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Any hope Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. might have had for an early start to the Melancthon II wind farm project appears to have been effectively dashed by a decision of the Ontario Municipal Board.
OMB member Norman Jackson has generally decided conditionally in favour of the Melancthon II wind turbines planned for Amaranth Township, but has withheld his order pending a resolution of noise complaints at the transformer substation, among other things, and wants a continuation of the hearing to resolve the specific issues.
Beyond noise from the transformers, Mr. Jackson wants a continuation of the hearing at some point prior to issuing his order. The outstanding issues to be dealt with at that time include construction drawings, de-icing measures, a decommissioning agreement and an amenities agreement.
Neither the guardedly favourable decision nor the withholding was entirely unexpected. During the hearing, Mr. Jackson had cited the Provincial Policy Statement on wind energy as something of a higher authority than his. At the conclusion of the hearing on Oct. 18, there was an understanding that the order would be withheld. The township had agreed in principle to the turbines at the outset of the hearing.
Also during the hearing, Mr. Jackson had indicated his dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Environment’s issuance of a Certificate of Approval for the first of two transformers at the substation in the face of noise complaints from several neighbours.
The transformer noise appears in Mr. Jackson’s conclusions as the gravest of concerns. He indicates that he is doubtful that the noise can be overcome:
“The Board is not satisfied with the increased level of noise site planning through berms nd noise walls and other mitigation measures that the result in the combined transformer site will be an improvement rather than a continuation or worsening of the present hum so graphically described by witnesses and parties in this hearing,” he says.
“This is based upon past mitigative actions and results from the first generator (transformer) that warrant continued monitoring and independence in reporting.”
He goes on to indicate that he wants the noise issue, with respect to the first one, to be completely resolved before he approves a second one.
As well, consistent with his earlier expression of dissatisfaction with Ministry of Environment regulations on noise, he said: “The Board appreciates the work of officials but when the analysis is incomplete (continued monitoring) and the approval process seems to change in midstream, it causes the Board to carefully review its jurisdiction in this case….”
The resolution of the transformer noise issue might be sufficiently complicated that it would require removing the first transformer and reinstalling it some distance below grade – a suggestion that Mr. Jackson notes as having been made late in the hearing.
Outside the noise issues, Mr. Jackson found that CHD had dealt satisfactorily with several other matters, including aerodromes. On aerodromes, he was satisfied with a 2.5- kilometre setback from each end of unregistered ones, plus 600 metres on both sides of the airstrip. Those separations are increased for a few specific ones, such as four kilometres from the ends of runways at Burbank, Kot, Briggs and Pomeroy fields.
Some of those, he found, are in excess of Transport Canada recommendations. He found the planning to be “reasonable and to represent good planning.”
The required Amenities Agreement would be an amount of money paid directly to the township, such that it needn’t be shared with the county or school boards. The decision doesn’t say it, but CHD and the township appear to have agreed to an annual payment of $4,000 per turbine (in addition to the industrial tax on the installations).
Although the order has been withheld, the township during the hearings appeared fully in agreement with site-specific OP amendments for 22 turbines.
22 November 2007