Transport Canada is being asked to clarify why it hasn’t taken action against a wind turbine company advised in June to remove eight turbines near the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport.
Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls said Friday the turbine company – GDF Suez Canada – is dragging its heels “and the longer it stalls the more money it makes from the turbines.”
“It irritates me, especially since this is a safety issue,” said the MPP. “I’m constantly being asked by people why the turbines haven’t been removed and I’ve written to Transport Canada to get answers.”
Chatham-Kent Essex MP Dave Van Kesteren said Friday he is also concerned over the lack of answers and intends to follow up with the agency in Ottawa.
Meantime, David Timm, vice-president of the turbine company, insisted Friday his company has never received an “order” from Transport Canada to remove the eight turbines.
“It’s not a safety issue, but rather a zoning issue,” said Timm. “We are working with Transport Canada, just as we have for the past five years.”
Timm said his company is convinced it has satisfied all concerns of Transport Canada and is continuing to hold talks with the agency.
But he again stressed that the company has never received an order from Transport Canada to remove the eight turbines.
A spokesperson for Transport Canada told The Daily News in June that the eight wind turbines south of the airport violate height limits at the airport, which are subject to airport zoning regulations.
“Transport Canada is enforcing safety rules and requires the removal of the turbines,” Tina Morris told The Daily News.
She said the turbine company was advised of height restrictions on two occasions prior to turbine construction.
“While Transport Canada is willing to work with the wind turbine company to set a practical deadline, the illegal turbines must be removed,” she said.
Morris said federal airport zoning regulations (AZR) at the airport protect a radius of approximately four kilometres around the airport.
“The AZR protect the operations of an airport and help ensure that development surround the airport remains compatible with safe operations of aircraft and the airport itself,” she said. “These regulations include obstacle height restrictions.”
When reminded of Morris’ e-mail, Timms said “show me where it says we have been ordered to remove the turbines.”
Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope agreed with Timms during an interview Friday. He said he wrote to Transport Canada complaining of the way officials “bungled” the announcement by making it public before notifying the company.
“The turbines remain operational and the airport remains operational,” said Timm. “We’ve complied with all of Transport Canada’s requests.”
Nicholls has said he is also concerned the turbines could limit use of the airport by larger companies that might consider locating in Chatham-Kent and making use of company planes.
In a previous article he said not only do the turbines make it unsafe for pilots, but that he has been told the spinning blades affect radar.
“There are rules and regulations in place and the wind turbine company should be adhering to those rules and regulations,” he said. “Do they think they are above the law? They are not and they should comply.”
Nicholls said the last thing he wants to see is a plane accident at the airport caused by wind turbines.