with the MOU. Having that information a year ago would have been an entirely different scenario.”

Eadie said the municipality had expressed concerns about the placement of the Armow turbines a year ago, but understood NAV Canada was only obligated to submit their findings to the wind company.

“They [Samsung-Pattern] were believed to be acting in good faith,” Eadie said.

Kincardine resident Karen Breitbach said she was troubled by Samsung-Pattern’s handling of the Armow project.

“I feel this is an issue that needs to be brought under public scrutiny,” said Breitbach in an April 11 email that accompanied a media release on the matter.

“It would appear that long before negotiations between representatives of Kincardine and Samsung/Pattern were concluded, the developer was aware of the fact that 43 turbines were placed within “impact zones” of the airport,” Breitbach states in the release. “Samsung-Pattern withheld critical information in their possession that in all likelihood may have seriously changed not only the outcome of these negotiations, but the MOU and the subsequent consultation comment form submitted for REA approval.”

Breitbach also added that the lack of information provided to the Municipality of Kincardine limited council’s ability to negotiate the MOU, and “contributed towards an incomplete submission of the consultation form for REA approval.”

The release also indicates members of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) object to the placement of turbines near Kincardine’s airport.

Kevin Psutka, COPA president and CEO, said wind farms can “interfere with the air navigation system by blocking surveillance radars, necessary for managing air traffic to keep aircraft safely apart from each other, and when located within a certain distance of navigation aids, they can skew the signal and render them unserviceable.”

Psutka said NAV Canada’s letter suggests a need for further study of the Armow project before plans for the turbines proceed.

Clarke reported on April 12 that he had been in contact with NAV Canada, who confirmed a letter had been sent exclusively to Samsung-Pattern last year, as is customary.

“Essentially the ball’s in Samsung-Pattern’s court to address the issues,” Clarke said.

Representatives from Samsung-Pattern were not in attendance at the April 10 meeting, but Armow Wind supplied a statement on April 12 via Law.

“Armow Wind must comply with all regulated requirements and is coordinating a meeting with the Municipality to discuss the assessment,” the release stated. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the municipality on the development of the project.”