Whether the residents of West Jeddore will ever have to deal with the disfiguring presence of industrial wind turbines on their scenic peninsula may come down to just how unified the community truly is.
In a recent telephone conversation, Rodrigo Moura, lead business developer with Anaia Global Renewable Energies of Halifax, presented an update on the West Jeddore wind farm project.
He emphatically stated that the project will not be moving forward any time soon, and he also made it clear that the decisions certain residents make will be a deciding factor in whether the wind farm ever becomes a reality.
“We have the project on hold,” Moura said.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure if it’s something that is still viable . . . because of recent changes in the bylaws.
“If this project could still be viable,” he said, “that’s only from the legal standpoint.
“We would still have to talk to the community. . . . There is no way for us to expropriate land or to force the project; we don’t have the power to do that.”
In short, the West Jeddore wind farm development can only proceed if enough local residents agree to lease their land for profit.
Thankfully, and because it is not right that a handful of local landowners should decide the fate of an entire community, there are things such as community consultation – and organizations such as the Friends of Jeddore.
The Friends of Jeddore is a community group whose goals, as stated on the website www.friendsofjeddore.com, “are to stop the large industrial turbine development on the Jeddore Peninsula, to make recommendations to Halifax Regional Municipality on the HRM wind energy bylaw, and to make generally known our concerns as to why large industrial-sized wind farms are not appropriate in close proximity to rural communities.”
On a recent rainy day, I drove out along the Eastern Shore to meet with Dave Kerr and Alastair Saunders, co-chairmen of the Friends of Jeddore and both walking, talking reference books on the health, financial, political and ecological ramifications of wind farms and turbines.
I learned that it was members of this group who, in presenting all the health and community concerns that tend to make wind turbines so controversial, recently and successfully lobbied regional council to change the municipal bylaw and increase the turbine setback distance from residences to one kilometre.
“I think we can officially take credit for that,” Kerr said.
“If it hadn’t been for our presentations before council, I think they would have gone with the proposed bylaw from staff, which was for a 550-metre setback. “The other major problem we had was that bylaw would have had an as-of-right approval process, which means that if a developer came along and got a bunch of landowners to sign leases, nobody else would have a say . . . there would be no public process.”
As I write this column, and due in part to the efforts of and concerns presented by the Friends of Jeddore, regional council and staff are in the process of deciding just how much involvement residents will have in future wind energy projects.
Having recently learned that council has endorsed a turbine project in the Lake Major watershed (which supplies potable water to many local communities, including mine), I know that this issue will soon hit close to home. It will no longer be a distant problem, easy to ignore.
And so, I for one would like to acknowledge the Friends of Jeddore for all the trail-blazing they’ve done on behalf of the rest of us.
I have no doubt that should their current concerns and issues ever become ours (and I think they soon will), we’ll find that our journeys are a lot smoother and shorter, thanks to all the hard work they’ve done and the head start they’ve provided.
Brenda MacDonald is a freelance writer living in Cole Harbour.