Lambton County councillors continued to take a stand against local industrial wind farm development Wednesday, refusing to sign a road use agreement with a large wind developer.
NextEra Energy officials tried to appeal to county councillors at their Wednesday meeting, urging them to sign an agreement outlining the use of local roadways to deliver electricity to the grid from the company’s planned 92-turbine Jericho Wind project.
“As you are aware, a road use agreement is not mandatory,” said NextEra official Derek Dudek, noting the company will have “no alternative” but to continue to proceed with its application before the Ontario Energy Board if the county refused to sign the agreement.
The board recently approved the wind developer’s plans to build a substation and more than 15 kilometres of transmission lines for the Jericho project.
While nearby landowners have expressed several concerns about the installation of the infrastruction, Dudek said the current draft road use agreement “addressed all questions raised.”
NextEra Energy has also brought forward several benefits for the county in the road use agreement, he told council. Some of these benefits include the company’s commitment to moving infrastructure with the eventual widening of Thomson Line, compensation to the tune of between $800,000 and $1.2 million, and up to $50,000 for the county’s phragmite reduction program.
Local anti-wind activist Audrey Broer, who was in attendance, described the company’s presentation as “a threat-slash-bribery.”
She said she remains “very proud” of council for standing their ground on the road use agreement.
County councillors recently voted in favour of joining an appeal of a recent Ministry of the Environment decision involving the Jericho Wind Project.
Parties are expected to argue that the planned wind farm will cause “serious harm” to the health of humans and animals.
Lambton County was recently successful in becoming a party in the case, county solicitor David Cribbs reported to council Wednesday.
Middlesex resident Bob Lewis launched the appeal, but members of We’re Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW) and another individual have come on as a participant and a presenter respectively.
“We’re very proud that the county has backed its status as an unwilling host and I know there is some risk when it comes to awarding costs, but they are doing very, very important work and are one of the few counties who has taken it on,” said Broer, who is a WAIT-PW member.
The hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal is expected to start in Parkhill June 26.
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