A mountain of questions; Ski hill operator, residents raise concerns about impact wind farm could have on Wentworth area
WENTWORTH – A proposed wind farm project for Higgins Mountain is causing some concern for the operators of Ski Wentworth and others in the Wentworth Valley-Folly Lake area.
“I want to make it clear that we are in favour of renewable energy and all of the benefits that come with it, but we do have some concerns about the proposal that will see 400-foot (120-metre) turbines being erected right across the valley from the ski hill,” Ski Wentworth spokeswoman Leslie Wilson said Monday.
Ottawa-based 3G Energy Corp. proposes to build 66 turbines along a seven-kilometre stretch of the Cobequid Mountains. They would be on a ridge on the opposite side of the valley from the ski hill. The project is among the largest ever proposed for Nova Scotia.
There are already three wind turbines operating on Higgins Mountain.
“Some of the turbines will be located directly across from the hill, so we are worried about noise and how far they will be from homes and cottages in the area. We are also concerned about the esthetics of having such big turbines running the length of this beautiful valley. It is the area’s beauty that is attracting people to come to live here,” Ms. Wilson said.
“However, because they will be to the west of the ski hill we are most concerned about the shadow flicker on the hill that could be caused by the setting sun. We’re worried that it could be a safety hazard because the flicker could fall on our trails and cause some of our skiers to become disoriented.”
She would like 3G Energy to conduct a study to show that “this wouldn’t be a problem.”
The Folly Lake Landowners Association has held a couple of information sessions about the wind farm and supports alternative energy, but has some concerns about the Higgins Mountain proposal, spokesman Peter Bigelow of Halifax said in a separate interview.
“Some (members) are concerned about the impact (the) 37-storey-high turbines will have on the valley; others are concerned about real estate values and, like the ski hill, many are worried about being subjected to shadow flicker and noise.”
Some residents have already suffered migraines and nausea from the shadow flicker created by the three existing turbines, he added.
Sound is another issue. “We’re worried that because low-frequency sound would flow down into the valley . . . it could affect the sleeping patterns of residents.”
Residents are also concerned that the wind farm could cut off access to a number of trails that have been used by local snowmobilers for decades.
Still others are worried what effect such a project would have on local wildlife, such as the mainland moose and the eagle and bat populations. Mr. Bigelow said.
“If our concerns can be met, I’m sure no one will have problems with having the wind farm located here,” he said.
Cumberland County councillor Kathy Redmond said the company has “expressed a willingness to listen.”
Attempts to reach 3G Energy Monday were not successful.
The company is one of many that last summer proposed building wind farms to sell electricity to Nova Scotia Power.
The power corporation hopes to have negotiations wrapped up and announcements made of the successful bids by the end of the year.
By Tom McCoag
20 November 2007
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