Northland Wind reaches public comment stage

by Robin Burridge

LITTLE CURRENT—After eight years of planning and hard work, the Northland Power (NPI) McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm Renewable Energy Assessment (REA) has now been completed and accepted by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and will enter into its next phase—a 60-day public review and comment period.

“It is simply one of many phases in the project,” explained McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm project manager Rick Martin. “However, it has been a long time in the making and something we have been working on for the last eight years.”

The public review period started on November 24 and the REA final reports are available electronically at http://mcleansmoutain.northlandpower.ca or in paper form at the Northeast Town Public Library.

“We weren’t required to have a hard copy at the library, but we wanted to make it accessible for everyone,” said Mr. Martin.

When asked how he believed the public would feel about the REA, Mr. Martin commented that the opposition to the project within the community was relatively small, but like many things, the negative comments will probably outweigh the positive.

“The opposition is always looking for any little opportunity to create twists,” said Mr. Martin. “They send emails, speak out at council, throwing seeds of doubt. It’s important for the public, regardless of opinion, to take the time to view the information and comment.”

Mr. Martin said he hopes those who read the final reports will finally see all the careful work that NPI has done to ensure the environmental, ecological, aquatic and sociological integrity of the project.

“The few opposed throw around opinion as facts,” said Mr. Martin. “We have strived throughout the project to inform the public of the facts and have an open door policy to anyone with questions or concerns.”

As NPI waits on the public review session and preceding decision from the MOE, it has begun preliminary testing at both Goat Island and along the Manitoulin shore. Many people who saw the core sampling taking place over the last two weeks on Goat Island speculated that it was related to the area known as the ‘hazardous waste site’—the tarped off area left over from the redirection of Highway 6—however, it was simply NPI gathering rock and water samples for the study. Mr. Martin told The Expositor that the best option for the McLean’s Mountain project will probably be to run a submarine cable under the channel, in order to protect Manitoulin wetlands and not disturb natural ecosystems.

The REA will be available online and at the Northeast Town Public Library until January 23. REA comments are to be submitted the senior project evaluator with the MOE, Kristina Rudzki, at the Environmental Approvals Branch, 2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12A, Toronto, Ontario M4L 1L5, or on the ministry website at www.ebr.gov.on.ca, project reference number, 011-5195.