CLEARVIEW TWP. – A proposal for an eight-turbine wind turbine project south of the local airport is going to the public.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Environment posted wpd Canada’s proposal for the 18-4-megawatt Fairview Wind Farm to the Environmental Registry (EBR Registry No. 012-0614 – http://tinyurl.com/kxr2e4h) for public comment as part of the Renewable Energy Approval process.
The posting will be open for public comment for 60 days.
According to an email notification from the Ministry of the Environment to announce the posting, “all comments received will be carefully considered before any decision is made on this project.”
The province’s Renewable Energy Approval process ensures that the environment and human health are protected and extensive municipal, Aboriginal and public consultation takes place.
MOE evaluators will take into consideration comments received from the EBR when deciding if the project is able to proceed to the construction and operation stage.
The project has been met with significant resistance by neighbours, the municipality, and the Collingwood Regional Airport Board, since it was proposed in 2010.
In one instance, a group of residents attempted to use the courts to block wpd’s plans on the basis it would negatively affect property values; however, a judge ruled earlier this year the group couldn’t legally challenge the project until the project received approval from the Ministry of the Environment.
“The plaintiffs have also not shown that there is a genuine issue requiring a trial as to whether they have met the test” for an injunction based on the defendant doing an ‘anticipated damage’,” Madam Justice S.E. Healey wrote in her decision released in May.
The airport board has also challenged the company’s claims the project won’t negatively affect operations at the local airport. Two of the proposed 500-foot-tall turbines would fall within a 2.1 nautical mile radius of the airport, or the ‘outer surface’, and would therefore present a potential safety hazard to aircraft, especially in the landing or take-off phase, according to local airport officials.
WPD has countered the turbine locations would only affect a very small percentage of flights, and in a news release issued late Wednesday stated the closest turbine would be 3.1 km from the airport runway.
WPD has stated it will continue to “seek discussions” with the airport board in relation to instrument flight approaches, as suggested by NAV CANADA. wpd has previously submitted its turbine layout to NAV CANADA, who indicated it had no objections to the proposed layout, but that instrument flight approaches at Collingwood Regional Airport would have to be modified to account for the turbines, should the project be approved.
The project was also submitted to Transport Canada for review in the spring of 2011. Transport Canada is the federal regulatory body responsible for developing and enforcing safety aviation regulations and standards for Canada. Transport Canada has approved wpd’s aeronautical obstruction lighting and marking proposal for the project. The proposed project meets all Transport Canada regulations and standards that apply to the Collingwood Regional Airport.
“Aviation activities occur near tall objects throughout Canada and the world, and regulations and standards are put in place to ensure it is carried out safely,” wpd Canada president Ian MacRae stated in Wednesday’s release.
“We trust the direction and guidance given to us by the aviation safety professionals at Transport Canada and NAV Canada, as well as the expert advice from a highly respected aviation safety expert with over 30 years’ experience, to ensure the Fairview project and the Collingwood Regional Airport can safely co-exist.”
Earlier this year, Premier Kathleen Wynne – while touring the province during her bid for the provincial Liberal leadership – promised to take a closer look at the issue of wind turbines being sited near the Collingwood airport.
She also promised more autonomy for municipalities to declare themselves as ‘willing hosts’ to green energy projects.
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