Ten permits for a wind project in eastern Alberta that were denied have now received approval.
The permits were for 10 out of 74 wind turbines to be located in Paintearth County, between Halkirk and Forestburg, as part of Capital Power’s Halkirk 2 Wind Project.
The re-hearing was conducted by a regional Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB), with representation from outside municipalities and took place July 16 and 17. The board’s decision to approve the permits was released July 24.
The new hearing followed a May 8 ruling from the Alberta Court of Appeal that stated the county’s SDAB erred in denying the permits and in not holding a merits hearing as part of the process.
The appeal justices added the SDAB also ruled on matters that were outside its jurisdiction, as the relevent authority — the AUC in this case — had already made their decision on the issues.
Namely, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) had already determined issues brought up by opponents which led to the SDAB denial — alleged non-compliance with county land use regulations, the towers being within environmentally sensitive areas and they fell within setbacks of aerodromes and negatively affect residents road use.
In its ruling, the regional SDAB explained towers didn’t appear to be any county designated areas, but that “the AUC was not required to comply” with any county plan or land use bylaw in any event and that they could rule on that fact anyway.
The decision also included that the AUC had already ruled on the issue of setbacks and that all of the permits were consistent with the AUC’s final approval.
“Extensive submissions and concluded the safety concerns raised could be sufficiently mitigated by the commitments made by Capital Power,” the decision stated.
One condition that was added to the permits, with no objection from Capital Power, was that the company sign a road utiltization and development agreement — including a security bond — with the county to help address those concerns.
The project was approved by the AUC in April 2018, followed two months later by county’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board decision to deny the 10 permits.
Any appeal of this latest decision must be made before Aug. 24.