1. Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to clarify the setback prohibitions under the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) Regulation (O. Reg. 359/09) as they apply to locating wind turbines near noise receptors, property lines, and road or railway right of ways. Setbacks are specified minimum horizontal separation distances between the centre of the base of a turbine and a noise receptor, property line, or road or railway right of way of interest. O. Reg. 359/09 specifies additional setback requirements for renewable energy projects related to natural features and water bodies and these are discussed in Chapter 1.

While O. Reg. 359/09 provides the specific requirements with regard to setback prohibitions, such as their applicability and minimum distances, there are situations where the application of one setback (for example, the property line setback) could have the effect of increasing a different setback (for example, the road or railway right of ways setback), resulting in a turbine having to be situated at a greater distance.

1.1. Measuring Setback Distances

All setback distances refer to a length between two defined points, for instance the centre of a building (for a noise receptor) and the centre of the base of a turbine. In some circumstances the two defined points may not be at the same level with respect to elevation from the ground. An example would be a turbine on a hill where the noise receptor is at a lower elevation. For the purpose of complying with the setback requirements of O. Reg. 359/09, in all cases setback distances should be measured as horizontal distances at ground level. While Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates are used and presented to measure setback distances when preparing REA reports, the locations of noise receptors and turbines should be described in a way that is most readily understood, such as municipal addresses, to assist the evaluation of horizontal distances. Legal descriptions and/or property identification numbers can also be used if municipal addresses are not available.

2. Noise-Based Setbacks

Setbacks for noise have been established in regulation for all land-based wind facilities generating 50kW and using one or more turbines with a sound power level 102 dBA or the greatest height of any wind turbine that forms part of the facility, excluding the length of any blades, is 70 m (subsection 54 (1) of O. Reg. 359/09). Facilities that use turbines with sound power levels less than 102 dBA, with the height of the turbine(s) < 70 m (excluding length of any blades), are not subject to minimum noise setbacks, though they may still require an REA and may be subject to the property line and road or railway setbacks. Greater detail on the information required for describing negative environmental effects that will or are likely to occur from noise for small wind projects (Class 2 and 3) is given in section 5.5 of Chapter 4 which provides guidance on preparing the Project Description Report (PDR).

2.1. Minimum Setbacks

All wind turbines that meet the criteria of subsection 54 (1) of O. Reg. 359/09 as described above, must be located at least 550 meters (m) from the nearest noise receptor. The only exception to this is if a turbine is located near a noise receptor where the ambient noise from road traffic is consistently greater than 40 dBA. This exception is discussed in section 2.4 of this guide.

The minimum setback of 550 m was developed by modeling propagation of turbine noise towards a receptor. Wind conditions, and other factors affecting sound propagation were selected to represent a worst-case scenario to give a conservative estimate of setbacks. Further detail on the rationale and modeling methodology used to arrive at noise setbacks is provided in the 2009 Ministry of Environment and Climate Change(MOECC) publication “Development of Noise Setbacks for Wind Farms” (Publication #7263e).

2.2. Definition of Noise Receptors

Noise receptors are defined in O. Reg. 359/09 as “the centre of a building or structure that contains one or more dwellings” or “buildings used for an institutional purpose including an educational facility, child care centre, health care facility, community centre or place of worship”. A dwelling is further defined in O. Reg. 359/09 to mean “one or more habitable rooms used or capable of being used as a permanent or seasonal residence by one or more persons and usually containing cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities”. Examples of buildings that the MOECC would consider dwellings include residences, hotels/motels, and nursing/retirement homes. Public or privately owned campsites or campgrounds that provide overnight accommodation are also included in the definition of noise receptors.

In addition to existing buildings, those that are planned for construction and have been issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 or received site plan approval under the Planning Act, are also considered to be noise receptors. Section 2.5 below provides details around the timing considerations for including noise receptors, including noise receptors resulting from the issuance of building permits.

Since there are a range of uses of buildings that may or may not be interpreted to fit the definition of a dwelling, further guidance on this interpretation is provided in the following paragraphs.

