Posts Tagged ‘Essex considers wind farms ban’

Essex considers wind farms ban

December 16, 2008

Enbridge wind farm Kincardine

Enbridge wind farm Kincardine

Essex considers wind farms ban

ESSEX — The Town of Essex became the first area municipality to propose a ban Monday on wind turbine projects until all health questions raised by residents are clearly answered by provincial experts.

“We are gambling with the health, safety and quality of life of the people around us,” said Coun. Ron Rogers, who proposed the ban. “We need answers and guidance from our provincial ministries.”

The council debate on the ban is set for Feb. 23 to allow wind industry, provincial government and health experts to respond to issues such as noise, vibration, risk of structural failure, ice throw from blades, and electrical surges.

Input will also be sought from other Ontario municipalities that have banned or are about to ban the giant turbines even though provincial planning policy has encouraged wind energy development.

Rogers said he was frustrated with the divergent opinions on wind turbines, and the lack of help from the province and Essex County in sorting them out.

Among local municipalities, for example, the minimum proposed setback from turbines to homes ranges from the high of 600 metres in Amherstburg to the low of 300 metres in Lakeshore and Kingsville, Rogers noted. Essex decided to go down the middle with a minimum setback of 450 metres, he added.

Provincial experts ought to advise municipalities on safe setbacks for wind turbines so the numbers don’t vary all over Ontario, Rogers said.

The $100,000 study done by Essex County on wind energy ducked the minimum setback issue completely, Rogers said.

Council chamber was packed with residents who mostly applauded Roger’s idea. Mayor Ron McDermott had to ask some not to interrupt councilors or risk ejection.

None of the companies that have proposed wind turbine projects in the town were present.

Closest to starting construction in 2009 is a 24 turbine, $100 million project by AIM PowerGen over 1,400 acres of farmland southwest of Harrow. That project is supposed to annually generate about $300,000 in lease payments to farmers and about $81,000 in property taxes.

“I won’t support the motion before us tonight,” said Coun. Randy Voakes. “Don’t think I haven’t wrestled with it.”

In tough economic times, the town has to accept development that will bring some new jobs and revenue into the community, Voakes. “Every little bit will help families in need,” he said.

Voakes thought the health questions raised by Rogers had been answered in the last two years. “We’re the only municipality dragging our feet on this issue.”

But Rogers downplayed the job creation benefits of wind turbines as limited to construction crews and a handful of full-time maintenance workers.

McDermott objected to the government telling municipalities to accept wind energy without answering all the questions that residents are asking. “They’re making us spend our money to investigate this,” said the mayor.

“I want the province to tell me what a safe setback is,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche.

Meloche added: “I probably get 20 emails a day on the horror stories people have gone through.” On the other hand, he added, wind turbine companies say complaints are rare and the risks minimal.

“I have concerns,” said Meloche – but not the expertise to make decisions.

Full story at the Windsor Star

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