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Naikun preparing to start environmental assessment

The president of Naikun Wind Development was in town for four days last week to meet with stakeholder groups to discuss the company’s proposed 1,750 Megawatt wind farm in Hecate Strait and to bring them news on the project’s progress.

“We are going to be kicking off the environmental assessment process in the next week or so and there will be a terms of reference document released once it is approved by the regulators. That will be of interest to the stakeholders and we wanted to give them a heads up that that was coming,” explained Ray Castelli, noting that local First Nations, municipal and regional officials and the Area A Crab Association were among the groups he was meeting with.

“The terms of reference document lays out the process for the reviews that are being conducted, so there is going to be ample opportunity for community members, stakeholders and other groups to comment.”

Castelli said that the company is gearing up for a busy spring and summer with the start of the environmental assessment, which includes undertaking migratory bird studies and thorough sonar studies to determine where in the 550 square-kilometre research area they will locate the wind farm.

“We may have the whole area narrowed down to three or four good spots that we would then do further studies on. Our objective is that by the time we get to July we will have chosen the one spot where the wind farm will go,” he said.

As for recent concerns raised by the Area A Crab Association regarding the impact of the project on their fishery, Castelli said that he doesn’t see it as an “either or situation.”

“We believe that you can have wind farms in Hecate Strait and still have a very active crab fishery, and you can enhance that crab fishery because of the habitat creation that goes along with the turbines,” he said, pointing to a study that showed offshore wind farms in Norway increased crab populations due to the scour of rocks placed at the base of the turbines.

Castelli also said that the company is looking to lease approximately 50 hectares of waterfront land from the Prince Rupert Port Authority to accommodate the arrival and installation of the turbines, noting that the process is expected to create between 300 and 400 person years of employment in the area.

By Shaun Thomas
The Northern View
Feb 07 2007