Michael Gennings, Staff, Simcoe.com
STAYNER – A group called Preserve Clearview Inc., has formed in opposition to Wpd Canada’s plan to erect eight wind turbines southwest of Stayner.
The organization says it plans to defend the status quo in Clearview – no turbines.
Wind turbines will destroy the local landscape, the organization says, adding they will also severely damage property values.
As well, the turbines will be seen and heard for miles, the organization says, noting there is mounting evidence the turbines contribute to negative health effects in some people.
“Our group is a real cross-section of the community. Farmers, long-time residents, weekenders and newbies. Everyone is quite shocked,” Preserve Clearview member Michael Dickinson said. “Much of this is about preservation of our rights as landowners. When you look at the size of these turbines, these things are nearly 500 feet. So that’s really something. It’s not like we live in Switzerland, where we’ve got a limited amount of land. This is being shoe-horned in here, an area that’s recreational land and farmland.”
WPD Canada announced recently that it plans – once it obtains provincial approval – to erect the turbines on private property bound by Airport Road, County Road 91, Nottawasaga Concession 6 and Nottawasaga Sideroad 18-19.
Wpd has dubbed the project the Fairview Wind Farm. The company plans to use the turbines to create electricity that can be sold to Hydro One.
Ed Beattie and Sons Ltd., and Wayne Beattie own the subject lands.
The Sun contacted Wayne Beattie and asked for a comment on the wind turbine issue, however, he declined.
Ian MacRae, WPD Canada’s president, did speak with The Sun by telephone and responded to Preserve Clearview’s issues.
“My initial comment is the rules and regulations around Renewable Energy Approval are designed to guard against those complaints [from Preserve Clearview],” he said. “Clearly we wouldn’t get approval if any of the provincial authorities thought we would be jeopardizing people’s health.”
MacRae went on to say companies such as his are governed by strict noise and health rules.
“The maximum noise that can be heard is 40 decibels, which is essentially the sound of a quiet bedroom,” he said. “Turbines have been in Europe for years – at least a decade. They are part of the landscape now. When you first see them you go ‘Wow, look at that’, but by the time you’ve seen them for the 10th or 20th time you don’t see them anymore.
“Now I don’t wish to minimize the impact – these structures are clearly there – but they do work within the landscape, just as hydro poles do and transformer stations and other structures that might have been contested when they first went in.”
Doug Caldwell, Kevin Elwood, Chuck Magwood, Michael Freund, Chris Hoffman and Dickinson, six neighbours of the proposed turbine site, founded Preserve Clearview.
“We’re not against alternative energy, solar or wind – but just at this magnitude,” Dickinson said.
In a letter sent to area property owners recently, the founders say they have retained the law firm of Fogler, Rubinoff to provide legal counsel as the Wpd project moves forward. The Toronto and Ottawa-based firm, which is billed as a mid-size operation – is comprised of nearly 100 lawyers.
Aside from the fledgling Preserve Clearview Inc., Folgers, Rubinoff has several large clients, including financial institutions and publicly traded corporations.
The firm is experienced in several types of law and is well versed in litigation.
As well, Preserve Clearview says it has retained “qualified experts” to review Wpd reports regarding the proposed turbine site near Stayner, in particular reports that relate to noise, hydrology, natural heritage, wildlife, wetlands and woodlots.
Preserve Clearview is asking for support from area residents in the days, weeks and months ahead.
“We welcome your support in any way,” the organization notes in the letter it sent to residents. “This will be an expensive undertaking by Preserve Clearview as it is taking on a foreign corporate wind power giant. We are determined however to fight for what we believe is the preservation of our Clearview values.”
People interested in helping Preserve Clearview Inc., financially are asked to mail contributions, care of Clearview Nursery Ltd., 8257 County Road 91, RR 4, Stayner, ON, LOM 1SO.
The Wpd project is subject to what’s known as Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the province before the turbines can be erected.
In the draft Fairview Wind Farm Project Description Report, the company notes it is in the final stages of negotiations with a turbine manufacturer for eight turbines.
For the turbines to go ahead, a lot of work is still required.
The company states that REA related technical studies will be ongoing until early 2011.
Wpd plans to have its first public open house regarding the project in September 2010.
MacRae told The Stayner Sun a couple weeks ago that he didn’t know exactly where that open house would be held but said people interested in the project should look for information about the meeting in local newspapers.
Draft REA related reports will be available to the public in March 2011, the company notes. MacRae said this information will be available on the company’s website.
A second public open house will be held in spring 2011.
Wpd said it expects to receive project approval from the province in December 2011.
Construction of the turbines and related infrastructure would start in May 2012, the company states, and the commercial operation of the turbines would begin in February 2013.
The company notes the infrastructure should last approximately 25 years.
MacRae said the company has been working on the wind turbine project for the past three years.
Since word of the Stayner-area project spread, MacRae said he’s heard from three types of people.
“People clearly against – they would prefer if we leave. And then there’s other people with clear concerns, they want answers, and we try to give them to them and we leave on good terms. And then there are those that support us. The vast majority don’t want us to go away. The majority of calls we receive are supportive. There are clearly a number of people in the community who support renewable energy.”
And so the battle lines are being drawn.
Sides are being taken.
“I think that when we started out we felt this [stopping it] was a long shot – a one and 10 chance,” Dickinson said. “All you can do though is try and narrow those odds. This isn’t going to be a one or two or three-week thing. We’ll keep plugging away. Maybe there will be a change in government down the road and they won’t want to put these turbines in prime agricultural areas, prime recreational areas. We’ve got to fight the good fight and hopefully common sense prevails.”