BELWOOD – Construction of access roads and other infrastructure supporting four wind turbines to be built about five kilometres west of Belwood Lake may start by the end of the month, the president of the company behind the project confirmed Wednesday.
The turbines themselves, located east of Wellington Road 16, between side roads 15 and 20, will likely be installed in the spring of 2014, wpd Canada president Ian MacRae said in an interview.
The firm, a renewable energy developer that focuses on wind power, has scheduled a community meeting for Aug. 14 in the community room at the Elora Public Library.
“There’ll be people there that can answer any questions that may come our way,” MacRae said.
Janet Vallery of the wind farm opposition group Oppose Belwood Wind Farms Association said her group will take that opportunity to continue protesting the project, voicing their concerns that the turbines will impact residents’ health and diminish area property values.
“We’ve asked our group to show up at that small little meeting room,” Vallery said. “They can deal with all the people, they can see them face to face.”
Centre Wellington council passed a motion in June to tell the provincial government the township “is not a willing participant” in wind farms projects. They also asked the province to instate a moratorium on all wind farm projects until more health impact studies could be completed.
The provincial Liberals have not halted wind energy development in rural Ontario, but Premier Kathleen Wynne has moved to give municipalities more power over where turbines are located, but they are still not allowed to veto wind power developments.
Even though the arrival of a few turbines near Belwood is basically inevitable, Vallery said her group is “just going to keep on protesting.”
“Rural Ontario is enraged at what is going on.”
She estimates there are at least 100 homes within two kilometres of the four proposed turbines, and many residents have told her they are worried about the noise and potential for adverse health effects that may come with the arrival of the giant sculpted steel blades.
A project containing as many as 35 turbines to be built by TransCanada, one that local opponents say would “surround” the community of Belwood because it stretches from Wellington Road 16 west of Belwood Lake to Wellington Road 18 east of the Grand River, is still on hold, a company spokesperson said.
That project has not yet received a power purchase agreement and has been dormant since 2011.
Vallery said her members don’t take any sigh of relief that the larger project has stalled.
“Even four turbines are bad. It’s not just four, this is just the beginning,” Vallery said, adding that she has heard of other land owners along Line 2 north toward Arthur who had been approached by wind farm companies.
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