Wind turbines to the west of Skydive Burnaby will put skydivers in danger of a serious accident, an expert witness said Tuesday at an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in Wainfleet.
Boz Eralp was brought in by lawyer Eric Gillespie to testify on behalf of the skydive club, based on Burnaby Rd.
The hearing was convened after Skydive Burnaby owners Mike and Tara Pitt filed an appeal against Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc.’s project on Station Rd., which will see two wind turbines installed on land owned by the Loeffen family.
The Loeffens have partnered with Rankin Construction on the project, which will also see three more wind turbines installed to the northwest of Station Rd., off of Concession 1 in Wainfleet.
A stay was ordered on the two turbines on Station Rd. in late 2013, and construction halted until the hearing is completed.
Eralp, the hearing heard, holds pilot’s licences for Airbus passenger jets, Boeing 767s and 757s, Lear jets and has 9,000 all-weather flying experience. He also has more than 3,000 jumps under his belt as a skydiver and is a tandem skydive instructor and skydive coach.
“I’ve never seen a fatal accident here, the owners are very careful to keep the margins of safety high. They don’t take shortcuts … it’s a very impressive facility,” Eralp said of Skydive Burnaby.
He said it’s well-known across Canada and the U.S. as a place to practice safe skydiving.
Having jumped from the facility, Eralp said there are lots of places to land nearby if need be.
If wind turbines No.s 4 and 5 are built, turbulence caused by the blades will be of great concern, said Eralp.
“The wake behind the turbine blades can’t be seen for the most part, except in certain meteorological conditions. The wake will be large in relation to the parachute.”
Eralp said if the turbulence (wake) hits a parachute there is a chance the parachute will collapse and cause a serious accident.
“It will likely not be recoverable,” he said, adding that means the skydiver would fall to the ground and, depending on the height, be very seriously hurt or die.
Lawyers for the provincial Ministry of Environment and Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. both questioned Eralp on the turbulence (wake) issue during their cross-examinations.
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