Ont. eyes setbacks for renewable energy sites

As part of its proposal for a “one-window” approvals process on renewable energy projects such as wind farms and biogas/biomass power, Ontario is weighing new requirements on setbacks for such projects.

The province said in a release Tuesday that it will seek public input on its proposed approval requirements, making plans for six information meetings on the topic between June 15 and 25 in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Port Elgin, Chatham, Ottawa and Toronto.

The province’s proposals will also be posted on its Environmental Registry for comment until July 24, it said.

Among the proposed approval requirements, a wind turbine would not be allowed less than 550 metres (about a third of a mile) from the nearest dwelling. That minimum setback would increase with the number and loudness of turbines.

It’s also proposed that wind turbines be set back from roadways and property lines. The proposed regulations include “ongoing requirements” to monitor and deal with issues from low-frequency noise and vibrations.

Natural heritage features, such as significant wetlands or significant wildlife habitat, would be protected by a setback of 120 metres. Renewable energy development would only be allowed to move closer “where there is a study demonstrating the ability to mitigate negative impacts.”

“The proposed requirements will ensure we continue to uphold rigorous safety and environmental standards while providing clarity about the approvals process for renewable energy projects,” Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield said in a release Tuesday.

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