Public hearing scheduled for Wheatland Wind project

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Wheatland County council has set a public hearing date for a proposed redesignation of some 471 acres from Agriculture General to Energy District for a new wind project following a presentation during the regular Tuesday, July 6 council meeting.

The project, which will be located approximately 20 to 30 kilometres southeast of Drumheller, will require portions of a total of 19 quarter sections to be redesignated.

According to the presentation, the project received approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in September 2018 and has already undergone assessments for environmental and noise impacts, which have all been found within allowable parameters.

A total of 24 wind turbines are expected to be installed, as well as a substation, and operations and maintenance facilities.

First reading to redesignate portions of the 19 quarter sections was moved by Division 7 Councillor Ben Armstrong and carried unanimously.

Division 6 Councillor Glenn Koester moved to schedule the public hearing for Tuesday, August 24; this was carried unanimously.

While Wheatland County will hold a public hearing regarding the redesignation, they will also hold a separate public hearing two weeks later to repeal the Energy District designation from their existing Land Use Bylaw according to a request for decision.

Administrative staff began the process to remove the Energy District following the Tuesday, April 20 regular council meeting due to inconsistencies which have caused confusion for landowners.

The current designation also does not allow for agricultural use within the Energy District, although these uses would otherwise be compatible with wind and solar projects.

The proposed repeal would also give the county the opportunity to play a more active role in wind and solar project decisions.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail

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