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Wind turbines and Collingwood Airport a bad mix: report

Thanks but no thanks to the idea of wind turbines near Collingwood Regional Airport.

Both the town of Collingwood and Clearview Township released copies of a joint study by Malone Given Parsons Ltd, along with Aeronautical Information consultant Charles Cormier, on the economic impact of Collingwood Regional Airport in light of an application to construct wind turbines in the area.

Both municipalities are trying to convince the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) of the potential economic impact of the proposed wind farm in Clearview Township.

The Fairview Wind Project put forward by wpd Canada is a 16.4 megawatt (MW) wind project and when operating and will feed an estimated 40m kWh annually into the local electricity grid, equivalent, they say, to the average annual power usage of 2,200 homes. If accepted by the MOECC at a hearing slated for next month, the company plans to begin construction in the summer, according to their website.

Both Collingwood and Clearview maintain that five turbines proposed by wgd would intrude in the airport’s operating space.

More to the point Clearview argues, for the MOECC to give wpd Canada permission to construct the Fairview Wind Project would effectively eliminate any chance of the proposed $300 million dollar expansion proposed by the Clearview Aviation Business Park.

The recommendations from the joint study strongly suggest that to allow the wpd Canada proposal to stand would be ‘fatal for business expansion’ at the regional airport site.

The report also cites that geographically the turbine locations will have significant impacts to the airport’s operating procedures, including landing and take-off minimums and general accessibility.

Further, the joint report says that wpd Canada should at best be required to move the turbines proposed to not intrude into the Collingwood Regional Airport (CRA) operating airspace, or that wpd’s Renewable Energy Approval application should be denied.

For it’s part wpd Canada argues that it is common for an airport to operate near tall objects such as communication towers, mountains, buildings and wind turbines. Man-made objects are lit and marked according to Transport Canada’s standards and are depicted on navigational charts. The Toronto Billy Bishop (Island) Airport operates commercial flights and charters safely despite being within 2 km of the Toronto downtown core.

Clearview Township has rejected wpd Canada’s proposal since it was introduced in 2013.

Charlie Tatham, chair of the strategic board for CABP and an experienced pilot responded to the MOECC challenging some of wpd Canada’s assertions into safety in a letter saying, “I was incredulous to read their soothing remarks about the coexistence of a busy airport such as Billy Bishop (Toronto Island) and the CN Tower, as proof that aircraft and major obstructions happily coexist. This is an alarming and misleading statement. No aircraft gets within 25 miles of Billy Bishop airport without being radar identified and then required to follow precise directions from an Area Control Centre. In short, this is one of the most controlled airspaces in North America.” wrote Tatham.

“I continue to fervently believe that there is no compelling reason to erect the turbines so close to the airport when they will obviously create degradation to safety and commerce.”

The courts have adjourned the hearing on wpd’s application for the turbines until to mid-February.