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Plympton-Wyoming eyes changes to turbine bylaw; meets with Suncor

The lawyer representing Plympton-Wyoming in its court battle against Suncor’s wind project says the municipality may clarify its bylaw after a recent court decision.

This, while the municipality and Suncor meet to try to resolve some of their differences about the Cedar Point Wind Energy Center.

Suncor has a plan to build a 100 megawatt project with up to 46 turbines in Plympton-Wyoming and Lambton Shores. Suncor is following the rules set out by the Green Energy Act, including keeping the giant turbines 550 meters from the nearest homes.

But Plympton-Wyoming Council was concerned about that distance saying there are reports of people becoming ill from the sounds and shadow flicker so close to the turbines. It passed its own bylaw under the Municipal Act to have the turbines two kilometers away from homes.

Mayor Lonny Napper says the bylaw was passed to protect residents’ health – which is a duty of politicians under the act.

When the province passed the Green Energy Act, it over-ruled every other type of legislation including local municipalities planning authority, but Napper and other municipal politicians believe the Municipal Act doesn’t fall under the Green Energy Act.

Suncor disagrees and is taking Plympton-Wyoming to court to challenge the two kilometer limit and two other bylaws which impose high fees for development and a $200,000 deposit per turbine to deal with the cost of removing the towers in the future.

The municipality of Wainfleet enacted a similar bylaw on turbine setbacks which was recently ruled invalid.

The Wainfleet bylaw called for the turbines to be two kilometers away from “a property”, but the justice felt the word property wasn’t clearly explained.

Plympton-Wyoming used similar wording in its bylaw.

“Justice Reid did make a finding about the need for more clarity in the definition section of the Wainfleet bylaw and that information will be helpful,” says lawyer Eric Gillespie who represents Plympton-Wyoming against Suncor. “If there is an amendment to the (Plympton-Wyoming) bylaw it will be to reflect new information that wasn’t available at the time… the court decision from Wainfleet.”

Gillespie says council will have to make a decision on the changes.

Meantime Gillespie and municipal officials have had meetings with Suncor Energy. Suncor has maintained it wanted to resolve the dispute without going to court. Gillespie wouldn’t say what the discussions were about but said “There has been progress.”

Mayor Napper believes the issue will end up in court. “We have three bylaws that they (Suncor) are challenging and in light of the two kilometer setback in Quebec and other places…I feel quite confident that we can defend what we have with scientific evidence.”

A date for a court hearing has yet to be set.