Concerns remain over setbacks and property value impacts
Proponents and opponents of wind farms in Cumberland County agree that a study on the industry is a good thing, but both feel it has more than a few drawbacks.
“Overall I thought it was a good, comprehensive document and there are a number of things in it that we agree with, but there are a few areas in which we question the information,” Gulf Shore Association spokesperson Lisa Betts said. “Some of it is based on flawed information.”
Betts’ group has waged a lengthy battle against a proposed wind farm development in the Gulf Shore area. Atlantic Wind Power Corporation is proposing to erect between 20 and 27 100-metre tall turbines in an area between the Gulf Shore Road and the Irishtown Road near Pugwash.
The 117-page report by environmental consultants Jacques Whitford suggests setting rules for wind farms up to individual municipalities as opposed to having government adopt a blanket approach.
The report points out there are many different views on the impacts of turbines when it comes to noise and setback distances between home and the turbines. What Betts is questioning, though, is the comment that there is little evidence to support the claim that surrounding property values have been hurt as a result of wind energy development.
“One of the things that’s been a major part of our argument is property values,” Betts said. “Looking at what they’ve cited and what they’ve said, we think they’ve goofed. This report says there’s no impact, but there is an impact.”
She also feels it’s still incumbent upon the province to set some minimum standards when it comes to turbine placement.
Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter feels the report is good, but it’s also a little “wishy-washy.”
Hunter is disappointed as well that the province didn’t come out with some firm guidelines and the UNSM-commissioned study rehashed what happened elsewhere without making any firm recommendations.
“I’m not saying recommendations that people have to follow, but some guidelines that point out ‘here’s what we found, do what you wish.’
He did find from reading the report that the county’s setback of three times tower height or 500 metres is quite sufficient when compared to other areas.
By Darrell Cole
10 February 2008
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