By Sharon Hill, The Windsor Star
A proposed ban on wind turbines within five kilometres of the shoreline isn’t enough, Kingsville Coun. Tamara Stomp said Wednesday.
“Nobody wants even five kilometres,” Stomp said, referring to the provincial government’s proposed rules for offshore turbines.
“Just ban them outright, OK, Mr. Government?”
Kingsville council decided this week to hire a consultant and add its concerns about offshore wind turbines to the proposed regulations. Leamington is being asked to share in the cost. The public has until Aug. 24 to comment.
Coun. Gord Queen also wants a ban on turbines in the Great Lakes.
Queen said the five-kilometre ban on wind turbines is just a proposal. He said opponents to offshore wind turbines south of Kingsville and Leamington thought they had a total ban in 2006, but the provincial government lifted it in 2008. With the extra cost to build turbines out in the lake, Queen said we don’t need them.
“Just because you call it green doesn’t necessarily make it good.”
Stomp said if the five-kilometre rule stays in place it would only put the turbines in the shipping channel. She said wind turbines should be banned on the Great Lakes because we don’t know the impact on navigation, fish habitats or migrating birds, especially around Point Pelee, and sand shifting.
Municipalities across Essex County had been considering spending money to study the impacts of offshore wind turbines earlier this year and fight a proposal by SouthPoint Wind for hundreds of turbines almost circling Essex County.
SouthPoint Wind has been proposing 15 turbines south of Kingsville and Leamington in Lake Erie for years but by February was proposing to build another 700 turbines in lakes Erie and St. Clair around Essex County and south of Chatham-Kent. In its online proposal for the 15 turbines, the closest turbines could have been less than 1.5 kilometres from shore.
The offshore wind farms were met with opposition at meetings in March. Lawn signs against offshore wind started popping up.
When the proposed five-kilometre ban was announced in late June, Essex MPP Bruce Crozier said in a news release that the setback eliminates projects being proposed in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair and he would “continue to work to ensure that no offshore projects go forward in our community.”
Stomp said nothing has changed. The five-kilometre ban from shore isn’t final and people need to respond during the government’s comment period.
Proposed rules for offshore wind turbines are posted on the environmental registry at www.ebr.gov.on.ca and the public can comment until Aug. 24.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is also reviewing when, where and how Crown land would be available for green energy projects and could outline other areas where wind turbines would not be allowed.
A government discussion paper on the offshore wind approval requirements said the proposed exclusion zone would be five kilometres from the water’s edge of the Great Lakes, other lakes such as Lake St. Clair and major islands.
The zone would establish a distance between drinking water intake pipes and is also intended to make sure the noise levels are within acceptable levels of 40 decibels at the shore, said the report, which is available online. The zone would also separate turbines from near shore activities such as boating. The discussion paper said shipping-related exclusion areas will be established.
The discussion paper said the near shore area on the Great Lakes often contains “important habitat for fish, animals and birds” but that the base of wind turbines could provide or improve fish habitat.
No offshore wind applications have been approved, and until the province defines an exclusion zone, it is not accepting applications for offshore wind developments.
SouthPoint Wind didn’t respond to a request about its plans Wednesday.
The Leamington company had hired high-profile spokesman Daniel Cherrin, who has a Michigan public relations firm and had been the spokesman for former Detroit mayor Ken Cockrel Jr., but Cherrin said Monday his work for the Leamington company ended after the March 27 public meetings.