Monday, September 30, 2013

Would TimberWest's proposed 300MW of wind power require rezoning?

TimberWest and EDP Renewables have proposed to build 300MW of wind energy on TimberWest lands near Sooke.    This a large wind power development and would be one of the largest independent power projects in BC.  Would this require rezoning of the land?

The wind turbines would be located on TimberWest forest lands near Sooke.  These lands are classified as Resources Lands within the Juan de Fuca electoral area of the CRD.   It strikes me that the 50-100 wind turbines would be something the public would expect to have an input on.   To see what would be required for the development vis a vis the zoning I thought I would look at the OCP and Zoning bylaws for the Rural Resource Lands.

In looking at the bylaws, I think these wind turbines can go in without any need for a zoning change because it is resource extraction.   Here is the definition of resource extraction:

RESOURCE EXTRACTION means the removal of resource products, such as but not limited to forest or mining products, by either physical labour or with machinery or a combination of the two.

That says to me that they have the right to develop green energy with wind turbines though the only issue is how many structures they are allowed to build on each parcel of land and how high they are allowed to be.
In the zoning bylaw the maximum height allowed for a structure is 6 meters, I do not think this is tall enough for the wind turbines, at a minimum they would need a variance on the height.

Next, with only one structure allowed per parcel, that is not enough to allow for all the wind turbines needed for a 300MW installed capacity.  I only count about 15 to 20 TimberWest land titles in the right area for the potential locations for the wind turbines.   A 300MW installed capacity wind farm needs more like 50 to 100 turbines.

It seems to me that TimberWest and EDP Renewables will have to come to the CRD and ask for zoning changes to allow for the scale of wind development they are proposing for the Sooke area.

One more note on this, the press release from the companies on this project came out at 9 am Thursday September 26th, that is more than four days ago and still there is nothing about it in the local media.

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