By MONTE SONNENBERG, QMI AGENCY, www.woodstocksentinelreview.com
Haldimand County and its farmers are at odds about the future of green energy in the municipality. Haldimand council last week rejected a motion from the county’s agricultural advisory committee calling for a moratorium on solar energy projects on viable farmland.
The advisory committee is not convinced that land used for solar energy can be easily reverted to agriculture. As well, the committee says there are better places for solar panels such as the rooftops of homes, businesses and institutions in urban areas where the energy they generate will be used.
“The Haldimand Federation of Agriculture and the Haldimand County Agricultural Advisory Committee are comprised of farmers that make their living off the land,” Brent Everets, chair of the advisory committee, said in a report to Haldimand council. “It is in their interest to ensure that productive farmland is not only preserved and the soil maintained, but that agricultural production continues to be an important sector within Haldimand County.”The issue of green energy is coming to a head because two solar farms and two wind farms have been proposed for Haldimand. Municipalities in Ontario no longer control where green energy projects go.
However, that hasn’t stopped municipalities and community groups from registering their concern as a means of pressuring the province.Haldimand council turned down the advisory committee recommendation at its June 14 meeting. At the same meeting, council refused to endorse a recommendation from Norfolk council for a moratorium on wind turbine development until their alleged impact on human health is thoroughly analyzed.Haldimand’s agricultural advisory committee and Norfolk council put Haldimand council in a tough spot because the latter has signalled to the province that it wishes Haldimand County to serve as “the green energy hub” for southern Ontario.Mayor
Marie Trainer says it is imperative for Haldimand to follow through on this because of the pending closure of the Nanticoke Generating Station. The province may ultimately convert the plant to other fuels, but until decisions are made in this area the county is at risk of losing 600 high-paying jobs, $4 million a year in property taxes and $3 million in spin-off benefits to the wider economy.“We want to be known as the energy hub of southern Ontario,” Trainer said. “We can’t survive without it.”
Trainer added now is not the time for Haldimand council to send contradictory messages about its objectives.Jarvis-area Coun. Leroy Bartlett worries about the proposal that would bring as many as 120 wind turbines to an area along the lake-shore straddling the Norfolk- Haldimand boundary line. Eighty per cent of the turbines would be located in a 130-square-kilometre area of south Walpole Township.Bartlett is concerned because the huge turbines need to be anchored in 7.6 metres of concrete. If there is insufficient ground cover for that, the turbines have to be bolted to the underlying bedrock.
Bartlett says south Walpole does not have sufficient ground cover for concrete bases. He worries about the potential for vibration problems if this many turbines are anchored to the bedrock so close together.“That’s a huge concern for me,” Bartlett said. “If there are vibrations, how will that affect residents?”