The goal of the 550 m minimum setback between turbines and noise receptors is to limit noise at buildings where permanent or seasonal residency is possible and likely to occur. Rudimentary buildings or structures built to allow temporary or intermittent uses such as short term use for hunting are not considered dwellings. The criteria that assist in making this determination include:

  • Presence of equipment for supplying potable water through connection to a drinking water supply system (i.e. municipal supply) or the establishment of a functioning well or surface water intake/treatment for human consumption;
  • Presence of equipment used to manage sanitary sewage such as a connection to municipal sewer or septic system;
  • Connection to the electrical grid or the presence of equipment for lighting and heating capable of providing for long term overnight accommodation; and
  • Pattern of use (frequency and duration of habitation).

It is important to note that the criteria above does not automatically rule out the consideration of rural dwellings or cottages that are not serviced by municipal infrastructure such as water and sewage or even those not connected to the electricity grid as noise receptors.

All noise receptors should be identified by the proponent through reasonable inquiry prior to conducting a wind turbine noise assessment, preparing a site plan as part of a Design and Operations Report or providing notice of the issuance of a Draft Site Plan (note: more detail on Draft Site Plans and timing implications for wind projects is provided in section 2.5). If there is doubt that a particular building is a noise receptor, the applicant should make reasonable inquiry into the nature of the building and its use. Information about the criteria described above should be included as part of the Design and Operations Report and Noise Assessment. This information should justify any determination that the building is not a noise receptor.

For calculation of setback distances, the centre of the building is used to locate the position of the noise receptor.

2.2.1. Participating vs. Non-Participating Noise Receptors

Setback distances do not apply to noise receptors (so-called “participating” noise receptors) on a parcel of land where any part of a renewable energy generation facility will be located once the facility is installed, constructed or expanded in accordance with the REA.

It must be emphasized that for setback distances not to apply, all or part of the renewable energy generation facility (e.g. turbine, transmission line) must be constructed on the parcel of land. Thus, this does not apply to lease options that do not result in the construction of facility components or other agreements to waive the 550 m setback distance in consideration of financial compensation or other arrangements. Further, it should be noted that a temporary structure that does not form part of the operational facility is not considered sufficient to create a participating noise receptor.

Further to this, while noise receptors on such land do not trigger the minimum setback distances in O. Reg. 359/09, both land owners and wind energy developers should consider potential noise impacts when entering into agreements to site turbines. The MOECC has based the regulatory approach to noise on a 40 dBA outdoor night time noise limit. This limit should be considered when discussing turbine placement on land where participating noise receptors exist.

Land owners and developers are responsible for negotiating the terms of agreements, which can include specified setback distances from residences or property lines, and all parties should do their own due diligence regarding the content of such agreements.

Figure 7 is a conceptual diagram demonstrating the applicability of noise setbacks, as well as setbacks relating to property lines and roadways as discussed in subsequent chapters.

Diagram of various setback requirments for wind turbines in Class 4 facilities

Conceptual diagram demonstrating the applicability of noise setbacks, as well as setbacks relating to property lines and roadways as discussed in subsequent chapters.

2.2.2. Vacant Lots

REA setbacks also protect future use of vacant land where that land is zoned to allow construction of potential noise receptors (e.g. a future residence). For the purposes of defining the location of a noise receptor on vacant land the applicant must specify the position on the lot where a building would reasonably be expected to be located, having regard to the existing zoning by-laws and the typical building pattern of lots in the area. This approach is generally consistent with the MOECC's “Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms” (October 2008, Publication #4709e).

Where a future noise receptor is expected to be institutional in nature (e.g. a hospital or a school), the presumed locations of vacant lot noise receptors should be discussed with the MOECC's Environmental Approvals Access and Service Integration Branch at an early stage of project planning.

The determination of the location of the noise receptor on the vacant lot for the purposes of O. Reg. 359/09 should be disclosed to the public as part of the draft Design and Operations Report that is made available to the public at least 60 days prior to the final public meeting.

In keeping with the intent to protect future use of land for the construction of a noise receptor, some parcels of vacant land may be located such that they are inaccessible and thus not likely to permit a noise receptor to be located there. Applicants do not need to define a noise receptor location on land that is inaccessible. Under O. Reg. 359/09, an inaccessible vacant lot is defined as a vacant lot on private land that cannot be accessed by the owner now or in the future through the use of a road by a motor vehicle (as that is defined in the Highway Traffic Act) or that cannot be accessed by a watercraft.

