Richmond County’s warden, concerned a proposed wind turbine project across the county line in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality could adversely affect the environment, will meet with provincial environment officials to forcefully argue for a comprehensive study of the project.
Cape Breton Explorations Ltd. was given the go-ahead last November after the CBRM approved changes to its land use bylaw allowing for the mixed wind and hydro project to draw water from Lake Uist in its jurisdiction. The fresh water lake straddles the municipal boundary.
John Boudreau said he plans to meet with Environment Minister Mark Parent to discuss the need for a comprehensive federal environmental assessment that would examine the wide-ranging scientific impacts this project could have on the environment.
“We’re concerned about fish habitat, the potential for contamination with methyl-mercury, we’re concerned about the potential harm to the overall fresh water supply in that area,” the warden said.
The Richmond council is also worried about water flowing from Lake Uist. The lake empties into Loch Lomond and Grand River, a popular salmon fishing ground for sport fishermen.
Fishermen believe the company’s planned 44 wind turbines and a hydroelectric plant powered by water from the lake could disturb the temperature of Grand River and hurt the salmon population.
At night, the energy from the wind turbines would power underwater turbines in the lake and pump water into a highland reservoir.
The New Waterford and Area Fish and Game Association has reservations that building a reservoir for the hydro portion of the wind farm would cause the leaching of methyl-mercury into the water.
The project’s developer Luciano Lisi, who’s the chief financial officer for Cape Breton Exploration Ltd., told the Cape Breton Post last month the federal government will decide the process for the necessary environmental assessment.
“It’s going to take us a year to go through this process,” Lisi said.
“We follow a process and the process is slow, and we wish it wasn’t, but it is.”
Boudreau said from the estimates he has, the project is geared to begin this fall.
“What made us a bit apprehensive, in particular myself, is that when Mr. Lisi came down to Arichat and presented us a slide show of the project, I noted on one of the slides that he was using that construction of the reservoir would begin in late 2008,” he said.
“That’s not my understanding of the environmental assessment process. The ones I’ve been involved with have all taken two to three years to complete.”
He is asking engineering firm CBCL Ltd. to conduct at least two public meetings in the Grand River area – the first to present information about the project and for the public to ask questions and the second meeting, which would allow the company to answer those questions.
Boudreau said he hopes Lisi insists the federal government conducts a comprehensive review, which would provide detailed scientific data on the project.
By Chris Shannon
13 March 2008
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