UPPER NAPPAN – The distance of windmills from homes is always a controversial subject, but what about building wind turbines in wilderness areas?
That was the question up for debate before the Municipality of Cumberland County passed the first reading of the wind bylaw amendments Wednesday afternoon at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal building in Upper Nappan.
The bylaw states that there shall be a distance of 500 metres between homes and wind turbines but councilor John Reid of District 9 had a different concern about the bylaw, especially section 3.3A-1, which focuses on, “areas designated by the Province as existing or proposed protected wildlife areas or other environmentally sensitive lands were to be protected.”
“I’m opposed to putting in our bylaw that we can’t put a windmills in protected areas because it could strongly effect the possibility of putting windmills anywhere along the Joggins shore.” Reid said. “We’re willing to place windmills 500 metres from residents but we’re putting a 10 or 20 mile buffer around a bunch of bullfrogs. I don’t understand why they deserve more protection than the residents do.”
“Also, there is no evidence showing that a windmill will create an environmental hazard in a wilderness area,” he added.
The bylaw goes on to say, “… It shall be the policy of council to adopt a zoning map overlay that defines areas that are not appropriated for small and large-scale wind turbines. This Restricted (R) Zone shall include, but not be limited to: designated provincial and federal parks, protected provincial and federal beaches provincial and federal wilderness areas, known lands of ecological significance, designated municipal, provincial and federal historic sites, provincial wildlife areas, Ramsar wetlands, provincial game sanctuaries, national migratory bird sanctuaries, designated water supply areas, Nature Conservancy of Canada lands, aboriginal reserve lands, open mining pits and mining related shaft areas, and known significant habitat areas…”
“That eliminates a lot of area,” Reid said.
The amended bylaw also states, “Should the status of this protection change, the Municipality can review and update its own bylaws accordingly.”
Cumberland County director of planning, Penny Henneberry, explained that wording to the council on Wednesday.
“In other words if the province lessens its restriction in those particular areas then we can also change our mapping accordingly,” Henneberry said.
Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter agreed and added, “I am almost sure that the province is looking to relax the regulations in that area, and we will do the same thing.”
Reid thinks the bylaw leaves the municipality almost powerless in the face of the provincial government with regards to wind turbines.
“If we want windmills and the province overrides it, then we have to live with that,” he said. “Also, if we have a municipality bylaw stating we won’t have windmills from Joggins to Apple River because that’s a protected area, then we’ll have to live with that as well, but we shouldn’t be told by the province and the municipalities where we want or don’t want our windmills.”
Just before he voted against the passing of the first reading of the bylaw, Reid said, “the municipality should have the power to show the province where restrictions should and shouldn’t be.”
A public hearing and second reading of the wind bylaw amendments will take place during a regular meeting of county council Nov. 9 at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal building in Upper Nappan.