A new debate is rising over wind turbines in Clearview Township after ones built near an airport in Chatham have been ordered removed.
Kevin Elwood is a commercial pilot who flies out of Collingwood Regional Airport. More than 12,000 flights come and go from the airport each year and safety is a primary concern. Pilots there are concerned about a proposal to put up wind turbines 3,000 metres from the centre of the airport. They don’t think the wind turbines are safe.
“They are asking us to adapt to the location of the turbines and alter standard safety procedures and with a culture of safety we know that anything that deviates from standard procedures increases risk,” Elwood says.
The local wind has been in the planning stages for several years now and the company’s application is currently at the Ministry of the Environment waiting to be reviewed. But pilots here and the airport’s board are calling for that application to be rejected after Transport Canada recently ordered the removal of eight turbines from the area around the Chatham Kent Airport.
The eight turbines near that airport were built too close, says Transport Canada, and they have to come down.
Elwood says the Collingwood airport deserves the same safety consideration.
“If they made a decision in Chatham and it’s not safe there, then it’s not safe at other aerodromes like Collingwood,” he says.
A spokesperson for the company hoping to build the Collingwood turbine project says Transport Canada has been consulted and didn’t have any safety concerns.
The company has hired its own aviation safety expert to review the project, but says there will need to be adjustments for pilots doing instrument landings.
But pilot Don Chapman doesn’t like anything out of the ordinary in the airspace around airports. He says pilots have enough to worry about without looking out for turbines in the clouds.
It’s unclear when the Ministry of the Environment will consider the application and move onto the formal review of the wind project.
The green energy act does not currently have a formal process for evaluating aviation safety.
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