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No decision on date to remove turbines

Transport Canada officials will work with a wind turbine company to set a practical deadline for the removal of eight turbines south of the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport.

Brooke Williams, a spokesperson for Transport Canada, told The Daily News Monday no decision has been made on a date.

She did say that on at least two occasions prior to installation of the wind turbines, Transport Canada advised the wind farm representatives that height restrictions were in effect in the area around the airport.

The Daily News learned in June that Transport Canada was enforcing safety rules and requires the removal of eight wind turbines that are impeding height restrictions imposed by the airport zoning regulations.

Dave Timm, vice-president of GDF Suez Canada Inc., claims the company complied with all the rules and regulations regarding the placement of turbines near the airport.

Timm said his company is asking for a meeting with Transport Canada officials to discuss the matter.

The Daily News has learned that Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope has sent a letter to Transport Canada critical of their handling of the announcement that eight turbines had to be removed.

He said the media learned of Transport Canada’s decision before the company was made aware of the concerns.

Williams told The Daily News Monday Transport Canada does not approve wind turbines or wind farms.

“Transport Canada’s role with respect to obstacles such as wind turbines is to assess them for lighting and marking requirements in support of aviation safety in accordance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations,” she said.

She said an assessment of a wind turbine or wind farm from Transport Canada does not constitute an authorization to construct because land use falls under provincial/municipal jurisdiction.

Timm could not be reached Monday for comment.

Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls also complained to Transport Canada about the close proximity of turbines to the airport.

“Not only do they make it unsafe for pilots but I’m told the spinning blades affect radar,” he said.

Nicholls is also concerned that the turbines would limit use of the airport by larger companies that might consider locating in Chatham-Kent and making use of company planes.

Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy said wind turbines and airports don’t mix.

“Why would you risk the life of a pilot for a little bit of turbine-generated electricity?” he asked.

Bondy said his concern is that the municipality may end up having to pay the huge demolition cost because the turbine company was issued municipally-approved building permits.