On June 9, 2009, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment
released the "Proposed Content for the Renewable Energy
Approval Regulation under the Environmental Protection
Act" (the Proposal). The intent of the Proposal is to
standardize requirements applicable to developers of renewable
energy projects across the province. One such proposed requirement
would oblige developers to locate renewable energy projects at a
minimum setback distance from "receptors", such as
dwellings, to ensure that noise levels do not exceed a certain
threshold at any receptor.
Although setbacks requirements would apply to wind, solar, hydro,
biogas, and biomass projects, the standardization of setback
distances is specifically intended to target wind projects. At
present wind developers are subject to multiple setback distance
requirements as dictated by municipal governments. The Proposal
would require that wind projects are set back a minimum of 550
metres from any receptor. A higher standard would be imposed
depending on factors such as: (1) the number of turbines in the
proposed development; (2) any existing or approved turbines in the
area; and (3) the sound level rating of the turbines selected for
the development. The Proposal also provides for a minimum setback
from roads, railways, and side and rear lot lines that is equal to
the turbine hub height plus the length of the blade.
In addition to recommending minimum setback distances, the
Proposal would require noise studies to be conducted for any
project involving wind turbines with a sound power level greater
than 107 decibels, regardless of number, and for any project
involving more than 26 turbines within 1.5 kilometres of any
receptor. These studies would form part of the new provincial
approval process for renewable energy projects.
The Proposal is open for public review and comment on the
Environmental Registry until July 24, 2009.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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