CLEARVIEW TWP. – Tilting at windmills is about to take on new meaning.
Individuals, a non-profit organization, two municipalities and a regional government are about to joust with the Ontario government regarding its approval of eight wind turbines.
The turbines to be taller than Toronto’s TD tower on flat agricultural land near two aerodromes would generate 16.4MW of electricity.
Six parties, including the municipalities of Collingwood and Clearview are fighting the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s (MOECC) approval in March of a wpd Fairview Wind project.
April 12 is date of the preliminary hearing held by the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) to set up the roster of individuals and groups seeking status either for or against wpd’s Fairview Wind Project.
“There is still an opportunity to participate,” said Clearview Coun. Kevin Elwood at Monday night’s Clearview council meeting.
Elwood is also one of the parties appealing the decision, as he owns land on Hwy. 91 adjacent to the location, west of Stayner.
People wanting status in the hearing as a party, participant or presenter should submit their request in writing, via email, to the case co-ordinator before 4 p.m. on April 4.
The main hearing will be held May 16. Both the prehearing and the hearing will take place at the Collingwood Curling Club starting at 10 a.m.
The purpose of the hearing is for the ERT to review the MOECC’s decision. The hearing will consider if engaging in the renewable energy project would cause serious harm to human health or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment, according to a ERT letter.
If the tribunal determines that such harm would be caused, it can reverse the decision, or direct change. If the tribunal determines that such harm will occur, it will uphold the decision.
The tribunal is required by legislation to issue a decision no later than six months from the date that the notice of appeal was received. In this case, the date is Aug. 19.
The County of Simcoe, Preserve Clearview, and John Wiggins are also appealing the turbines.
Collingwood council has been voicing their disapproval of the project under the Green Energy Act since 2012.
wpd submitted the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) application for the project in August, 2012. The company had received a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contract from the government in 2010.
MOECC accepted the accepted the REA but as slow to issue final approval that would allow construction to begin.
wpd decided to take MOECC to court and had a date set for March 12.
Knowing of the upcoming court case, Clearview and Collingwood filed for intervenor status in the case.
But on March 11, the MOECC granted wpd final approval.
Collingwood and Clearview were then not able to voice their disapproval in court and councils for both municipalities filed appeals shortly thereafter, as did the County of Simcoe and three other parties.
The construction of the wind turbines has long been a safety concern with the runway of the Collingwood Regional Airport being about 3,000 metres from the closest turbine.
The airport runs a pilot school.
Elwood has an airstrip on his property that would be even closer to the turbines, and would likely force him to shut down.
The municipalities of Collingwood and Clearview also support the construction of a business park adjacent to the Collingwood Regional Airport and an economic development study has shown that the turbines would discourage businesses to set up beside the airport if wind turbines are built in the area, posing a threat to pilots and aircraft.
Clearview is also concerned about the safety of its residents living near the airport, should there be a plane crash with a turbine.
A status request form is available at the website: ert.gov.on.ca. The case co-ordinator is Eva Pietrzyk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The public is welcome to attend the pre-hearing and hearing but only those with status are allowed to address the tribunal.
Also in renewable energy news for Clearview, Coun. Connie Leishman told council that the BluEarth Renewables bid for the Edenvale Solar Project was “denied.”
The company had bid for 29 MW through the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) Large Renewable Procurement.
Clearview council had endorsed the project, to be located on land adjacent to the Edenvale Aerodrome, which gave it extra points in the bidding process.
Another solar project Clearview Sun Solar, owned by Invenergy LLC, which was to build a 50mW project on 277 acres near New Lowell was also unsuccessful in its bid to the province.
Council had opposed its installation following a public protest outside the Clearview Administration Centre in late September.
IESO awarded 16 LRP contracts on March 10 for a total 454.9 MW of renewable energy capacity. Of the 16, five are wind, seven solar and four hydroelectric.
BluEarth Renewables Inc. was accepted for a 54 MW solar project in the Township of Stone Milles. Invenergy LLC was selected for both a 6.75 MW solar project in Oro-Medonte at theLake Simcoe Regional Airport and a 57.5 MW wind project in the municipality of Dutton Dunwich.
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