Criteria that indicate inaccessibility of land include:

  • No roads, suitable for the passage of a motor vehicle, are adjacent to any property line of the lot;
  • The lot does not border or contain access to a navigable waterway; and/or
  • The land owner does not hold any legal rights (through an easement for example) to access the lot through a road suitable for the passage of a motor vehicle.

2.2.3. Noise Receptors on Crown Land

In general, noise receptors shall be considered similarly whether they occur as permitted uses on Crown land or are located on privately owned land.

REA Site Plan Approval and Building Permit Request Form

To encourage timely sharing of site plan approval or building permit information, municipalities will have 60 days to disclose this approval or permit information upon receipt of a proponent’s written request, in order for an approved but not as of yet constructed building or structure to be considered a noise receptor.

The proponent must make a written request for site plan approval or building permit information to the Clerk of the municipality through registered mail using a form and format approved by the Director. The Site Plan Approval and Building Permit Request Form is available online. So that the 60 day period starts at the same time for projects, the request to the municipality or municipalities must be made in respect of all of the locations in question on the same day.

Following the 60 day time period, a proponent must either commence the REA process by publishing a Draft Site Plan or submitting an application for approval within an additional 60 days. This is intended to prevent a time gap between when the site plan approval / building permit information is requested from the municipality, and when the proponent commences the REA process. Regardless of the 60 day time period, if a building permit is brought to the attention of the proponent by a landowner or a municipality before issuing a Draft Site Plan or submitting an application to the ministry, it must be considered by the proponent.

2.3 Multiple/Louder Turbines

Depending on the project specifics, a noise receptor may face combined impacts from the siting of multiple specified turbines (those specified according to the criteria of subsection 54 (1) of O. Reg. 359/09). Increased setback distances have been calculated to reflect this combined impact based on the number of turbines within a 3 km radius of a noise receptor. Greater numbers of turbines within the 3 km radius result in greater required setback distances from the nearest turbine.

For the purpose of calculating the number of turbines within the 3 km radius, applicants must consider existing and proposed turbines with a sound power level greater than or equal to 102 dBA. This includes:

  • Turbines proposed by the applicant as part of the wind facility.
  • Existing turbines from other wind facilities that fall within 3 km of the noise receptor.
  • Turbines proposed to be constructed in other wind facilities which have either been approved with an REA, Certificate of Approval, or Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) issued by the MOECC.
  • Turbines that are being planned to be constructed that meet the following conditions:
    • Turbines in other wind facilities where a notice of proposal for an REA has been posted to the Environmental Registry;
    • Turbines that are described in an Environmental Screening Report or an Environmental Review Report made available under the Environmental Screening Process pursuant to O. Reg. 116/01 under the Environmental Assessment Act;
    • Turbines that are described in a Draft Site Plan issued in accordance with section 54.1 of O. Reg. 359/09. (See section 2.5 for more detail on the issuance of a Draft Site Plan); and/or
    • Turbines that were identified before January 1, 2011 in information made available to the public by publishing the locations of the wind turbines in a newspaper or on a person’s website, if the person has a website, or by disclosing the locations at a public meeting required to be held under section 16 of O. Reg. 359/09.

If other projects are being proposed in proximity to an applicant’s proposed project location, consultation with all neighbouring developers is strongly recommended. Working together to manage potential turbine layout changes may be advantageous for all parties in meeting the setback requirements at the time of application.

Setbacks have also been adjusted to account for differences in the sound power level emitted from various turbine models available on the market. Sound power level is a specification of turbine design determined by the manufacturer through calculation in accordance with standard CAN/CSA-C61400-11-07, “Wind Turbine Generator Systems – Part 11: Acoustic Noise Measurement Technique”. Specifications for sound power level used for determining setbacks correspond to the sound emitted while operating at 95% of the name plate capacity rounded to the nearest whole number. If different turbine types are used in a wind energy facility the sound power level of the loudest turbine is used for determining noise setback distances applied to the project as a whole.

