I was asked to post these minutes here. Pleased to oblige!
However, for security reasons and until I hear from those involved that it is OK to use their full names in this blog, I will change last names to initials.
That’s except for Charles, everyone knows who he is already.
April 7th , 2007
Meeting of Gulf Shore Seasonal Residents and Mr. Charles Demond, VP, Atlantic Wind Power Corporation
Meeting called to order 2:40 pm.
Dr. D made opening comments and chaired the meeting.
He noted that he had organized this meeting on the request of several Gulf Shore Seasonal Residents from Halifax Regional Municipality, who felt out of the loop as to recent developments with a wind farm proposal at the Gulf Shore. An open house is being hosted by Atlantic Wind Power in Pugwash on April 11, 2007. Some felt that this was unfair to have to travel to Pugwash to attend this meeting on a Wednesday night. Paul had contacted Vice President Charles Demond earlier this week, and asked him to come to a meeting of these HRM residents, as a representative of Atlantic Wind Power, and he agreed. Mr. Demond was available on Saturday, April 7th, the evening of Tuesday, April 10th, and on Friday April 13th (after the April 11 AWP open house. Given the choices, Paul and Joel H requested an April 7th meeting.
This was a last minute meeting, and Paul thanked Mr. Demond, and all those who have come. Almost everyone who was contacted did come, which is an indication of the interest in this project.
Paul noted the irony of cottagers who will be directly affected by climate change with increased temperatures and rising sea levels and the perceived problem of having a renewable green wind power generator at our doorsteps.
He noted that from a Gulf Shore resident’s perspective there seem to be two main issues:
The proposal by Atlantic Wind Power Corporation for our area, in particular the location of the proposed wind farm relative our seasonal properties,
By-law being developed by Cumberland County to govern all wind farm developments
These wind turbines are big pieces of machinery, and will have an impact on their neighbors.
Local examples of turbines are found at Higgin’s Mountain, Westchester, Halifax across from Exhibition Park, Brookfield, Pubnico, and Eastern Kings Wind Farm in PEI.
Notable issues include wind noise, mechanical noise, light flicker, aesthetics of visual impact.
Also consider the economic spin offs for Pugwash, both positive & negative (the seasonal economy versus an increased industrial tax base for the county).
Dr. D then introduced Charles Demond, as described below.
Dr. D proposed that those in attendance briefly state their names and where their Gulf Shore cottages are:
After the first introduction, Joel H, Mr. Demond then suggested that each person also state any concerns or questions that they had. This opened the door to a long discussion on the windmill project before Mr. Demond had a chance to give his presentation.
Joel H, Gulf Shore Road
Robert & Karen H, property owners Gulf Shore Road
Donald and Vivian H, McLean Point Road
Rev. George B, McLean Point Road
Dr. Paul, Ruth & Kevin D, McLean Point Road
Wilfred & Joyce D, McLean Point Road
Shelia A, Reid Drive
Sharon M, Reid Drive
Jean K, Dan R Drive
Chester & Catherine M, Dan R. Drive
Ken & Grace M, Murray Lane
Total in attendance 18
Some comments during the introductions:
Joel H’s main concern was excessive noise. Has been coming to the Shore since the early 70’s.
Robert & Karen H had been considering placing a mobile home on one of their lots but are now reconsidering.
Vivian H was concerned about noise
Ruth D and George B have been going to this area of the Gulf Shore since 1959.
George B was worried about setback distance, and noted in France that the distance is 1,500 meters (Joel indicated that this was likely from a French Academy of Medicine report)
Ruth was concerned about noise.
Shelia A was concerned about setback distance and noise.
Jean K has 5 children and 12 grandchildren, and is concerned about the future use of her property.
Catherine M is descended from local Scottish settlers, has been in the Gulf Shore 39 years, and was about to build an all season vacation home there, but now has put those plans on hold because of the wind farm proposal.
Chester M was concerned about the process and how we can take part in it. He felt that it was unfair that not everyone has an input into this process. He recounted that he had developed a pond on his lands for Ducks Unlimited. This turned out to be a 4 year process to receive approval, including Natural Resources checking for rare plants and animals on the site, before approval was given, then he had to sign a 25 year contract with Ducks Unlimited that he would not inhibit life around the pond. In comparison this project was going way too fast from inception to approval.
He proposed that there be another seasonal residents meeting in July to discuss this further, and any decisions by Cumberland County or Atlantic Wind Power be put off till then.
Wilfred D stated “with all the land that is free and clear, why Pugwash?” He now lives in an apartment in Dartmouth, and greatly enjoys the quiet and tranquility that he has experienced for many years at his cottage on the Gulf Shore.
Ken M stated that this shoreline is one of the jewels of Nova Scotia. He wanted to know how far the shoreline, and his cottage would be from the turbines. He has been going there since 1952, an original to this cottage country.
