Cumberland County is moving ahead with a wind farm bylaw that will set the minimum distance between wind turbines and nearby residences at 500 metres or three times the tower height, which ever is greater.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s a good compromise,” Warden Keith Hunter said following council’s May meeting on Wednesday. “Rather than have no regulations, we at least have some regulations. They may be disappointed on the Gulf Shore that we have a 500-metre setback but they should be happy we have a 500-metre setback rather than no setback.”
The bylaw, which passed by a 5-3 count, is contrary to what residents near a proposed wind farm on the Gulf Shore wanted. They’d lobbying for a two-kilometre setback between their homes and Atlantic Wind Power’s proposed wind farm. The company hopes to erect 20 to 27 wind turbines between the Gulf Shore Road and the Irishtown Road near Pugwash. It’s proposing a 500-metre setback.
During Wednesday’s meeting, several unsuccessful attempts were made to increase the distance from the proposed three times the tower height to 800 metres and a kilometre.
Kathy Langille, who represents the Pugwash area on council, was disappointed with the decision saying the setback should be at least one kilometre.
“The message I got loud and clear was those people do not want it in their area and I’m disappointed that council opted to go with 500 metres,” she said. “I could’ve agreed to a kilometre, but I don’t like it the way it is at all.”
Langille feels the county should have proceeded through development agreements that would judge each proposed wind farm on its own merits and would include the public in the deliberations.
“I feel that if this project goes forward that we’ll be considered the guinea pig,” Langille said.
During debate on the motion, planner Jim Coughlin said using development agreements as opposed to an all-encompassing bylaw would have set the process back to square one. Coughlin feels it would be better to judge the bylaw after the first wind farm is approved and established using it.
Coun. Kathy Redmond feels landowners need protection and the new bylaw falls far short of that.
“If I own a piece of property I should have some say in something that’s going to be detrimental to its value,” Redmond said. “I plan to fight for an easment or at least a notice for all those who are going to be impacted when something’s going in next to their property.”
Coun. Gerald Read, who supported the motion, said pushing the distance to a kilometre or beyond would jeopardize other projects in the county, including one proposed for the Tantramar Marsh near Amherst.
Warden Hunter said increasing the setback would sent the wrong message to wind farm developers by telling them Cumberland County is closed to their business.
By Darrell Cole
The Amherst Daily News
2 May 2007
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