MoD under fire over windfarms

 Editor:   Both the Ministry of Defense in Britain and the Department of Defense in the United States play pivotal roles in the appropriate siting of wind farms.  In these countries, wind energy companies must consult with the military early in the planning process to ensure that the project does not interfere with civilian or air defense radar.  Many wind energy proposals are turned down as they could negatively affect national security.  This begs the question – Where is Canada’s Department of National Defense with regards to wind energy projects affecting air defense radar?  Sadly, it appears to be MIA.  It is not mandatory for even large wind energy projects to consult with the DND during the planning process.  They have put up a website at: which explains that the effects of wind turbines on civilian and air defense radar and recommends that proponents contact the DND during the planning process.  Does the DND have the authority to stop an inappropriately-sited wind farm?  Given the costly improvements in Canada’s air defense radar now underway, one would think the DND would be more proactive on this issue. 
    The root of the problem seems to be in the environmental screening process for wind energy proposals.  These are handled by the provincial Ministry of the Environment, which is supposed to involve federal agencies if certain aspects of the project affect federal jusrisdiction.  The last time that I checked, the Department of National Defense was not one of the agencies on the notification list.  It is essential for the Federal government to become more involved in these projects.
      Unfortunately, comprehensive policy directives on the effects of wind energy projects on civilian air traffic and safety, are also lacking.  Airport operations, air traffic control and safety are the responsiblility of Transport Canada and NAV Canada.  Most people would assume that if a wind energy project is proposed in an area that would compromise the use and/or the safety of a nearby airport, that Transport Canada would stop the project.  In that assumption, most people would be wrong.  As it turns out. if the local planning authorities unwittingly grant approval for a wind project that would affect the navigational aids on one of the runways at the municipal airport, Transport Canada and NAV Canada have NO AUTHORITY to stop any proposal (including wind energy) that could negatively affect an airport or air safety.  They exercise their authority by applying sanctions to the airport (ie. limit access to a runway) to ensure that the project does not pose a danger to air traffic and the public.
    Increasingly, matters regarding the positioning of wind farms to airports and airstrips are being made by the Ontario Municipal Board Chairs and lawyers for the proponents and the appellants, rather than by the Civil Aviation Safety Specialists at Transport Canada.  I find this unacceptable.  If the Federal Government is going to facilitate the installation of wind energy in this country, then the appropriate federal agencies reponsible for national security,  civilian and air defense radar and aviation safety MUST play an integral (and mandatory) role in the assessments of wind energy projects.
 January 20, 2008 in Lowestoft Journal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s