Grace M stated that the city is a steady hum of noise, but not the Gulf Shore.
Could the turbines be put back further?
Dr. D then asked Charles Demond to begin his program. Mr. Demond stated that he would follow an informal discussion format, open to questions. He stated that he was reluctant to give details on numerous questions because of concerns of being misquoted.
A heated discussion ensued with Chester M, which culminated with Mr. Demond expressing frustration that he wasn’t being listened to. He stated that if the meeting continued this way, then he was going to leave, as there didn’t seem to be any point in continuing. He later recognized that he shouldn’t have made this threat.
He stated that some environmental research had been done on the site by a Mount Allison botanist. He also presented plans, which he distributed only on the agreement that they be returned at the end of the meeting. The plans showed the distribution of the wind farm turbines over the area from the Irish Town Road to the west, to well past Lisa Betts house to the east. Approximately 27 turbines were marked on the plan. No other handouts were provided. He did note that he would email a PDF format copy of the plans to Dr. Downing, which he could distribute to those who attended the meeting.
Mr. Demond talked at some length about a similar project he had at Pubnico, NS. There are 17 V80 turbines installed there. He showed photos of the site on his laptop. The turbines were 400 to 500 meters apart, with connecting roads, and set-down areas for construction of the turbines. Considerable discussion ensued between Chester M and Mr. Demond about the amount of forest that would have to be cleared to complete the project. In the end, Mr. Demond estimated that approximately 4% to 6% of the forest area would be cleared for this project. He also emphasized that the windfarm was being built on private land, and that the owners of that land had the right to use it any way they saw fit. They could easily clear it at anytime for commercial or other reasons.
Mr. Demond claimed that the project is not moving quickly, instead Cumberland Council is moving quickly. Council’s decisions and not the company were dictating the timing of the meetings.
Considerable discussion ensued on Daniel d’Entremont, from Pubnico, who has been in the media repeatedly, complaining of health problems, which have come about from installation of the wind turbines in his neighborhood. Mr. Demond stated that to date, there has been no documentation received by his company that confirms or substantiates health concerns due to the wind turbines in Pubnico. He also stated that the company has not had any complains from any other local Pubnico residents about the wind farm
The issue here seems to be infrasound. This is an assertion with no evidence to support it. A social policy bylaw versus actual harm was a problem for him. He wanted to come back to the facts. He also stated that he disagreed with Lisa Betts’ characterization of events at a recent Cumberland Council meeting in her blog.
Mr. Demond stated that he did not want to be a part of anything that disturbs the noise of the community. He felt that everyone in this room would be at least 750 meters from the wind farm.
Ken M stated that this was too close to one of the last shores of Nova Scotia where you can go and enjoy yourself.
Mr. Demond stated that they voluntarily went to 500 meters. The people need to decide what is reasonable and what is not.
Mr. Demond stated several factors to consider in planning the location of a wind farm
Proximity to transmission lines
Buildability of the site
Location in the power grid
Wildlife, including birds, animals, plants, rare species
He concluded that there are lots of factors. Society needs to share its space in a sensible way. The issue is land use sharing in the community and that balance needs to be determined.
Mr. Demond noted that with wind farm noise there are two concerns, infrasound or low frequency noise, below 20 hertz, and audible sound.
When the Pubnico project was done they initially did not know what the infrasound levels would be, if any. Natural Resources Canada contracted out GHC Engineering to study the Pubnico wind farm, and they concluded that infrasound was at a level that did not cause health concerns.
Catherine M asked about the affects of different terrain.
Mr. Demond indicated that in general terms, no company president or politician would want to be in a scenario where there is a lack of substantiation for their actions.
Catherine M stated that sound is after the fact. We would have to live with it. This may be why only one person in Pubnico is complaining about the noise from the wind farm.
She stated that in the United Kingdom the UK Health Authority appears to have some people who have complained of having health problems associated with wind farms. The UK has been in the wind farm business since the early 1980’s. Infrasound vibrations have been recorded as far away as ten kilometers. The research is ten years old and needs to be redone. It is difficult to prove that you are sick. She also stated that the wind farm in Tiber, Saskatchewan has been described as a behemoth of ugliness. Saying “get used to this, suck it up,” is not acceptable.
Jean K added that the citizens of Pubnico might not be as disturbed by noise, because they aren’t there for peace and quiet like the cottagers on the Gulf Shore.
George B asked if there would be any impact on cattle.
He noted that there are 18,000 turbines in Germany, with a variety of setbacks, but the new standard appears to be two kilometers. Mr. Demond disputed this, but admitted that he was not sure.
Joel H noted that in California setbacks were two miles. Mr. Demond stated that setbacks depend on the jurisdiction, hospitals require more setback than residences, different turbines have different sound levels.
Catherine M stated that she is going to Europe for vacation next week, and will be checking wind farm setback laws there at that time.
