The township's legal woes won't end with the approval of the operations plan. South Shore Road resident Martin Hauschild is also taking the township to court at the end of August. Hauschild said that because the road in front of his house was built on land he owns, neither the township nor the company can build part of the project on that land.
The Amherst Island wind energy project took a step closer to reality Tuesday night.
Loyalist Township council approved Algonquin Power’s subsidiary Windlectric Inc.’s operations plan for the construction of up to 26 wind turbines on the island.
“Algonquin is pleased that the Operations Plan was approved,” senior project manager Ariel Bautista said in a statement. “The Operations Plan was prepared after significant public consultation, and its approval is a meaningful milestone for the project.”
Approval of the plan had been deferred in late May because township staff were not satisfied that Windlectric had determined how best to protect the island’s road system.
“Over the past several weeks there has been extensive and positive dialogue with the Algonquin team,” Dave Thompson, director of infrastructure services, wrote in a report to council that recommended approval of the operations plan.
The decision was “disappointing from a resident’s point of view,” said island resident Amy Caughey, whose family has lived on the island for about 150 years.
Caughey’s main point of concern was safety around the school. The concrete batch plant for the project is to be built less than a kilometre from the school.
“Some of the questions that are still outstanding for parents regard safety around the school,” Caughey said.
“It’s emissions, it’s noise, it’s the industrial construction zone in the field directly adjacent to the school. It’s the cumulative effect of all those things that haven’t been addressed.”
Caughey said recent changes to the plans for the island’s roads set a concerning precedent.
Initially the company had said roads would need to be widened at three locations on the island to accommodate large construction vehicles.
That plan changed with the latest version of the operations plan and now includes widening to 20 kilometres of island roads.
“It makes one wonder if what they told us was going to happen around the school is actually the case,” Caughey said. “What else are they going to change their mind about around the school?”
Caughey said she worries that the concrete plant may be moved closer to the school or expanded.
Township council approved the ninth iteration of the operations plan and Caughey said the project has changed so much since it was approved that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) needs to look at it again.
A review of the project’s renewable energy agreement (REA) from the province has been requested by the lawyer representing the Association to Protect Amherst Island.
“Almost two years after the REA, the Project approved by the Minister in August 2015 is materially very different from the one that is being proposed,” lawyer Eric Gillespie wrote in a letter to the provincial body responsible for issuing the project approval.
The township’s legal woes won’t end with the approval of the operations plan.
South Shore Road resident Martin Hauschild is also taking the township to court at the end of August.
Hauschild said that because the road in front of his house was built on land he owns, neither the township nor the company can build part of the project on that land.
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