BRAESHORE – A company looking at building wind turbines in the Braeshore area says it won’t go ahead with plans if there is too much opposition.
Andy MacCallum, project developer for Wind Prospect, said the company has applied through the province’s ComFit program to put up two wind turbines in Braeshore and it is aware that some people in the area are not in favour.
“If it gets approved, we will have a meeting right away and try to work it out,” he said. “It’s still very early, but we aren’t going to push it through if the community doesn’t want it.”
MacCallum said Wind Prospect has met opposition in the past – most recently in Antigonish – to wind projects, but over time, people see the benefits of them.
“We are building two turbines at a wind farm in Antigonish that started about two and half years ago. When we put our proposal out there, we did get some push-back, but now we have unanimous approval,” he said.
He said his company usually waits until it gains approval from the government before it starts consulting with the public, but it decided to hold a public meeting in New Glasgow late last year to discuss both the Braeshore and Merigomish projects.
Wind Prospect sent out 6,000 invitations to nearby residents, but he said Canada Post lost 2,000 of these flyers, the majority of which were in the Braeshore area. MacCallum said a second meeting was set up just before Christmas with about 25 concerned Braeshore residents, out of which three expressed real opposition to the project.
Susan Moland is one of the people who has concerns about the proposed project and is hosting a meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday in her Braeshore home on the topic.
She said a petition will be available for people to sign and to take with them, along with information about wind turbines.
“I don’t care what kind of decision people make, I just want them to make an educated decision,” she said.
Moland said she has concerns about property values decreasing and health problems associated with wind turbines.
“I am not opposed to wind turbines, but I don’t think they belong in residential areas,” she said.
She said there is a 600-metre set back with the wind turbines, but she feels this isn’t far enough way from her property or her neighbours’ homes. Moland said she and a few other people have expressed their concerns to Nova Scotia Energy Minister Charlie Parker who said he would look at both sides of the issue before signing off on any applications.
“The onus is really on the company to prove that it has community support,” Parker said, adding Wind Prospect’s application is in the very early stages and it still needs to meet certain criteria, including having the backing of the community.
Parker said the province has received 88 similar applications for wind farms through the ComFit program and it has recently approved five of these proposals.
“There are some applications that are well prepared and have the community support and others that are still in the early stages and they don’t have their community support lined up,” he said. “They have proved they have community support and if they don’t it’s not going to get approved.”
MacCallum said it takes between two and three years to develop wind farms and if it is granted approval, tests on noise models and visibility assessment will be done and the findings will be presented to the public. He said the Braeshore turbines will also be set back between 700 and 900 feet.
The company spokesman said he understands people’s concerns, but the best advice he can give them is to educate themselves on wind turbines before making any final decisions.
“It is the fear of the unknown,” he said. “They are afraid it will affect their property values and they will be able to hear it. There are a lot of advantages to this project because the profit goes back to Nova Scotians.”
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