Monday, February 28, 2011

Province Bypassing Public Consultation Requirement ?

Grey Highlands seeks proper consultation on wind projects


Updated 38 minutes ago

Grey Highlands wants any further wind energy projects to be suspended until the provincial government meets its obligation under the Green Energy Act to consult with the community. In a motion passed last week, council called on the province to show how it plans to do that.

The move by council came following the discovery that to date there are at least five wind energy projects in Grey Highlands with more than 40 turbines in various stages of development and approval.

Only one has engaged in municipal consultation. All have had open house meetings early on in their planning process but none have conducted community consultation.

According to Coun. Stewart Halliday a sixth project for five turbines is proposed for the Markdale area.

"The government recognizes that you need community approval but there's no mechanism to do it. They talk about community input but we haven't had any process," said Halliday during the council meeting.

Under the Green Energy Act local planning approval has been removed and is given to the provincial government .

Section 2 of the Green Energy Act and Green Economy, passed in 2009 states, "this act shall be administered in a manner that promotes community consultation."

Coun. Lynn Silverton said the basic message underlying the Green Energy Act is one that treats municipalities with contempt and arrogance.

Council's action last week was prompted by a request for comm e nt on two projects in the McIntyre, Singhampton and Badjeros area known as Grey Highlands Zero Energy People and Skyway 126 Wind Energy which are owned by Energy Farming Ontario.

The request for comment and information is being communicated through a questionnaire that was sent to Grey Highlands by a consultant hired by the wind energy developer.

Halliday said the questionnaire and the request for information is the first time that council has heard of the two projects and to his knowledge there has been no public consultation on these projects. "This company wants us to fill out a form. Is that community input. I don't think so. They are being cavalier. That's what I mean by this arrogant attitude that they are taking," Halliday said.

"The government says they've got this consultation process we want them to clarify it and stop things until we get clarification," he added.

Other projects that are in the process of development include Grey Highlands Wind Park which is owned by Wind Works Power Corporation, Plateau Wind Farm projects in the Maxwell/Feversham area owned by International Power Canada, Flesherton Wind Farm located east of Lake Eugenia which is owned by Wind Rush Energy and Grey Highlands Clean Energy which is owned by Energy Farming Ontario.