AUC Heartland Hearing – Day 25
Dr. Ross Harris presented his concerns on May 17 about the Applicants’ preferred route interfering with his Edmonton East Heliport. The heliport, which has federal certification and is listed in Wikipedia, is situated right next to the Sherwood Park Greenbelt, and is used by Dr. Harris (opthalmologist), other doctors, Stars Ambulance and the police. The Applicants have refused to register the heliport’s flight path and to designate a safety setback distance, as they have done for other less used airports. The Applicants’ preferred route, including the most recently revised route, would sterilize the heliport. Dr. Harris asked that the Heartland line be built in the alternate route or if it was built in the preferred route, that it be buried so as not to penetrate the heliport’s obstacle limitation surface.
Rural landowners along the Applicants’ preferred route presented experts on radio interference and routing. The radio interference expert confirmed information presented earlier at the hearing that the Applicants’ 3.95 km setback from the Department of National Defence radio receiver site was far more than the DND’s required 1.6 km setback. Existing 138kV and 240kV lines less than DND’s setback distance from the radio receiver site have caused no radio interference to date, and neither would the proposed 500kV line. If the line was built closer to the DND site, fewer rural landowners would be negatively impacted.
The routing expert discussed the Applicants’ flawed public consultation process, particularly with respect to routing. Many routing segments were dropped or added without any consultation with directly affected landowners or other stakeholders. The Applicant did not properly identify the overall lowest impact route when it selected its preferred route. The routing expert discussed several other routes he had proposed which would follow existing roadways or transmission lines, or minimize the total distance of the power line through more industrial land. He suggested the Applicants did not appear to have fairly or properly weighted environmental, agricultural, proximity and other factors when selecting their preferred route.
A panel of 15 rural landowners presented their concerns with the preferred route, as well as personal accounts of how they had been treated by the Applicants and their agents. Landowners described their concerns about health impacts of overhead power line EMFs, visual impacts, electromagnetic sensitivity, noise, stress, and interference with internet access. They were not asked by Heartland staff what plans they had for their land and what impacts would the proposed power line have on those plans.
The Applicants were criticized for avoiding buyouts by jogging around homes just enough to meet their subjectively-selected 150-metre minimum distance between homes and the power line (less if the line is not built on your property). Unskilled people who were not able or willing to answer many questions were sent to interview landowners. Neighbours were pitted against neighbours by the Applicants, and landowners’ positions were often misrepresented to neighbours in an attempt to rationalize specific routing decisions.