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HRM says turbines must keep distance; Setback from homes to be 1,000 metres

Halifax regional council moved Tuesday to allay the fears of rural residents concerned about the future development of large wind turbines and wind farms.

Council approved a 1,000-metre setback from habitable buildings for large, industrial-style turbines. Municipal officials had been considering a shorter separation distance.

Alastair Saunders, co-chairman of the Friends of Jeddore, said his group would have preferred an even greater setback, but he is satisfied with council’s decision.

Saunders said 1,000 metres is consistent with other jurisdictions.

Council was debating turbine rules after receiving a staff report with revisions that were made after comments received during a public hearing last month.

“We’re happy with where we are,” Saunders told reporters outside the council chamber. “What we’re really pleased with, also, is the fact that council has listened to the concerns of the people.”

Councillors also agreed to a community consultation process prior to the installation of large-scale wind turbines proposed for Halifax Regional Municipality.

During Tuesday’s council session, Coun. Steve Streatch (Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley) argued on behalf of Jeddore-area residents, saying new wind energy rules are for the entire municipality.

“We put another set of checks and balances in place, that the communities affected and the residents of HRM will have a say in how industrial projects such as this will take place in their areas,” Streatch said after the turbine debate.

Coun. Bob Harvey (Lower Sackville) criticized the province for lacking a uniform set of regulations for the installation and operation of wind turbines.

In other business, council gave the green light to letters of intent linked to the municipality’s bid to become a host city for an international soccer tournament in 2015.

The letters are related to the FIFA Women’s World Cup and a companion event in 2014. There are seven candidate cities in Canada hoping to land soccer matches.