They say the population in Pugwash more than triples in the summer months with the huge influx of cottage owners, none more distinguished than singer Anne Murray. These seasonal residents have a right to be heard just like any others.
Ms. Murray, along with 450 others who live in the area, opposes a developer’s plan to build between 20 and 27 large wind turbines in the scenic Gulf Shore region. Earlier this week in a commentary piece published in The Chronicle Herald, Ms. Murray wrote that many of the people who have located there want to build their “dream home” and a proposed wind farm would be “catastrophic” for the area.
Her comments have upset lawyer-turned-wind-developer Charles Demond. He says the renowned singer’s comments are not “helpful” for his business and the development of wind farms in the province.
Whether Mr. Demond likes it or not is immaterial. The public has a right to freedom of speech.
For the record, Ms. Murray says she supports the idea of wind-generated electricity, but opposes the turbines being located close to where people live, and adds that there are too many unanswered questions concerning the effects of noise, vibration and shadow flicker.
Nova Scotia does not have specific provincial regulations governing wind farms. Determining how close to a home a wind turbine can be located is the responsibility of each municipality, depending on local zoning bylaws. Mr. Demond’s company, Atlantic Wind Power, successfully convinced Cumberland County council in May to approve a bylaw setting the distance at 500 metres. He says that distance is required to hook up to the power grid, and a two-kilometre setback requested by residents in the area would kill the project.
Atlantic Wind Power has yet to submit its plans to the provincial government for an environmental assessment, which is required for any project having one or two turbines.
This squabble reveals the growth of the wind industry in Nova Scotia is occurring in a largely unregulated environment. The province wants 20 per cent of electricity generated by renewable sources by 2013. This means more wind projects are coming and the government should adopt uniform regulations to bring certainty to developers and the public. Voluntary Planning, an independent and trusted board, should be asked to consult with the public and experts, and come up with recommendations on rules to harness this energy.
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