The Municipality of Grey Highlands has its first application for a wind energy project.
Council at its regular meeting on April 27 received a lengthy report from municipal planner Lorelie Spencer about the municipality’s first wind energy application. The application is called the Plateau Wind Farm. The proposal would locate a total of ten 1.5 MW large-scale wind turbines at various locations. Nine of the turbines would be in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. The proposal also includes: transmission lines, a meteorological tower and a switching station.
The application is the first test of the alternative energy planning policies adopted by Grey Highlands council. Council did not review the actual planning application at the April 27 meeting. Council took a look at Spencer’s formal comments about the project’s draft Environmental Screening Report/Environmental Assessment Report. Spencer’s report was quite lengthy – 12 pages – and pointed a number of areas of the report that were incomplete or insufficient for the project to continue forward.
Spencer highlighted a number of deficiencies in the ESR/EIS that need to be addressed before the application can move forward. They include:
• Planning Justification Report – scope is inconsistent with local policies
• Visual Impact Assessment – not submitted
• Ice Throw Report – not submitted
• Noise report – scope is inconsistent with local policies
• Management Plan – committed to during pre-consultation with the municipality, but not submitted
• Site Plan – not considered to be of sufficient detail to fulfill the site plan requirements contained in the local Official Plan
• Evidence of no electromagnetic interference – insufficient
During her presentation to council, Spencer significantly reduced the size of her report. Several members of council questioned why the municipality is reducing the number of concerns it has about the reports that have been submitted.
Spencer explained to members of council that her report was shortened for a number of reasons. She said all of the concerns raised in the initial report would be communicated to the proponents of the application. She said in light of the province’s proposed Green Energy Act (Bill 150) she didn’t want the report to appear to be "onerous" with regards to this initial application.
Members of council discussed the report at length. Councillor Paul McQueen said he was concerned the report didn’t include a map showing where the wind towers are being proposed. The reaction of the public to the application was clearly on the minds of councillors. Earlier in the meeting council faced questions from several residents about wind energy projects in the municipality. Council also received a lengthy presentation and report about potential adverse health affects of wind towers from local resident Lorrie Gillis.
With the discussion and comments starting to veer off course into the details of the actual planning application – Mayor Brian Mullin had to steer council back on course.
"These are comments about a draft ESR/EIS report. These are not comments about the application itself," said Mullin, pointing out that the formal Official Plan and zoning bylaw applications will go through a vigorous public process.
Mullin repeatedly warned members of council that they were approving Spencer’s comments about the ESR/EIS report – not the actual planning application.
No date has been set when council will hear the formal application for a wind energy project.