The municipal district councillors want to discuss wind turbine aviation warning lights with federal regulators.
Reeve Brian Hammond amended a letter from council to the federal transport minister, Lisa Raitt, and MP John Barlow, to include both a request for a review of wind turbine lighting regulations and an appeal for a meeting with the minister or senior officials.
“I appreciate very much council’s willingness to look at this issue and consider it as one of some significance,” Hammond said.
“We need to do more than write a nice letter to the minister saying, ‘Please look at this,’” he said.
Councillor Garry Marchuk clarified that Hammond was asking for a meeting in Pincher Creek.
“Well then we should have it at night,” he said. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Hammond said the he would find it hard to believe that the government would refuse the meeting, however Deputy Reeve Terry Yagos noted they might get an invitation to a meeting in Ottawa.
“If we don’t request a meeting we probably aren’t going to get one,” Hammond said.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Councillor Fred Schoening said. “And I’d love to have the opportunity to consult with the minister or the department of transport about it. Councillor Marchuk made a very good point, I think it would be very important for them to see firsthand the effect it has.”
Yagos suggested collecting some photographic evidence of the lighting.
“The only people who really understand the magnitude of this thing is people who watch it on a regular basis,” Hammond said. “And most of us don’t, most of us don’t see it.”
Hammond noted that it is a good opportunity to make a point because the MD has heard repeated complaints about the lights.
At a coffee with council session last month one resident brought up the issue for discussion.
“It’s bad and it’s getting worse,” he said about the effect of the coordinated pulses of red light. “We’re anticipating, in our area anyway, more turbines and turbines are also slated in other areas as well. It in fact is going to be the case that all new installations of wind turbines in upcoming years are going to be part of that same regulatory regiment. They’re all going to have synchronized strobe lights.”
“By the time five or 10 years have passed the whole MD will basically be a hell’s broth of really unpleasant flashing lights,” he said.
Wind farms and turbines must be marked with flashing white or red lights, as set out in the Obstruction Marking and Lighting section of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
While not every turbine in a wind farm is required to have a light the act stipulates that,” All indicator lighting provided for a wind farm flashes simultaneously… (and) are mounted to ensure an unobstructed view by a pilot approaching from all angles of aircraft approach.”
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