A controÂversial bylaw regulating the construction of wind farms in Cumberland County was apÂproved Wednesday, much to the dismay of its opponents.
“We’re really disgusted with council, we all are,” said Lisa Betts of Gulf Shore.
“We providÂed the county with a ton of inforÂmation. This is a complicated isÂsue and it’s not one where one size fits all. We had hoped that common sense would prevail, but it hasn’t.”
Ms. Betts was among dozens of people who spent the last month fighting a bylaw that calls on wind farms to be built no closer to a residence than three times the height of the wind turbine. In the case of a 120-metre wind turbine, that setback would be 360 metres.
Ms. Betts, whose property is adjacent to a 20- to 27-turbine wind farm being proposed by Cobequid Area Wind Farms, and her neighbours objected to the proposed setback because they felt a wind farm that close to their properties would disÂturb the tranquillity of the area because of the noise and shadow flicker it would create.
They also said the wind farm would harm property values in the area, which is known for its high-end cottages. In 18 presentÂations and 61 papers that were filed with council during a pubÂlic hearing two weeks ago, they suggested a two-kilometre setÂback.
During Wednesday’s meeting, several councillors attempted to amend the setback distance, suggesting anything from 400 to 1,000 metres. Motions for 400, 500 and 800 metres met defeat when no one would second them.
A motion to establish a 1,000-metre setback was secÂonded but was defeated 5-3.
Those voting against it said a 1,000-metre setback would send a signal to wind farm developÂers that Cumberland County was closed for business and would kill the current proposals in the county.
Council did compromise in a second 5-3 vote that created a setback of 500 metres or three times the height of the turbine, whichever it tallest.
“I think that is a good comproÂmise,” Warden Keith Hunter said after the meeting.
“I initially thought 200 metres would be adequate, but after beÂing informed by Lisa and her group and doing my own reÂsearch, I now believe that 500 metres will provide the protecÂtion people need from the noise and shadow flicker.
“I would also rather have these regulations than no reguÂlations, which is what we had before we passed this today. PeoÂple should be happy that it’s 500 metres.”
The three councillors, Kathy Redmond, Kathy Langille and John Reid, who voted against the bylaw weren’t happy. They felt the 500-metre setback was not adequate and that the bylaw failed to ensure that public conÂsultation process was part of the wind farm development procÂess.
They vowed to work to ensure the bylaw is changed.
Ms. Betts and her peers also said they would continue to fight the legislation.
“We’ll pursue any and all aveÂnues including legal ones to have this changed,” said RiÂchard Gray of Gulf Shore, who challenged council’s view that a 1,000-metre setback would harm wind farm projects in the counÂty.
Among those avenues would be an appeal of council’s deciÂsion to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
By Tom McCoag