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Wind farm south of Montreal scrapped

A wind farm slated to be built south of Montreal has been cancelled after popular opposition and an unfavourable environmental review persuaded the provincial government to kill the plan.

The wind farm near Saint-Valentin, 40 kilometres southeast of Montreal, would have had 25 turbines generating up to 50 megawatts of electricity β€“ enough to power more than 30,000 homes at full generating capacity.

But the community was starkly divided over the proposal, with some residents supporting wind power for its ecological benefits while others, including the mayors of some local municipalities, organized an opposition group to protest the scheme.

In its final report on the wind farm plan, Quebec’s environmental review agency, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, said Friday that the project should not go ahead without substantial modifications. The turbines and power lines would obtrude on some of the province’s best agricultural land and would interfere with the migration route of geese and other species, the agency said.

“While wind energy represents is a tremendous wealth-creation opportunity for regions, this development isn’t possible without support from the area,” Quebec Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau said in a news release.

The environmental review did not raise any major concerns about the wind farm’s possible effects on neighbouring residents, saying its distance β€“ 750 metres from Saint-Valentin and a kilometre from the community of Saint-Paul-de-l’Île-aux-Noix β€“ was enough to satisfy noise requirements.

The review did say, however, that the wind farm’s backers, a subsidiary of energy giant TransAlta, didn’t properly consult local residents.

In a statement on Friday, the Calgary-based company said it agreed that modifications should be made to its proposal, and added that it has been planning different ways “to improve the project and address the concerns of the population.”