The range of setbacks for wind facilities with one or more specified turbines is given in section 55 of O. Reg. 359/09 and summarized in Table 1:

Table 1: Setback distances for multiple turbines and various turbine sound power levels
Sound power level1 to 5 turbines within 3km6 to 10 turbines within 3km11 to 25 turbines within 3km26+ turbines within 3km
102 dBA550 m650 m750 mNoise study required
103-104 dBA600 m700 m850 mNoise study required
105 dBA850 m1000 m1250 mNoise study required
106-107 dBA950 m1200 m1500 mNoise study required
 Noise study requiredNoise study requiredNoise study requiredNoise study required

Table 1 illustrates the closest distance the centre of the base of any turbine can be to a noise receptor. While the minimum setback of 550 m must be met in all cases, proponents are given the option of conducting a noise study to prove that siting turbines closer than the setbacks in Table 1 will not cause adverse effects. Such a study must be prepared in accordance with the MOECC's 2008 “Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms”. A Noise Assessment Report demonstrating that reduced setbacks comply with these guidelines must be submitted as part of the REA application.

As indicated in subsection 54 (4) of O. Reg. 359/09, Noise Assessment Reports prepared in accordance with the ministry’s “Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms” are also required under any of the following circumstances:

  • If a wind energy facility is comprised of 26 or more turbines and any of which have:
    1. a sound power level greater or equal to 102 dBA, or
    2. a height, excluding the length of any blades, equal to or greater than 70 m;
  • If the project would result in 26 or more specified turbines located within a 3 km radius of a noise receptor; or
  • If any of the turbines in a wind energy facility have a sound power level greater than 107 dBA.

2.4. Exception when Ambient Noise is > 40 dBA due to Road Traffic

Road traffic can cause ambient sound levels at noise receptors to be greater than the minimum levels used as a basis for the noise setbacks. If traffic noise causes the lowest hourly ambient sound level at a receptor to exceed 40 dBA, a reduced setback may be used.

As per subsection 54 (2) of O. Reg. 359/09, to rely on this exception in respect of a particular noise receptor, applicants must measure or calculate hourly ambient sound levels at the receptor when wind speeds are less than 4 m/s. This analysis must be performed in accordance with the MOECC's publication “Sound Levels due to Road Traffic” CNPC-206 (1995, Publication #3407e). If the measurements or calculations of the analysis establish that the ambient noise from road traffic is greater than 40 dBA, this hourly ambient sound level produced by road traffic becomes the new limiting value. Consequently, the applicant may determine an appropriate reduced setback distance. This is done by conducting a noise study and submitting a report in accordance with the MOECC's 2008 publication “Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms”. The report must demonstrate that the wind turbine location will not result in noise greater than the lowest hourly ambient sound level at the receptor.

Both the analysis of ambient noise from road traffic and the noise study report in accordance with the 2008 “Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms” must be submitted as part of an application for an REA.

2.5. Issuance of a Draft Site Plan and Draft Noise Assessment to Clarify Noise Receptor and Turbine Locations

In order for an applicant to propose a turbine layout that demonstrates compliance with the setback requirements of sections 35, 54 and 55 of O. Reg. 359/09, the locations of noise receptors and existing or proposed turbines from other wind projects must be known. However, the presence and location of both noise receptors and other proposed turbines can change over time. For instance, a landowner may obtain a building permit to construct a residence on a previously vacant lot. Similarly, a neighbouring wind facility proposal may be announced with turbines sufficiently close to influence the combined analysis of noise on a particular receptor. In light of this potential for change, both the public and REA applicants need clarity about the time in which the noise landscape will be fixed so that an application can be reviewed appropriately. This timing must balance the need for applicants to have certainty for finalizing REA documents with the need for the application to reflect the normal changes to the landscape that evolve over time through development.

Note for projects commenced under O. Reg. 116.01

If the project planning was commenced as part of the Electricity Screening Process under O. Reg. 116/01 under the Environmental Assessment Act, only the noise receptors that existed at the time the applicant issued a Notice of Completion must be considered under O. Reg. 359/09.

To provide this clarity, O. Reg. 359/09 specifies that applicants proposing wind projects may issue Draft Site Plan(s) in advance of submitting a complete REA application. Applicants are also required to make available a draft of their Noise Assessment Report along with the Draft Site Plan. Applicants are permitted to issue multiple Draft Site Plans in response to issues that are raised during consultation or additional studies. Applicants are required to provide a Draft Noise Assessment each time they issue a Draft Site Plan, unless they have chosen to use the setback matrix provided in section 55 of O. Reg. 359/09. The issuance of a Draft Site Plan and Draft Noise Assessment Report is governed by a number of requirements pertaining to the content and method of notification/provision to the public, as defined in the sections that follow. However, if all the requirements are met and a public notice is made regarding the issuance of a Draft Site Plan, the noise receptor landscape will be considered fixed on the day prior to publishing or posting the notice.

