Time for Transport Canada to act on wind farm safety

Small plane lands at Chatham-Kent airport
Small plane lands at Chatham-Kent airport

We understand that Transport Canada has recognized the seriousness of the situation in Ontario as regards aviation safety and wind turbines being built around airports. A committee has been struck and is now looking at recommendations and phasing in action.

Not a minute too soon.

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) has been sounding alarm bells on this issue since 2009. Last year, CEO Kevin Psutka was engaged in correspondence with power developer wpd Canada over safety concerns at the Collingwood airport (See correspondence string here) and at one point accused the developer of “hiding” behind a consultant’s report on aviation safety that was actually prepared on the basis of very limited parameters.

In a note written in 2013, Mr Psutka states, “At least there has finally been an acknowledgement of the gap in the regulations. Transport Canada does not have to act on the recommendation but we can use this statement to further highlight to the provincial government that a ‘no objection’ statement from Transport Canada does not mean ‘no impact on aviation’. There should be a buffer zone around aerodromes and COPA made a recommendation during the development of the Green Energy Act to ensure that as part of every proposed project a thorough investigation is performed with a goal to minimize the impact on aviation. The gap in federal regulations, acknowledged by the Transportation Committee, indicates that until such time as Transport Canada makes the appropriate regulatory changes to protect aviation, the province has an important role to play in ensuring that the air transportation system, including smaller airports and aerodromes, is not adversely affected by windfarms.

“This is a safety and social issue that to date has not been given appropriate attention by the federal or provincial governments,” Mr Psutka concluded in his March, 2013 email.

This is another issue, like putting turbines where they will kill migrating birds, or bats which are so important to agriculture, or putting turbines next to homes and schools, that one would think would be governed by common sense, if not loftier ideas like the Precautionary Principle.

But it isn’t, not in Ontario, where you have government officials actually saying that the “overall benefit” of wind power generation trumps every other concern. Health, safety, even the environment–wind power beats all.

If the Ontario government won’t protect the people of Ontario, it is high time someone else in government did.

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