As Nova Scotia moves to harness wind power as never before, municipalities will soon have some help as they craft rules to regulate wind turbines.
The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the province have hired environmental consultants Jacques Whitford to look at the science around issues such as setbacks, noise and impacts on wildlife, and how other areas deal with turbines.
The report is expected within two weeks.
“We know there’s going to be a lot more wind development in this industry and we saw it as a way we could go out and give some assistance to municipalities as they go forward instead of them all duplicating the same process,” said Jason Hollett, a program administrator with the Energy Department, which is helping to fund the project.
The province has decided that between 18.5 and 20 per cent of Nova Scotia’s electricity must come from renewable energy sources by 2013.
Because wind power is “probably the most economical form of renewable energy right now, you’ll see a lot of that target, if not the majority of it, met by wind energy,” Mr. Hollett said.
Peggy Crawford, municipal sustainability co-ordinator with the UNSM, said the timing of the report’s release is critical.
“Nova Scotia Power is going to be announcing (wind energy) projects in the next few weeks,” she said. “One of the issues for us was making sure some of the information is available in advance of that or about the same time, so municipalities will have that information to help them as they deal with (projects) in their location.”
Mr. Hollett said Jacques Whitford will look at the best practices nationally and internationally. The consulting report will also contain a draft bylaw that municipalities can adopt or adapt to suit their particular requirements, if they choose.
Lisa Betts, who battled to put more distance between homes and proposed turbines in Cumberland County, said the report is a first step, even though she wants the province to be more involved in setting the rules.
“It’s good news if they are good guidelines and if they are acted upon,” she said.
“I would like for the province to look at the Jacques Whitford report with some intelligence and some education. Take a good hard look . . . and just go on from there.”
But mandatory provincewide rules are not on the horizon.
“Land-use planning falls within the jurisdiction of the municipalities. It’s not the role of the province to step in and take over, just on certain issues,” said Mr. Hollett. “We should be offering support to them on issues they need support with.”
Ms. Crawford said some municipalities may not need a bylaw but that dealing with turbine issues is a priority.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing this document come out in the next couple of weeks. We expect there will be some good things come out of it.”
By Kelly Shiers
17 January 2008
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