As described in section 2.3 above, the issuance of a Draft Site Plan will also indicate the locations of turbines which must be considered in the analysis of combined noise (e.g. through the setback matrix in section 55 of O. Reg. 359/09 or noise study) from multiple turbines in other nearby projects. If an applicant chooses to reissue a Draft Site Plan to change the location of turbines, they are responsible for assessing the combined noise effects of making this change with regard to nearby projects.

If no Draft Site Plan is issued for an application subject to an REA, noise receptors will be considered fixed as of the time of submitting an application.

2.5.1. Rights to Private Land Must be Secured

In order to publish a notice of a Draft Site Plan, the applicant must hold sufficient property rights/access in respect of the privately owned land to permit the construction of the proposed turbines. This can include land ownership, leases, or other legal agreements that provide the applicant rights to construct or install the proposed turbines identified on the site plans.

2.5.2. Draft Site Plan Content

As described in section 54.1 of O. Reg. 359/09, general Draft Site Plan description must be supported with clear maps of the site and surrounding area, complete with scale, northing, and legend information. A suitable minimum drawing scale for the overall plan of the project is 1 cm: 500 m. The following details must be included:

  • Wind turbines and transformer substations required in respect of the renewable energy project,
  • Any noise receptors that may be negatively affected by the use or operation of the renewable energy project, and
  • Existing roads within 300 m of the renewable energy project.

In addition to the maps or diagrams, a description of each item above identified in the diagram is required to be given.

To clearly convey all of the required content and to ensure other nearby projects are aware of the position of the proposed turbines when assessing combined noise, the following is recommended:

  • Locations of all turbines should be mapped and provided in a table that indicates the UTM coordinates of turbines.
  • Turbines from existing or proposed facilities should also be included.
  • Noise receptors within an appropriate distance (the ministry recommends plotting all within 2 km of the project location) should be mapped and provided in a table that indicates the municipal addresses, legal descriptions and/or property identification nubers of noise receptors.

2.5.3. Content and Dissemination Requirements for the Public Notice of a Draft Site Plan

To issue a Draft Site Plan, an applicant must publish a public notice to inform the local public, Aboriginal communities and interested stakeholders. A Notice of Draft Site Plan template can be found in Appendix 3. The notice must contain the following required content:

  • The name of the person proposing to engage in the renewable energy project;
  • A brief description of the renewable energy project;
  • A map identifying the project location;
  • If the project location is situated in a local municipality, the date the notice of the Draft Site Plan was first published (for instance, date first published in a newspaper);
  • The locations in each local municipality and/or in each unorganized territory where members of the public can inspect paper copies of the Draft Site Plan; and
  • A description of the legal effect of the publishing of the Draft Site Plan. This should include the legal effect with respect to the consideration of noise receptors and turbines proposed in other projects.

If proponents wish to publish a separate larger map detailing all the noise receptors and wind turbines, they may do so provided that a small map of the project location is embedded in the notice itself. Both the notice with the embedded project location map and the separate larger map must be published together in the newspaper and made available online.

The notice of the issuance of a Draft Site Plan must be published in a number of locations and provided to a number of organizations/people as described below:

