/County waives vegetative buffer requirement for solar project 

County waives vegetative buffer requirement for solar project 

By Chad Ingram

Published July 6 2017

Councillors agreed to waive a requirement for a 20-metre vegetative buffer for a solar project along Highway 118 near West Guilford.

The property owners are clearing approximately 2.5 hectates of forested area for the creation of a solar feed-in tariff project that will be operated by Peterborough Utilities.

A 20-metre vegetation buffer to provide visual screening had been a condition of that project however the landowners applied for relief from that condition as a buffer of that size would have made the project unfeasible for Peterborough Utilities.

“The agent outlines that the challenge with a 20-metre buffer is that it would be on the south-facing side which has the largest impact on shading of the solar facility” a staff report read. “If they are unable to remove those trees then the project would likely be rendered uneconomical in the opinion of Peterborough Utilities.”

Instead of leaving a tree buffer the company will plant a vegetative buffer in accordance with requirements under the FIT contract. Those requirements include a strip of trees or shrubs planted in a staggered pattern three metres wide; that plants be native non-invasive species with a ratio of 60 per cent coniferous and 40 per cent deciduous; and that the plants provide a minimum of 65 per cent visual coverage upon planting and 90 per cent coverage after five years.

Some councillors had concerns the planted vegetative buffer would not be sufficient but Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey said he thought the request was reasonable. Fearrey also said that a hill on the property should block the view of the panels from the roadway.