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Wind turbines may limit growth of airport: MP

PETERBOROUGH  – The manger of Peterborough’s airport says a proposed wind turbine near Millbrook could limit the future growth of the revamped facility.

Trent Gervais says the proposed turbine – part of a five-turbine project in the area – is on one of the airport’s landing approaches and, if built as proposed, would prevent the airport’s ability to meet its future needs.

“Right now one wind turbine is definitely on our approach. That’s an issue,” he says.

It would, for example, prevent a chartered flight company from setting up at the airport. Mr. Gervais and others have met with the proponents of the Sumac Ridge wind turbine project to try and find a solution. As well, a designer has been hired to see what impact the four other turbines may have on the future growth of the airport. That report is expected to be provided to Mr. Gervais Tuesday.

Mr. Gervais notes that this is situation is not unique to Peterborough and is a concern at airports across the province.

Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro raised the issue in the House of Commons Monday. He is calling on transportation minister, Lisa Raiit, to review the mitigation agreement provided to the proponents of the Sumac Ridge Industrial wind farm project.

As well, Kawartha Lakes MPP Laurie Scott called on the premier to place a moratorium on wind projects.

NAV Canada, which oversees air traffic in Canada, has approved the wind turbine project, but with conditions.

Sumac must lower the turbine, move it to a new location or sign an agreement with the airport that would allow it remain as proposed.

Peterborough mayor Daryl Bennett says the practical approach would be to move the turbine in question. He says while the city would not normally get in involved in an issue in another municipality, but project will potentially impact the growth of the airport.

The airport has undergone more than $50 million in upgrades over the past few years with most of that money coming from the federal, provincial and municipal government.

Sumac Ridge faces significant opposition from many in the community. The project has also threatened to end a proposed multi-million dollar Buddhist retreat in the region.

The company handling the project, wpd, has said once constructed, the project will feed an estimated 26,497,200 kWh of clean, renewable energy annually into the electricity grid: an equivalent to the average annual power use of 1,514 homes.

The Ministry of Environment approved the project in December of 2013. That decision has been appealed by opponents of the project. The hearing for the appeal began today (Feb. 24).