YARMOUTH — Argyle MLA Chris d’Entremont says a proposed Yarmouth County wind farm is the latest example of the NDP government rushing full steam ahead without proper public consultation.
D’Entremont met Tuesday with Energy Minister Charlie Parker and Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau, bringing them concerns of his constituents.
“I thought they were relatively good meetings,” d’Entremont said Wednesday.
“Residents of Comeaus Hill and Little River Harbour . . . feel like this project is being forced upon them, and it’s just not right.”
Lack of consultation is a big issue, he said.
Nova Scotia must produce 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015, as legislated in amendments to the Electricity Act, said Jackie Van Amburg, an Energy Department spokeswoman.
About two per cent of electricity will come from independent power producers, Van Amburg said in an email.
Nineteen bids for projects have been received and a smaller number will be chosen, with an announcement expected in August, she said.
Anaia Global Renewable Energies Inc. is proposing a 16-unit wind farm in an area about 2 1/2 kilometres west of the village of Wedgeport.
The project would generate up to 50 megawatts of power and, pending approval, construction would begin in 2013, said a project background report.
Belliveau must decide by Aug. 15 whether he will issue a conditional environmental assessment certificate for the proposed project, said d’Entremont.
The environmental assessment is a big critical factor.
“Within the environmental assessment, (the proponent also has) to demonstrate that it is welcomed or accepted by the community that it will impact,” said d’Entremont.
People have an opportunity to comment on the proposal and all public input will be considered as part of the minister’s decision, said Karen White of the provincial Environment Department.
Community members may comment online and mailed comments must be postmarked by next Thursday.
“We need to weigh the economic development with the community interest (and) the community concerns. So it’s all part of the decision,” White said Wednesday.
D’Entremont said when the government put out its request for service proposals, it did not include much by way of specific instructions or restrictions relating to turbines and nearby communities.
“They just sort of said … come back with a number of proposals for this kind of green energy,” d’Entremont said of the NDP government.
“Their targets, we’ve always said, are far too aggressive.
“And after a company spends money on researching an area and responding to government requests for proposals, what is their legal recourse if government says no thanks?
“They would probably be asking for their money back.”
D’Entremont sad the NDP have forced a costly electricity plan on Nova Scotians but have left most of the hard work to municipalities in managing growth in wind energy projects.
There is an important role for wind energy in this province, but the process for proposing locations “is causing upset and pitting neighbour against neighbour,” he said.
Setback distances are a major concern for most residents, and Health Canada is now studying physiological and other effects of wind turbine vibration and noise on people living near wind farms.
Argyle municipal council will meet in a special session Thursday evening to discuss setbacks and review recommendations from its own planning advisory committee.
Thursday’s meeting will also be streamed live from council chambers via the Internet for the first time, said Alain Muise, the municipality’s chief administrative officer.