By Tina Comeau, THE VANGUARD, www.novanewsnow.com 18 September 2011
The Municipality of Yarmouth didn’t go ahead with the second reading of a draft wind energy development bylaw on Sept. 14, opting instead to allow for more time to consider and, if needed, to incorporate input it received from the public and wind energy developers.
There is no wind development project before the municipality. Rather the intention of the bylaw is to have something in place – even if only on a temporary basis – until a more permanent municipal bylaw can be drafted and/or a project comes up for consideration.
This bylaw version is being worked on by a bylaw review committee. The municipality’s planning advisory committee is also looking at a permanent wind development bylaw that would replace this one. But right now there is nothing on the books and the municipality wants to address that.
“As it stands right now there is absolutely nothing there to protect either industry or the residents,” deputy CAO Trudy LeBlanc said at council’s Sept. 14 meeting. “This particular document that you have in front of you, it’s a preliminary bylaw so that we can have something in place to protect all interests.”
The municipality has received correspondence on the draft bylaw, which includes input from wind energy developers.
One company, Watts Wind Energy Inc. of Dartmouth, refers to a portion of the bylaw that says a large-scale wind turbine shall be set back no less than four times the total turbine height from the property line.
“The principles of Watts have been involved in over 300MW of wind turbine installations in Canada and around the world and we have not encountered a more restrictive property setback requirement,” writes company vice-president Paul Pynn.
The company suggests, according to what it calls industry norm, a setback no less than one times the total turbine height from a property line. It also suggests a minimum separation distance of 600 metres between a wind turbine and a habitable dwelling that is not located on the same property.
Atlantic Wind Power Corporation, meanwhile, says overall the draft bylaw appears to be very restrictive and in some cases is unnecessarily prohibitive towards wind development activities.
It also says the setback of four times the height of a turbine to a property line is far beyond what is reasonable “and will effectively prohibit most landowners from ever being able to host a turbine or wind farm, unless a developer assembles a massive spread of lands and is able to do so near a transmission power line.” It suggests a parcel of land of about 227 acres would almost be needed to host a single turbine.
Among other parts of the bylaw that it provides input on, it says a requirement to install power lines underground imposes a significant additional cost to a wind farm.
Yarmouth County resident Brian Giroux also sent correspondence to the municipality, saying he feels parts of the bylaw, like the setback requirement already referred to in this story, will block development since it would require a lot almost one kilometre in diametre.
The Town of Yarmouth has also offered input on the draft bylaw. In a presentation by town planner Arthur MacDonald during a Sept. 14 public hearing.
“From the Town of Yarmouth’s perspective it is crucial that this bylaw specify an adequate separation distance to any off-site habitable dwelling,” said MacDonald. “It is therefore requested that municipal council consider an amendment to the proposed bylaw to provide an adequate separation distance to off-site habitable dwellings, as well as implementing a minimum separation distance of at least 1,000 metres from the Town of Yarmouth’s boundary line.”