Publication
  • If the project location is situated in a local municipality, the notice must be published in a newspaper with general circulation in the local municipality.
    • If the project is located in more than one local municipality the notice should be posted in a newspaper or newspapers with circulation in each local municipality.
  • If the project location is in unorganized territory, the notice must be published in a newspaper with general circulation within 25 kilometres (km) of the project location.
    • If no newspaper exists, the notice must be posted in at least six conspicuous locations within 25 km of the project location.
  • If it is reasonable to do so, the notice must be published in a newspaper printed by each Aboriginal community on the Aboriginal Consultation List or if the list has not been received, each Aboriginal community with reserve land within or abutting the project location.
    • The publication in a newspaper in an Aboriginal community requires the publisher of the newspaper to agree to the notice’s publication.
  • If the applicant has a website, the notice must be posted on the applicant’s website.
Notice Provided To
  • Notices must also be provided to:
    • Every assessed owner of land within 550 m of the project location;
    • Every assessed owner of land abutting land on which the project is located (if not already caught by the 550 m requirement above);
    • Every Aboriginal community on the applicant’s Aboriginal Consultation List or if the List has not been received, each Aboriginal community with reserve land within or abutting the project location;
    • The clerk of every local and upper-tier municipality in which the project is located;
    • The secretary-treasurer of each local roads board of a local roads area in which the project location is situated;
    • The secretary of each local services board of a board area in which the project location is situated;
    • The secretary-treasurer of a planning board that has jurisdiction in an area in which the project location is situated;
    • The chair of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, if the project location is in the area of the Niagara Escarpment Plan;
    • The MOECC's Director as well as the ministry’s district manager in each district in which the project location is situated;
    • The secretary of every company operating an oil or natural gas pipeline if the pipeline right of way is within 200 metres of the project location;
    • The land use office of NAV Canada; and
    • Transport Canada’s Regional Office for Ontario.

2.5.4. Dissemination of the Draft Site Plan and Draft Noise Assessment Report

The Draft Site Plan and Draft Noise Assessment Report must be made available within 5 days of publishing or posting the notice described above. The locations where the Draft Site Plan and Draft Noise Assessment Report must be made available are:

  • On the applicant’s website, if one exists.
  • In paper copy at a public location within each local municipality or part of unorganized territory, as applicable.
  • In each Aboriginal community on the applicant’s Aboriginal Consultation List or if the list has not been received, each Aboriginal community with reserve land within or abutting the project location.
    • The Aboriginal community must agree to the applicant making this available in the community.
  • To the MOECC's Director.

2.5.5. Limitations on the use of Draft Site Plans

Applicants are required to submit their application for an REA within 18 months of publishing or posting their first Draft Site Plan. Applicants are permitted to issue multiple Draft Site Plans within the 18 month period in response to issues that are raised during consultation or additional studies (i.e. cultural or natural heritage assessment or public concerns raised). Once an applicant submits an REA application to MOECC, no additional Draft Site Plans can be issued.

Applicants do not have to consider new noise receptors for the purposes of the setback prohibitions after the initial notice of the Draft Site Plan was published if the application is made within the 18 month period. However, the MOECC has based the regulatory approach to noise on a 40 dBA outdoor night time noise limit. This limit should be considered when determining turbine placement with respect to new noise receptors which have moved or did not exist at the time of publication of the first Draft Site Plan.

If applicants do not submit their REA application within an 18 month period, new noise receptor locations established or moved during the time between the first Draft Site Plan and final submission must be accounted for in the REA application.

If an applicant proposes changes to their REA application to modify, add or move (a) wind turbine(s) or other equipment (i.e. transformer or sub-station), new noise receptor locations established or moved between the time the REA application was submitted and the time of the proposed change mst be accounted for. REA application materials must also be changed accordingly, as outlined in Chapter 10.

If after an REA is issued by MOECC, an applicant is amending their REA to modify, add or move the location of (a) wind turbine(s) or other equipment (i.e. transformer or sub-station), new noise receptor locations established or moved during the time between the REA approval date and REA amendment application submission date must be accounted for in the REA amendment application. In addition, cumulative noise impacts from adjacent wind facilities must also be considered.

3. Setbacks from Property Lines

To ensure safety on neighbouring properties all wind energy facilities with a name plate capacity of 50 kW or greater (Classes 3, 4, and 5 in O. Reg. 359/09) must be located a minimum setback distance from neighbouring property boundaries. This distance is equivalent to the height of the turbine which is considered as the distance from the ground to the top of the turbine hub without including the blades. As with noise setbacks, the distance is calculated from the centre of the base of the turbine to the nearest property boundary.

The property boundary setback does not apply to a boundary where the abutting property is owned by:

  • The proponent of the wind energy facility; or
  • A person who has entered into an agreement with the proponent that permits the location of a wind turbine closer than the turbine height. It is recommended that any agreements with landowners provide sufficient detail to meet this requirement.

