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BAPE rejects Skypower's Quebec wind farm plan

The Quebec Environmental Public Hearing Board has rejected a $350-million wind power proposal from a Toronto company that wanted to build an expansive farm in the province’s northeastern region.

The board, known by its French acronym, BAPE, gave the thumbs down to Skypower’s plans, which would include the construction of 114 windmills in four communities bordering the St Lawrence seaway, near Rivière-du-Loup.

The board, which held several hearings on the project, concluded Thursday that the turbines would ruin a picturesque view, threaten the region’s natural and wildlife heritage and threaten the agricultural economy.

A final decision on the project will be made by the Quebec government, explained Danielle Hawey, a board spokeswoman.

“The project may be authorized with or without modification, but it’s the cabinet of ministers who will make a decision on it,” she told CBC News.

Skypower said it was confidant that the government would go ahead with the project, which has evolved since the BAPE began holding the hearings, insisted Jean-Pierre Dion, a company spokesman.

He said the project was scaled back, from 134 mills to 114. “There’s only one near the water, and none are within proximity of residences or migratory corridors used by wildlife.”

The board’s decision was welcomed by people in the area, who have supported wind power to a degree because of its economic promise, but were concerned about visual and noise pollution.

Leaders in the area said they hope the Quebec government will take those concerns into consideration before forging ahead with the potentially lucrative project.

“They better read the board’s report carefully, and figure out how they can protect the land and heritage,” said Michel Lagacé, the prefect of the Rivière-du-Loup regional council.

The regional body has already passed legislation that bans windmills from the St. Lawrence shore.