CLEARVIEW TWP. – The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has given the green light to allow the construction of eight 137 metres (450 ft) wind turbines east of Stayner one day before proponent wpd Canada was to take the government to court.
MOECC awarded the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) application Thursday. The court case, which has now been cancelled, was to begin Friday.
The Township of Clearview had fought for intervenor status at court in order to oppose the project, on the north and south side of Country Rd. 91.
“I am extremely disappointed that the Ministry of Environment has gone ahead in light of all the work we’ve done to show the side effects and how it will impact economic development in Clearview and the County of Simcoe,” said Clearview Mayor Chris Vanderkruys.
“It’s a project that the township was clearly against. The provincial government doesn’t listen at all. They do what they want. The fact that we had to fight for intervenor status is crazy,” Vandkerkruys added.
“However this happened between wpd and the government, they didn’t include us at all,” he added.
Two of the turbines to be located on the north side of the County Rd. 91 will be less than 2,000 metres from the runway at the Collingwood Regional Airport.
The airport, which is owned by the Town on Collingwood on 158 ha (392 acres) in Clearview, has fought the project from the start saying turbine height will affect flight paths and pose a danger to pilots in inclement weather.
Additionally private landowners to the east of the Concession 6 airport, have had plans for years to build the Clearview Aviation Business Park (CABP) to attract aerospace industries and high paying jobs to the region. Studies and plans are almost complete and the project is ready to begin construction.
An economic development impact study undertaken by both The Town of Collingwood and Clearview Township concluded the turbines would have a negative impact in the township predominately due to being a deterrent for businesses to set up at the proposed CABP.
wpd Canada in a press release stated “We are pleased the ministry has approved the Fairview project.
“We’re hopeful we can begin construction in relatively short order, using competitively-price local labour and services as much as possible,” wrote spokesperson Kevin Surette.
Once constructed, Fairview will feed an estimated 39,838,000 kWh annually into the local electricity grid; equivalent to the average annual power usage of 2,276 homes.
The project has been approved, “subject to prescriptive conditions designed to ensure the safety of pilots who may fly into the Collingwood Regional Airport or Stayner Airfield,” it stated.
Regulations imposed by NAV Canada, Transport Canada and the MOECC will be implemented as required, it stated.
Surette added that Canada has an enviable record aviation safety record with a well-established process that will continue to ensure safety in aviation.
Approval of the project also includes conditions concerning noise and the environment, he wrote.
The Fairview project will be built on land owned by farmers John and Andrew Beattie who will be lease holders.
In a statement sent to local officials and media Thursday afternoon, they wrote that airport industrial growth should go to the business park located near the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro-Medonte Township rather than take up agricultural land adjacent to the Collingwood airport.
Land zoned agricultural and environmental will have to be rezoned and an Official Plan amendment would have to passed by the County of Simcoe and that the County in following the Growth Plan for the Greater Horseshoe within the Places to Grow Act will find that the business park plans don’t fit within those polices, they wrote.
“In fact, we been told that such a zoning application would be dead in the water and could not stand up to an Ontario Municipal Board appeal if for some reason Simcoe approved it.
“The Growth Plan aims to, among other things, protect farmland. The previous council was on records as supporting agriculture, but it’s unclear to us how the present council’s intention to remove (89 ha) 220 acres of agricultural land achieves this,” they wrote.
Vanderkruys said the 107-hectare aviation park land has been in the Official Plan for industrial related land for about 10 years and that about 30 acres (12 ha) of the land is not agricultural but zoned environmental.
wpd Canada is based in Mississauga and is owned by a German company that builds green energy projects in 18 countries around the world.
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