When I arrived at St Thomas More church hall last Wednesday evening, there was already over 140 people seated and AWPC was just getting started on a presentation.
Over the next hour more people arrived. Daniel and Carolyn d’Entremont had driven up all the way from Pubnico.
Atlantic Wind Power Company (AWPC) had three people at a front table and at the back of the hall a rep from Vestas turbines, an environmental analyst, and three or four more from their company.
There was a guest book to sign, glossy brochures, some maps, lapel pins and a table with munchies and tea/coffee/water/pop.
The d’Entremonts had brought and distributed copies of an aerial picture of Pubnico wind farm with their house clearly seen next to some of the turbines.
Charles Demond (AWPC) gave his presentation and then the questions started to come. There were a lot of people who had very valid questions, comments and concerns and they were not always answered directly, if at all.
Questions ranged from where a sub-station would go in (next to existing substation at the Salt Mine), power transmission and distribution cables to how the Environmental Assessment (EA) is progressing.
There were people who spoke about concerns about property value, noise, blight, local economy effects and bird mortality.
There was quite a discussion as to whether this would be in cottage country or not. Apparently, APWC believes that cottage country is just the land to the north of the Gulf Shore Road! There was a lot of time spent on who was to blame (AWPC or the County) for the timing of meetings, consultation with the public and setback bylaw amendments.
There were questions about noise of not just one but 27 turbines. Related to this was discussion as to whether the turbines would be direct or gear drive and whether the rotors would be upwind or down wind.
AWPC had told us about how much tax money would go to the County from their project and they would urge County to spend it here. They have absolutely no say on this matter and the County will spend their money where they like. When asked about how proposed changes to tax laws in Bill 160 would vastly reduce their tax base, we were given a confusing, rambling diatribe on assessments and tax claims (Charles is a lawyer and a chartered accountant).
AWPC generally answered questions by deflecting to something else they could talk about that no one from the floor could answer to. We were told about how the people in Germany and Denmark get along with turbines in close proximity (smaller turbines in smaller numbers and locally owned – not so many big farms as being proposed here). They blinded us with a very poor slide of sound levels at given distances that no one could see to be able to discuss. There was no explanation about decibels and they were using data from Ontario which uses levels higher than those recommended by the World Health Organization.
There were many, many things they said that were incorrect, misleading or spurious – and no way to dispute what they were saying without getting into a shouting match.
Daniel d’Entremont got to express some of his problems he’s had with AWPC’s wind farm in Pubnico. He says their family was made sick by the turbines, he can’t sell his house anyone is welcome to come and stay – its empty because they cannot live there.
AWPC is organising bus tours from Pugwash to Pubnico.
I had deliberately kept quiet for the first part of the meeting. I wanted it to be evident that concerns about this wind farm are not just mine, but of many others. After about an hour an a half I finally got up to have my say and to reply to claims Charles had made earlier against this blog and me.
I introduced myself and explained why this blog exists. Charles had claimed that he had been misrepresented here. He took particular offence at the minutes of last Saturday’s meeting being posted.
I reminded Charles that what he had said had outside Council Chambers last week had been witnessed by people who were all also at this meeting and I had reported him accurately (he claims that what he meant was that the wind farm wasn’t going into cottage country, because it was going in south of the Gulf Shore Road).
I accepted that maybe it hadn’t been wise to so quickly publish minutes of a meeting I hadn’t been to and (he claims) he had not yet seen himself. In order not to get distracted by such a minimal point (in comparison to way more important concerns) I told him I would change the previous blog entry, which I did as soon as I got home.
I asked about the EA process and asked if AWPC had seen a new report which clearly concludes that, because of concerns over health, loss of property value etc, setbacks should be a minimum of 2km. They hadn’t seen it and I promised to send it to them, which I have. The report I was referring to is the first of two found on the following link, but the second is excellent also. http://www.windturbinenoisehealthhumanrights.com/
One of the other presenters (I am sorry I never caught his name) had said earlier that when he looks
for the location for a new wind farm the most important criteria is wind speed. I challenged this. All the critics and indeed most wind turbine manufacturers, consultants and proponents agree, that a far more important issue is current land use.
He had also said that there was no wind away from the shoreline.
I didn’t get to reply to that at the open house but anyone who can access a wind map can see this is absolutely not true. ScotianWindfields showed us some really neat software that has very detailed wind maps. The Cobequids rate very highly for wind.
I was explaining why it was so important why County writes a good turbine setback bylaw, which in turn could easily be adopted by other counties or even (eventually) the Province when suddenly, Charles changed his tone with me. I could feel I was being sucked into a trap, but I couldn’t work out fast enough what it was. He asked me what I was asking for a setback. I said 2km. I know this is too simplistic a setback, property borders and land use have to be considered etc etc and I had tried to say that there are some provisos that should be included. But I quickly felt out of my depth (planning strategies isn’t my strong suit) so rather than be standing there stammering and stumbling I simply answered that the setback should be 2km from every residence, whether it is a million dollar home or a one room shack – everyone deserves their peace and quiet and health. He triumphantly replied “So do I”.
Later on, it became clear as to what the trap had been. They then repeatedly used the claim that 2km setback from any residence would kick out any wind farm anywhere in the County. Of course, no one had County maps with them with every house marked on it to dispute this. They claimed that there would be no wind power generation in the County!
Excellently laid trap, making utterly spurious claims which distracted the crowd from the point in hand – whether a wind farm should go in cottage country on the Gulf Shore.
No one has said there should be no wind power generation – either in farms or in smaller installations. I can confidently say that everyone at the meeting is pro wind.
Our concerns are with the location of this particular farm.
There were some more excellent questions and comments from the floor, but the meeting had now been going on for over three hours and people were starting to leave. The meeting slowly broke up.
Very late in the meeting there were a couple of men who spoke up for the turbines. I understand that the gentlemen who spoke passionately about how we must embrace wind energy because of global warming and for the sake of future generations is the same person who recently bought huge tracts of land and clear cut them to farm blueberries.
As I have mentioned before, large open uninhabited areas (such as blueberry fields) would be perfect for wind energy generation.
I spoke with Annabelle Singleton of CBCL Ltd. This is the consulting firm that is handling the Environment Assessment (EA). They also handled the EA for the Pubnico project. Ms Singleton was very attentive, answered questions immediately and clearly and was taking copious notes. I have great hopes that she will put together a comprehensive and complete EA.
If you haven’t e-mailed, phoned or written to your councillor, please do so right away. The next Council meeting is this Wednesday when there will be a public hearing. Anyone who turns up to speak must be heard. They then have the opportunity to go to second reading that day or may postpone to a later date.
The current County proposal is for 3x the height of the turbine.
I am suggesting 10x the height or 2km, whichever is greater. Other suggestions have been for anything from 1km to 5km.
13 April 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding