Transport Canada is standing firm on its order requiring eight wind turbines, owned by GDF SUEZ Canada, to be lowered or removed because they violate height limits near the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport.
The Chatham Daily News has received an e-mail response from the federal agency regarding the issue.
Both GDF SUEZ and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent are upset with the order, delivered late last week, which has been stepped up from a request for the company to voluntarily comply with the Airport Zoning Regulations (AZR), which protects a radius of approximately four kilometres around the airport.
Noting it has originally asked for voluntary compliance, the agency said, “when this was not achieved, Transport Canada issued a notice requiring the company to lower or remove the wind turbines in compliance with the Chatham AZR.”
Transport Canada said it is enforcing the AZR as per its statutory authority under section 5.7 of the Aeronautics Act, that includes a deadline of Dec. 31, 2014 to comply.
GDF SUEZ has said it will be filing a formal objection to the order.
The municipality stated in a media release issued Sunday that its chief legal officer John Norton had met as recently as two months ago with Transport Canada officials proposing an exemption for the eight turbines. It has been argued that several aeronautic consultants have found there is not safety issue with the turbines.
However, it appears the agency is not prepared to budge on its position.
“Transport Canada is not considering an exemption to allow the encroaching wind turbines to remain in place.”
Both the company and municipality have stated Transport Canada knew about the turbine locations before they were constructed, but didn’t notify anyone about this issue until after they were built. The company and municipality also noted the agency approved the lighting for the structures.
“Transport Canada advised several wind farm representatives in writing prior to construction that Airport Zoning Regulations (AZR) were in place and could affect what could be built in the vicinity of the airport,” the agency said.
As for approving the lighting, Transport Canada said its role, with respect to obstacles, is to assess them for lighting and marking requirements in support of aviation safety in accordance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
“A lighting and marking assessment of a wind turbine or wind farm from Transport Canada does not constitute an authorization to construct,” the agency said. “At no time does Transport Canada ever grant authority to construct.”
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