In the absence of an agreement with a neighbouring land owner specifically permitting a closer setback, the proponent must include, as part of the REA application, a Property Line Setback Assessment Report in order to reduce the property line setback. This report must be developed to demonstrate that siting the turbine in such a location will not result in any adverse impacts on neighbouring businesses, infrastructure, or land use activities. Specifically, this assessment should evaluate the land use in the vicinity of the turbine. This includes providing UTM coordinates of each wind turbine and structure to which the Property Line Setback Assessment Report relates, as well as a table that provides setback distances. This should confirm the presence of structures (i.e. barns, storage buildings, stables). The report must also describe preventive measures that are to be implemented to address the possibility of any adverse impacts. Such an assessment must be performed separately for each turbine that is sited within the specified property line setback.

4. Setbacks from Roads and Railways

Safety setbacks from public roads and railways are also required for wind facilities 50 kW and greater (classes 3, 4, and 5 in O. Reg. 359/09). Turbines must be located a minimum distance of the blade length plus 10 m from the boundary of the right-of-way for any public road or railway. This is a requirement for which there is no exception.

5. Setbacks for Associated Transformer Substations

As described in section 35.1 of O. Reg. 359/09, transformer substations that are part of a wind facility and are capable of operating at a nominal voltage of 50 kV or more require siting considerations to avoid impacts from transformer noise. To mitigate noise impacts transformers can be set back 1000 metres from the nearest noise receptor. An alternative setback of 500 metres is permitted if the transformer is surrounded by an acoustic barrier with a density of 20kg/m2. The acoustic barrier must break the line of sight from top and sides of the transformer (including cooling radiators) to the nearest noise receptor.

As a further alternative, the proponent of a wind facility may opt to submit a noise study in accordance with the MOECC's 2008 “Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms” that covers the noise from the transformer.

For the purpose of identifying noise receptors at Class 4 wind facilities that may be impacted by noise from transformer substations, these are subject to the same noise receptor rules discussed in section 2.5 in respect of wind turbines.

6. Guidance for Demonstrating Adherence to Setbacks

To enable the MOECC to evaluate how a proposed wind energy project meets the setback requirements described in O. Reg. 359/09, information on the project location must be included in the REA application. A Design and Operations Report is required for all wind facilities with name plate capacity 50 kW and greater. This report must include information that clearly demonstrates compliance with setbacks. To do this, the following information must be provided in a description, map or diagram of the distance between the centre of the base of any wind turbine and:

  • Any public road rights of way or railway rights of way that are within a distance equivalent to the length of any blades of the wind turbine, plus 10 metres;
  • All boundaries of the parcel of land on which the wind turbine is constructed, installed or expanded within a distance equivalent to the height of the wind turbine, excluding the length of any blades; and
  • The nearest noise receptor.

On the Site Plan

  • The location of all turbines (including turbine identification number/code);
  • The location of all transformers;
  • The location of all “non-participating” noise receptors (including noise receptor identification number/code);
  • All property lines, public roads and rail right of ways;
  • Linear representation of setback distances, i.e. UTM coordinates that demonstrate the distance of all wind turbines from all property lines;
  • The location of all other project components that comprise the wind energy facility and the project location boundary;
  • The outer boundaries and classification of all natural features and water bodies.

The site plan must clearly show that turbines are located outside of the noise, property line, and road/railway setbacks. Setbacks from the boundary of the project location to natural features and water bodies should also be demonstrated. Where setbacks are not met through preparation of a noise assessment, property line setback assessment, environmental impact study, water body assessment or through an agreement with a neighbouring landowner in respect of property line setbacks, this should be referenced and the studies and/or evidence of agreements provided as part of the complete application.

In a Table or Tables

  • A list of all turbines with identification numbers/ codes;
  • The location of turbines in UTM coordinates;
  • The make and model of all turbines;
  • The identification number/code of the nearest noise receptor and the distance to the turbine; and
  • Distances from the centre of the base of the turbine to the closest noise receptor, all property lines (regardless of agreements), and road and railway right of ways for each turbine.

If adhering to the noise setback matrix for greater numbers of turbines a separate table should be included with:

  • All noise receptors with identification numbers/codes;
  • The number of turbines within a 3 km radius of each noise receptor;
  • The identification number/code of the closest turbine to the noise receptor; and
  • The distance to the nearest noise receptor.