A fight over the location of a wind farm in Nova Scotia has attracted a famous Canadian snowbird. Singer Anne Murray is angry over a proposed wind farm development near her cottage along the scenic Northumberland Strait.
“They are imposing structures and not the sort of thing one would wants to see from a golf course,” Murray wrote Tuesday in a commentary published in a Halifax newspaper.
The renowned singer of such recordings as Snowbird, Both Sides Now and There Goes My Everything said the development would spoil Nova Scotia’s Gulf Shore area and detract from the Northumberland Links Golf Course where Murray enjoys playing. She also said it would ruin the area for the many people who have located there to build their “dream home.”
Murray called the proposed wind farm an “industrial installation.”
The proposed wind farm would have up to 27, 120-metre tall turbines. The turbines would generate 30 megawatts, enough power for about 15,000 homes. The development is proposed to be online in 2009.
Murray’s cottage is three to four kilometres away from the proposed development. “We must do whatever it takes to preserve our precious coastline for generations to come,” added the Springhill, N.S. native.
But the singer’s pitch to prevent the wind farm development from moving ahead has hit a sour note with at least one environmentalist.
Jennifer Graham, coastal coordinator for the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, said she found it ironic that Murray is worried that the wind turbines will ruin the coastline. “Her ‘dream homes’ will be the ruin of her precious coastline,” Graham said.
Because no integrated management strategy exists for Nova Scotia’s coast, people have been able to build houses near sensitive areas, according to Graham. “As a result of this, we have all kinds of projects being proposed – including wind mills – in a piecemeal plan.”
Graham said she didn’t necessarily object to the project, noting that a well-sited wind farm can bring economic benefits to local communities.
Murray isn’t the only person against the development. Lisa Betts, a north shore resident and chair of the Gulf Shore Association, said about 450 Pugwash and area residents are opposed to the project. She said visitors come to the golf course, see the natural beauty and then end up purchasing a cottage in the area. “It’s their money that keeps the economy going,” Betts said. “A devastated economy is what we would get.”
Local residents are concerned that the wind turbines will detract from the area’s natural beauty, causing cottagers to sell their properties and businesses to slump.
Bruce McIver, director of Golf at Northumberland Links where some 25,000 visitors annually play, said: “These things are huge, imposing.”
He described 36-storey turbines looming over the golf course’s serene setting and said the turbines would turn the serene area into “an industrial park.”
Clair Peers, one of the wind farm’s developers and who grew up in the area, said the Gulf Shore Association knew Murray had a cottage nearby and likely recruited her in their battle against the project. “It’s probably a clever tactic to get someone famous involved. It’s been an ongoing thing.”
Murray could not be reached for comment.
Peers said he and company partner Atlantic Wind Power chose the site because it is close to the power grid, would benefit from the winds off the strait and is environmentally friendly. “I thought what a wonderful thing to bring back to the community I grew up in.”
However, Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader whose riding is in Nova Scotia, said she sides with Murray in the debate. “She’s clear she supports wind power and is talking about siting. Perhaps we can agree cottage country is not the best site for wind farms.”
Instead, May expressed surprise that Atlantic Wind Power – previously involved in a siting controversy in Nova Scotia in 2005 – hadn’t learned its lesson and was fighting uphill against public opinion again. In 2005, the company developed its Pubnico Point Wind Farm in southwest Nova Scotia. At least one family moved, complaining of noise from that development.
May suggested hilltops in the province might be more appropriate for wind developments rather than the coastline.
“I think Anne Murray was right to say she supports wind power, but this isn’t the right place for it.”
11 July 2007
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