Wind power fight in Wainfleet. About 50 residents stood outside in the frozen cold protesting the installation of wind turbines in Wainfleet. Turbines were debated Tuesday night as the owners of Skydive Burnaby discussed the dangers of having the machines built near their facility.
“Stop the wind turbines.”
That was the main message adorning the many signs held by about 50 people as they protested outside Wainfleet Township hall Tuesday night in the freezing cold. Inside, the council chamber’s gallery was packed as residents who spoke urged township council to support a province-wide moratorium on the installation of wind turbines.
Two wind turbines are proposed to be built on land owned by the Loeffen family west of Station Road. The project is headed up by IPC Energy, who was represented by president John Andrews Tuesday night.
The main concerns were brought forth by Mike and Tara Pitt, the owners and operators of Skydive Burnaby in Wainfleet, who feared the installation of the turbines would create a safety issue with skydivers landing in the area.
Tara said the company is not against the development of green energy, but would like council to support a moratorium on the turbine constructions. Tara said aldermen can declare a conflict of interest because there is much at stake in Wainfleet.
“They are 400 feet tall and are directly west of our landing area,” Tara said. “Eighty per cent of the time when jumpers leave two to four kilometres west of the airport. They fly 400 to 500 feet above the moving blades. You’ll face the turbines as you approach them. If you get caught in the blades it could cause (divers) to turn away and have them land in undesirable positions.”
Tara noted Skydive Burnaby brings in thousands of tourists each year, and urged council to make a responsible decision to participate in a moratorium.
John Andrews, president of IPC Energy, said the Loeffen family take the concerns of safety very seriously. Andrews said he met with Mike Pitt twice to make him aware of the plans.
Andrews said there were two turbines planned on the east side of Station Road which is closer to Skydive Burnaby but because the Pitts were concerned with its location they were moved west of Station Road, north of Concession 1 and west of Sideroad 20.
“They are 1.7 kilometres west of Skydive Burnaby,” Andrews said. “Mr. Pitt has been on a campaign to stop the construction, even though they are not close to the drop zone. If we were in any violation of any Transport Canada guidelines, I’d imagine they would be all over us and we’d cease and desist.”
Andrews said IPC has investigated the proper drop zone clearance for Skydive Burnaby and there were no concerns.
“Wind is our business too. WE study it, take it seriously and understand it,” Andrews said. “I do not see this as an issue.”
Resident Andrew Watts spoke about the effectiveness of wind turbines. While he claimed he’s “not an engineer,” but “a retiree who cares about my future,” Watts said research he’s done unveiled that wind energy only holds three per cent of total energy production in the province and only one per cent of all energy from wind turbines goes back into the grid.
Andrews also urged council to invest in the moratorium.
During council discussion Ald. David Wyatt said there has always been concerns about wind energy industry coming to Wainfleet and how it could have negative impacts on existing businesses. While he’s all for development of Wainfleet as a tourism and recreational destination, green energy would not provide enough jobs or business for Wainfleet.
Safety is also a major concern, Wyatt said.
“If there is concern of one injury it’s enough to hold it off,” he said.
Ald. Richard Dykstra said there’s not much the township can do in decision making because of boundaries set forth by the Green Energy Act. Dykstra asked CAO Scott Luey what the township could do.
Luey said the township is a commenting agency, providing feedback to IPC through the provincial government. Luey said it’s IPC who sells hydro to the province and it’s the province who sets the approval for turbine construction.
“Our intention to gather public comments and have a separate meeting of our own,” said Luey. The meeting will take Feb. 23 , 7 p.m. at township hall.
“We can’t make any approvals but we can move forward with any information there is,” Luey said.
By DAVE JOHNSON, Welland Tribune
WAINFLEET — Wainfleet could join a growing list of municipalities asking the province to impose a moratorium on wind farms.
Ald. David Wyatt made a notice of motion at Tuesday’s township council meeting after three different people spoke about Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. and its proposed wind farm. Wyatt’s motion will come forward at the Jan. 25 council meeting.
Resident Andrew Watts was the first to speak about the wind farm, marking the second time he’s appeared before council on the issue.
“The Green Energy Act is based on a fantasy and based in fallacy. No country that has tried wind farms has found them to be successful,” said Watts.
“There’s something wrong with the alternative energies they are trying to push on us.”
Not only are there 70 municipalities in Ontario asking for a moratorium on wind farms, but Denmark is no longer building onshore wind farms. Watts said Denmark is held up by the wind industry as an example of a place where wind farms work.
He said the country has between 4,000 and 7,000 wind turbines, but public opposition to them is growing.
And while setbacks from homes in Denmark and other places in Europe are two to three kilometres onshore, in Ontario it’s only 550 metres.
Watts said if independent studies showed wind farms were safe for humans and the environment, he would be the first one in favour of them.
Mike and Tara Pitt, owners of Skydive Burnaby, told council they weren’t opposed to green energy, but are worried about two proposed turbines near their business.
They, too, asked council to for a moratorium on wind farms.
The Pitts explained how 80% of the time jumpers from their club leave planes west of the field, which would take them over the turbine towers proposed for Station Rd.
“Our jumpers would be within 150 metres to 350 metres above the turbines and blades,” said Tara Pitt.
She said if a jumper experienced a problem with a chute, that person could collide with the turbines or crash into the ground trying to avoid them.
She said the club, located on Burnaby Rd., sees between 300 and 500 people out each weekend, has held numerous Canadian skydive records and has had members compete around the world.
“We’re known worldwide,” she said, adding jumpers may stay away if there is a hazard like the wind turbines.
IPC Energy president John Andrews was the last to speak on the issue. IPC is the company developing the wind farm in Wainfleet on behalf of Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc., owned locally by the Loeffen family.
Andrews told council he wouldn’t even begin to address issues brought up by Watts.
“It would take me an hour and a half to repudiate what he brought up,” he said, adding there is a lot of junk science out there when it comes to wind farms.
Andrews said the company has taken the Pitts’ concerns very seriously.
“We had planned for more turbines closer to the club, but when the Pitts expressed their concerns, we moved them …”
While talking to council, Andrews presented a few slides that showed the direction of wind off of Lake Erie. It showed the wind coming more from a southwest direction, than from the west, where the two towers would be located.
Council heard that if IPC was in violation of any Transport Canada rules regarding obstructions near skydive facilities, it would have heard something by now.
“We have applied to all relevant agencies and have had no negative feedback to date from anyone,” said Andrews.
He said during one meeting with the Pitts they had no objection to the location of two remaining towers, but now wanted them removed or moved back four kilometres.
“If they want four kilometres of clearance, that would take out all the wind towers from this project and from the proposed Rankin project,” he said.
“The wind is our business, too, and we take it very seriously. As far as we’re concerned we do not see this as an issue or danger to jumpers.”