The thorny issue of proposed wind turbine regulations in the Halifax region is back in the hands of city staff.
On Tuesday night, regional council put off a vote on the matter and instead directed staff to do more work on the potential impact of large turbines on rural communities.
The deferral came after a packed public hearing at city hall.
Several speakers from the Jeddore area criticized proposed turbine siting rules, while business operators in the wind energy field supported the municipality’s plans.
Though both sides back wind-generated electricity production in Halifax Regional Municipality, they differed on the key issue of setbacks in rural areas that would host large, industrial-scale turbines.
City staff said under proposed land-use rules, a wind tower would have to be at least 550 metres from homes and schools. Members of the Friends of Jeddore told the hearing that 2,000 metres would be a much better regulation.
Also, the Jeddore group raised questions about noise pollution, fire safety, the environment and property values.
Helen Browne, chief executive officer of Prospect Wind Inc., said the proposed 550-metre buffer “is suitable” for the municipality’s rural districts. She encouraged regional council to embrace the development of wind energy projects.
A Pleasant Point resident told the public hearing the issue is a quality-of-life matter for him. He said the fact the city is considering allowing large turbines without site-specific development agreements is a boon to wind energy developers but a catastrophe for local householders.
Coun. Steve Streatch (Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley) said council needs more information because staff information to date is “not adequate.”
He said he’d like to see details on how other jurisdictions handle wind turbine issues.
Staff are to prepare a report for a regional council session in August. Council is now on a three-week recess.
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