Siting turbines near busy airport runway “just plain loony”

by John Spears, Toronto Star

A proposed array of giant wind turbines could crimp plans for Collingwood Regional Airport to build its business, says an airport official. The developer of the wind farm says the turbines – the closest of which would be 3 kilometres from the airport – pose no threat to airport operations, according to an expert consultant.

But Charlie Tatham, who heads the services board that operates the airport for the town, says the technical arguments of experts only go so far. “The less technical concern is: it’s just plain loony,” Tatham said in an interview about the proposed turbines. “What would possess them to stick them within a couple of kilometres of a busy airport runway?” “It’s embarrassing in some respects to have to explain why it’s dumb to put 500-foot towers close to a busy airport. It’s just dumb.”

Tatham and several local politicians have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to air their concerns.

The wind farm at the root of the issue has been proposed by wpd Canada Corporation of Mississauga.

The company wants to erect eight turbines just west of the village of Stayner, the closest about 3 kilometres south of Collingwood airport. The blades would reach 150 metres (492 feet) above ground level.

The wind development, if it goes ahead, won’t shut down the airport, Tatham acknowledges.

But it will require some modifications in flight paths in and out.

In addition, a consultant’s report commissioned by the airport says:

“There is significant concern that the turbines are very close to the normal departure zone, and could cause a safety hazard to departing aircraft in marginal visibility conditions.”

The airport has been trying to boost its attractiveness to corporate and business aircraft, especially with the impending closure of Buttonville airport, says Tatham. Buttonville was sold to a developer last year; it is slated to close within five years.

Traffic at Collingwood airport has been growing at 10 to 15 per cent a year for the past several years, he says.

The airport has also spent $100,000 on new equipment making it easier for aircraft to make instrument approaches. The turbines, he says, will protrude into these approach areas, forcing the aircraft into higher flight paths.

It makes the airport less attractive, he says: “Looking at it as a common sense, what on earth would you do this for?”

Kevin Surette, a spokesman for wpd, says his firm hasn’t been given the consultant’s report commissioned by the airport.

But he says his firm has carefully studied the area for several years.

“Safety has always been our Number One concern,” says Surette.

The company hired its own consultant, he said:

“His report has said there are no safety issues to be concerned of.”

Surette says the site was chosen after the company studied wind maps to choose promising locations, then measured wind characteristics in promising areas and found local landowners who were willing to lease their property for turbines.

He said wpd will make a careful study of the report prepared by the airport’s consultant, once it is provided to the company.

If the company gets clearance from provincial authorities to move ahead with the project, the turbines could be up and running by the spring of 2013, Surette said.

11 thoughts on “Siting turbines near busy airport runway “just plain loony”

  1. Bottom line — enough foolish landowners who will lease their land. My guess is a lot of them are absentee landowners.

  2. The loss of a few aircraft to wind turbines is minor when compared to the number of aircraft brought down from bird-strikes (witness the double engine failure last year in New York City). Besides, the wind power company will take measures to “mitigate” the impact of turbines on aircraft once the towers are constructed, I’m sure…(heavy sarcasm)

  3. Evidence for file:
    McGuinty Liberals have lost control of “Energy in Ontario” – complete chaos!
    Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to blame! Period.
    Get Rid of the OPA!
    They are creating a disaster for all – including shareholders.

  4. Planes must fly a certain number of feet below cloud cover, and in conditions where cloud ceiling is low, there may not be enough space above the turbines and beneath the cloud cover to use the runway. Turbines also may interfere with radar and radio communications, not to mention any improvements in the approach systems.

    • In Dale Dolan’s, also of OSEA, May 2006 paper,”Lightning Exposure Of wind Turbines” it is stated that the risk of upward lightning/ground to cloud increases as structure height exceeds 100 meters.Could make for quite a dangerous distraction for pilots if any of these turbines lights up like a rocket when they are landing or taking off.

  5. Brought to you by the Liberal Party of Ontario

    “Stupid is … as stupid does”

  6. According to ALL wind developers, wind turbines cause NO THREAT to anything!! Nothing at all folks!! Unbelievable!!!

  7. Of course this is not the only siting issue created by a stupid energy project…–prince-charles-are-you-listening-oshawa-s-mayor-needs-your-help?bn=1

    “The federal government, which is considering funding the 12-hectare, $185 million plant, must be told that a “giant factory with huge smokestacks” doesn’t belong on Oshawa’s “spectacular” waterfront, said Henry, noting there are more suitable locations in Durham Region.”

    Industrial Wind Turbines, Ethanol and Solar Power — the triumvirate of insane Green Policies…

    Surely all these people will end up on the 9th level of Dantes Inferno… or maybe there is a special place…

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