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Proximity of wind turbines is a concern for some residents in Pokeshaw/Grand-Anse  

Info meeting held about proposed wind farm project

If there is one thing that is a sure crop in Pokeshaw, it is wind. In this era of green energy, that fact is not lost on the wind farm industry. E.ON Climate & Renewables, a wind farm developer based in Ontario, has made an application to NB Power to put in 66 wind turbines in the Pokeshaw and Grande-Anse area.

The turbines would be located between one and three kilometres from the shoreline and would track inland from but parallel to Highway 11.

The amount of energy produced would light tens of thousands of households.

Approximately 150 people turned out on April 14 at the Pokeshaw Recreation Centre for an open house hosted by E.ON. Project manager Steven Xuereb and several company representatives were on hand with information displays and brochures prepared to respond to questions.

“The purpose of the information session is to get feedback from the community on any questions, concerns, or issues the public may have, and they would like to see addressed during the development phase.” explained Mr., Xuereb. “It is also a part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in New Brunswick to carry out public information sessions, for exactly that purpose.”

As for the public reaction, Mr. Xuereb believes the project has generally been well received by most of the community, but said some concerns have been raised.

“For example, concerns have been expressed on the environmental impact on the birds, bats and water. We will be addressing those and we have begun to address those during the EIA.”

One of those concerned resident is Paul Barriault who doesn’t feel people are getting complete information.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he stressed. “I don’t think people are being misinformed, they are not being properly informed, and I think they should have more information.”

He has a long list of concerns involving health, the impact on the water table and the environment.

“People aren’t fully aware of the impacts these industrial wind farms have on a local community, when they are so close to their homes,” said Mr. Barriault. “I am not against wind energy. Look, I am for my toilet, but in the bathroom – not in the middle of my kitchen floor. I don’t think they should be putting these turbines in inappropriate places. They want to put them about 500 metres from people’s homes. That’s too close.”

Mr. Xuereb acknowledged the concern.

“Setbacks are a concern to people that the turbines will be sighted too close to homes and we address that by using best practices in the industry as well as working together with the planning commissions, both on the Pokeshaw and Grand Anse side, which we have to respect.”

Presently there are no guidelines or regulations in New Brunswick regarding setbacks for wind farms from residential areas.

Local landowner Tess Alcott now resides in Bathurst but was born and raised in Pokeshaw, where her parents and many of her friends and family still live.

She has some concerns about the impact on people’s health who form areas that live that close to wind farms and she doesn’t feels she is getting enough information to make a decision about the use of her land.

“I would love to see the community do well. I’d love to see some people make some money, but if it’s going to be a risk to my family and friends and the people I grew up with, I don’t want the money.”

The project is in the environmental assessment phase, and the developer must complete the EIA, submit it to government for review and then present to the public for comment. Once all the permits and approvals are granted, EON will start construction.

“We are aiming to start the construction phase no earlier than March 2009,” concluded Mr. Xuereb.

By Paul Chapman

The Northern Light

22 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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