Wind energy is once again in the spotlight after the Municipality learned that 43 wind turbines, part of the proposed Armow Wind Project, will impact the Kincardine municipal airport.
In an unexpected turn of events, the Municipality discovered that almost exactly one year ago NAV CANADA issued a letter to Pattern Renewable Holdings and Samsung Renewable Energy, the developers of the wind project, outlining an area that was found to be of “no impact” to the airport to assist in planning turbine locations. The companies had sent a project proposal to NAV CANADA late in 2011 for analysis.
Last week, a second letter from NAV CANADA, dated March 17, was forwarded to the Municipality from the aviation organization and the project developers. The letter, addressed to Pattern and Samsung, was issued to inform the developers that 43 of 99 proposed industrial wind turbines infringe on the Kincardine municipal airport.
The letter states: “NAV CANADA objects to the proposal as submitted due to these multiple adverse impacts; however, the impacts on the usability of instrumental procedures can be reduced – but not eliminated – by removing 10 turbines and the re-design of several instrument procedures on a cost recovery basis.”
The news came as a surprise to Kincardine councillors and municipal staff, which had been working on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pattern and Samsung at the time that the first letter was sent to them last April. In the MOU, the developers indicated that the airport’s buffer zones, as defined by the Municipality, would be respected.
“The word we got back from the developer is that they’ve engaged a consultant to look at the report from NAV CANADA,” said Kincardine CAO Murray Clarke. “This is a major impact to the process that has gone before and to the MOU.”
The news sent council into a panic, with the realization that the public consultation period for the Armow Wind Project proposal ends April 25. Comments can be submitted via Ontario’s Environmental Registry at www.ebr.gov.on.ca.
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said she was upset to see NAV CANADA’s report, considering the airport vicinity was one of the main issues addressed in MOU. She questioned why the Municipality is only learning about the no-impact zone now and why the developers hadn’t passed that information on.
In an article that appeared in The Independent in March 2012, Pattern developer Jody Law said that the companies were awaiting a response from NAV CANADA with its analysis of its proposal and that it was expected within a month and a half. He noted that Pattern and Samsung would like to hold another public meeting, possibly that spring, but wanted to have feedback from NAV CANADA and the province beforehand so they could provide up-to-date information.
In an email to The Independent Friday, Law released the following statement from Armow Wind: “Armow Wind must comply with all regulated requirements and is coordinating a meeting with the Municipality to discuss the assessment. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the municipality on the development of the project.”
In discussions at last Wednesday’s council meeting, councillor Candy Hewitt said that if the Municipality had had the information a year ago it might now be a completely different scenario. However, council learned that NAV CANADA is not obligated to forward its correspondence to the Municipality.
Clarke said it’s important now to get an understanding of what the impacts of the turbines are; if they relate to the flight approach protocol or if there are safety concerns. The Municipality’s lawyer, Peter Pickfield, has already sent a letter to Pattern and Samsung asking for details of how the developers will be addressing the issue and, once it is complete, the results of the technical review and their proposed response to be sent to NAV CANADA. The letter has also been sent to NAV CANADA, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE), Minister of the Environment and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson.
On Monday, mayor Larry Kraemer told The Independent that the Municipality is working to arrange a meeting with Pattern and Samsung representatives to get more information on how the developers plan to proceed and what the implications will be to the airport. Kraemer said there is also work being done to understand what the new development means from a Green Energy Act perspective.
The implications could be greater than the Municipality knows, according to the president and CEO of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). In a telephone interview with The Independent Thursday,
Kevin Psutka said he had warned the Municipality a year ago that its buffer zone around the airport did not provide enough protection.
“(The developers) have been trying to minimize this so they can move the project forward,” he said.
Currently, pilots can enter a low approach to the Kincardine airport’s main runway at a significant distance away and maintain a constant approach to land. With 43 turbines scattered around that approach would not be permitted, Psutka pointed out. Changes in the approach to the runway could have an effect on how the airport is used.
“In certain weather conditions you are just not going to be able to come to that airport,” he said.
Changing the flight approach to the airport could have safety and economic implications, Psutka added.
Medevac flights may not be able to use the airport in bad weather and pilots of private planes and corporate jets may choose to divert to another airport where it is easier to land their planes.
There is also some question of whether Transport Canada or Industry Canada will become involved. In its letter to Pattern and Samsung, NAV CANADA stated that “its assessment is limited to the impact of the proposed physical structure on the air navigation system and installations; it neither constitutes nor replaces any approvals or permits required by Transport Canada, Industry Canada, other federal government agencies, provincial or municipal land use authorities or any other agency from which approval is required.”
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