Jim Wilson and a busload of more than 60 wind turbine opponents went to Queen’s Park In Toronto with guns blazing but were again stonewalled by the Minister of the Environment.
Simcoe Grey MPP Jim Wilson presented a private members resolution to the house in hopes that the government would scrap the approval for wpd Canada’s project of erecting eight 500-foot-high industrial wind turbines within two kilometres of the Collingwood Regional Airport.
“This is a very busy regional airport with 11,000 takeoffs and landings a year,” Wilson told the house, directing his attack to the Minister of the Environment Glenn Murray. “I have no doubt that your director is following the law, but it is you guys that changed the law that took planning authority away from local municipalities so that they could direct where these things should go.”
“No local municipality would ever put 500-foot tall wind turbines within 2.1 nautical miles of the end of a runway, that’s about four seconds after you take off,” Wilson yelled across the house.
The Ontario Green Energy Act (GEA) was introduced by the Liberal Government under Dalton McGuinty in 2009, and was intended to expand renewable energy production, encourage energy conservation and create green jobs for the province, while other criticism have been the high tariff rates and the overabundance of energy generated by the province.
It has been a sore point for municipalities objecting to projects the communities felt were detrimental to their own zoning and planning.
In a press conference at Queen’s Park, Clearview councillor and owner of an aerodrome close to the proposed site Kevin Elwood challenged the government’s position that NavCan, a privately run, not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation system agrees that the turbines should not have an effect on air traffic either to his own aerodrome or the Collingwood Regional Airport stating that both facilities are uncertified and therefore outside of NavCan’s influence.
Elwood says that there is a gap in legislation between provincial and federal guidelines concerning uncertified aerodromes and airports, that to this point has never been addressed, although challenged by pilot’s associations.
“The province has ignored third party information that outlines the risk of a small aircraft/turbine collision,” said Elwood. “Does this province and all the members who will be voting today on this resolution want to be the first government with blood on it’s hands after these caused the first aircraft-turbine crash in Canada?”
“The province is knowingly approving turbines that are a hazard.”
Kevin Surette, representing wpd Canada, still challenges the concerns.
The Township of Clearview was to have a court hearing concerning the economic impact of the project on the area in February, but the Ministry of the Environment (MOECC) approved the wind farm application the day before the township had their day in court.
The Town of Collingwood, which is one of six appealants in the case before the ERT were advised that more than 100 appeals had been heard since the province’s Green Energy Act came into effect and only three had been able to force amendments to any project that were challenged.
Along with Collingwood and Clearview Township, the County of Simcoe, Kevin Elwood, John Wiggins and the Preserve Clearview citizens group are all appealing the decision at the ERT Tribunal which begins May 16 at the Collingwood Curling Club. These and 14 witness will be presenting to the tribunal which is expected to run three weeks.
Wilson’s private member resolution failed to change anyone’s mind across the house.
“You would think when all of these points are considered, the Liberals would come to their senses,” Wilson said. “Clearly Premier Wynne has given strict instructions that regardless of common sense, regardless of sound arguments, it’s damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead when it comes to so-called green energy projects.”
In the meantime, wpd Canada says that they hope to begin site preparation work by the summer.
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