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Turbine distance debated

After nearly five years of consultations and reports, Halifax Regional Council will consider regulations surrounding the construction of wind turbines.

A staff report to be delivered to council tomorrow sets out guidelines for wind turbines, including restricted areas, setback distances from residential properties and height restrictions.

The guidelines are divided into two sections – urban and rural.

All types of turbines would be considered for rural areas, while urban turbines would be micro, small and medium categories, with a maximum height of 60 metres.

The report also recommends turbines in urban areas be limited to business parks and select marine industrial areas, while rural turbines would be kept 550 metres from adjacent residences.

But Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley Coun. Steve Streatch wants that distance doubled for large-scale wind-farm projects.

“One turbine is one thing, but when you have 15 or 20 ganged together … the repercussions are exponential,” said Streatch. “It creates a much larger problem.”

One project in particular has drawn Streatch’s attention to the issue: a wind farm planned for the Jeddore area. He thinks large-scale projects should have their own set of rules within the proposed guidelines.

“The issue of one small turbine are much greater with a series of turbines,” he said.

Choosing to adopt proposed wind-turbine guidelines would not prevent council from nixing a particularly controversial project should one arise, according to Cole Harbour Coun. Lorelei Nicoll, who sits on the municipality’s environment subcommittee.

That’s because the staff report recommends processing turbine projects on an as-of-right basis.

Nicoll said proposed projects can be reviewed by the appropriate community council.