UPPER NAPPAN – County council has passed amendments to its wind bylaw that will see its minimum setbacks between turbines and residences extended by 100 metres, while it is also looking at setting up zones for wind farms within the county.
Although county staff had proposed keeping the setback in the bylaw at 500 metres, council agreed to extend that to 600 metres after hearing several written and verbal presentations from residents, most from the Gulf Shore area, pleading with council to establish setbacks of up to 1,000-2,000 metres.
Gerald Hoganson, a resident of Gulf Shore Road, said he visited wind farms in Pubnico and in Prince Edward Island to get a firsthand account of the noise generated by the turbines. At one home that was estimated to be slightly more than 1,000 metres away, there was “not a great deal of noise,” while at another home less than 1,000 metres away, the sound of the windmills was “about as loud as a washing machine,” he said.
“Our judgment was that 1,000 metres is barely enough and certainly should be a minimum, and that 500 metres and 400 metres ( for setbacks) is preposterous,” said Hoganson.
Deputy warden Gerald Read said he would not support increasing the setback to 1,000 metres because it would jeopardize other wind farm projects already being developed n the county. One wind developer, Austen Hughes, told council that a 1,000 metre setback would effectively terminate his project in the Amherst marsh area.
“There are other projects identified already being planned that would also be less than 1,000 metres,” said Read. “If we went with 1,000 metres at this point in time, it would ruin those projects totally.”
Councillor John Reid said the county should not agree with the provincial government’s laws that keep wind farms from being established in protected wildlife areas. In fact, he said council should be encouraging the province to subsidize the installation of power transmission lines in these areas to make it easier for the establishment of wind farms.
“From Shulie down to Apple River you have 20 miles of cleared land where they say we’re not allowed to put a windmill in,” said Reid. “That’s 20 miles where we have to protect the bullfrogs and the coyotes, but what are we more interested in protecting?”
Windmills should be located in areas where they are not affecting people, and the county has those areas, according to Reid.