HURON EAST PUTS BRAKES ON WIND PROJECTS
Huron East Council passed a resolution on June 16, 2009, to study land use planning policies and assess the appropriateness of existing wind turbine setbacks in light of the larger setbacks proposed under the Green Energy Act (Bill 150) and enacted an Interim Control By-law. The Interim Control By-law states that no person will be permitted to erect, construct or expand a commercial Wind Energy Facility or a Wind Farm while the by-law is in force. This means that no commercial wind energy developments will be permitted on agricultural lands in Huron East while the study on wind turbine setbacks is on-going. Prior to the passage of the Interim Control By-law, wind turbines were permitted as close as 350 metres from residences, while draft regulations under the Green Energy Act propose setbacks of between 550 metres and 1500 metres depending on the size of the project and sound levels produced by the turbine.
A deputation was made before council by Kristi Ross, an environmental lawyer retained by Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT). Ms. Ross set out a number of options which could be pursued by the council, who had already indicated a desire to take the best course of action to serve their constituents. In a surprise move, the council, in a recorded vote, unanimously passed the Interim Control By-law.
The council chamber, packed with the supporters of Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT), burst into enthusiastic applause. The scene was repeated when, moments later, a second resolution was also unanimously passed calling on the McGuinty government to do an independent third party study into turbine-related health issues.
HEAT has praised the courage of the council in taking these extraordinary steps and hopes that this will serve as a template for other municipalities and citizens’ groups faced with the same problems.