Jean K asked what the foundations of the wind turbines were constructed of. She was concerned that Portland cement was a green house gas producer.
Wilfred D noted that his daughter lives in Yarmouth, and she has not heard of complaints from the community, which includes Pubnico.
Mr. Demond described the turbines that would be installed as 120 meters high, 500 meter setback, plus 100 to 200 meters extra to the cottages, with the elevation drop and extra distances.
The project landowners, for economic reasons, want the project to go ahead.
He invited everyone to go to Pubnico, and look and hear what is there. Listen to the swoosh of the turbines. He offered to provide a bus to take the group down to see the Pubnico wind farm.
Jean K stated that a fisherman from Pubnico told her that the turbines create a loud swoosh, and that you will get used to it. She noted that she comes from a fishing community, and the people there tend to be complacent, they tolerate things more.
Mr. Demond stated that he will ask people at the end of the planning process if they are willing to go ahead with it.
Ruth D asked if any of the project landowners are actually living on this land. Mr. Demond replied that one, perhaps Keith I, would be. Paul D noted that acceptance of the noise is a lot easier when you are being paid for the inconvenience.
Ruth asked about the timing process.
Mr. Demond responded with the following time line.
They have been testing wind for two years with the tower behind Brogan’s house.
A receiver, likely Nova Scotia Power Corporation, is needed to be a customer for the project to go ahead.
The Provincial Government recently forced the utility to buy more green power, so NSPC, as of December 2006, is now interested in buying wind power.
An Atlantic Wind Power open house was held shortly after this NSPC announcement. A card was circulated in the community, and an announcement was placed in the Oxford Journal. Unfortunately the date and time was not included in the ad as specified. A mailer was also sent to local residents.
Cumberland County Council decided to draft Bylaws on wind farms, which are currently unregulated.
Atlantic Wind Farm is hosting an open house on April 11, 2007, in Pugwash
Cumberland County Council is voting on the setback bylaw April 18, 2007
Any project over 2 megawatts needs a provincial environmental assessment, which includes public consultation.
If the bylaw setback is two kilometer or more, he will fold up the project
The Federal Government would be involved if there are any navigable waters involved.
The Federal Government could also provide funding. If this is the case, the project would also require federal approval and to follow federal guidelines and regulations in addition to provincial rules.
Construction to be started in summer and completed in the Fall of 2009.
Mr. Demond again stated that he will ask the people at the end of the process if they are willing to let it go ahead
Joel H asked if the 500 meter setback was from the property line or from buildings. Mr. Demond stated it was to residential buildings, and if no residences present, would build right up to the property line, with minimal safety space for the windmill.
He noted that Pictou is proposing a setback of three times the height of the turbine (3×120=360 meters in Pugwash’s case)
Chester M asked that if he had a piece of land in the area, without a dwelling on it, could the turbine be against the property line.
Charles Desmond responded that “we will not build our turbines, in our view, in places where they are unwelcome” He then talked about bylaws and their impact on a business plan. He voiced concern about having unhappy neighbors who might develop a vigilante attitude and damage his equipment. His goal was to emerge with a decent brand or corporate image, to work with people.
Jean K asked what benefit Cumberland County would receive from this development. Paul Downing asked about specific tax benefits. Mr. Demond reported that it would be over $300,000 in taxes, based on a government wind farm taxation formula. Access to the site would be via the Irish Town Road, so that would have to be improved, at Atlantic Wind Power’s cost. Pugwash would retain ownership of the road. Pugwash Harbour could be used to deliver the large components by ship from their manufacturer.
Jean K asked if Atlantic Wind Farm would be willing to fund repairs to the Gulf Shore Road. Mr. Demond replied that they would not likely be using that road for access. He stated that he would help lobby Cumberland Council to use a portion of the tax revenue from this project towards Gulf Shore Road repairs.
Mr. Demond asked if another meeting would be appropriate immediately following the council’s meeting April 18th. Paul Downing noted that this was only a week away, so Charles requested a time for another meeting with this group, preferably in June. The group’s consensus was early July would be better for the seasonal residents. It was noted that this meeting would be mandatory for the environmental assessment process.
Chester M requested a better dimensional map of the project, with the 500 meter distances from the turbines clearly marked. Mr. Demond stated that he would email a PDF copy to Paul D for distribution.
Paul D voiced concern that the process was going too fast. The seasonal residents have not had a chance to digest or understand how this project will affect them. He suggested that Cumberland Council defer their wind farm bylaw decisions until the summer. Jean Keating stated that this was an excellent idea, and everyone else agreed.
Paul asked Mr. Demond if a delay would affect his project. He disagreed with a delay, as he wants to see the project go ahead.
Paul D offered to be a contact person for future meetings.
Meeting adjourned at 4:45, as some attending had to leave for other commitments.
Dr. Paul D
9 April 2007
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