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Residents want further setbacks, public consultation for large-scale wind turbines  

Credit:  Kirk Starratt, The Register/Advertiser, www.kingscountynews.ca 17 January 2012 ~~

Greenfield and area residents are concerned about a test tower erected by a Nova Scotia wind consortium without a permit from the municipality.

“We’re mounting opposition to it on a number of fronts,” said Peck Meadow Road resident Brett Miner. “There’s lots of evidence common setbacks aren’t enough.”

He said residents are worried over what a permanent tower could mean for the community. Some of the concerns relate to noise, potential health risks, poor esthetics, reduced property values and long-term community viability.

Although his property is more than a kilometre from the site, he said there are several homes that could be within the minimum setback of 700 m.

Miner said studies have shown property values could decrease by 25 to 40 per cent within a three-kilometre radius of an industrial wind turbine.

Another concern is, under Kings County’s current bylaw, large-scale wind turbines would be allowed as-of-right if the proponent meets requirements. Miner pointed out the test tower went in without public consultation and residents would have appreciated knowing beforehand.

“It’s nice to stand up and say your piece but the bylaw needs teeth,” Miner said. “If the majority in the neighbourhood say no, it doesn’t go.”

He said residents aren’t against wind power, but are against putting an industrial strength wind turbine in a neighbourhood. With the province’s green energy mandate and the community feed-in tariffs program offering financial incentives, Miner said wind developers “know the time is right.”

Andrew Steeves, who lives at the western end of Peck Meadow Road, said he’s worried the county’s setbacks are insufficient and wind turbine developments, like the one proposed for Greenfield, will have a negative impact on residents and surrounding landowners.

Steeves said he worries the provincial government is rushing ahead with a green agenda greener in name than reality. “Green” is about ecology and the way organisms relate to each other and their physical surroundings, he said.

“To drop a wind turbine into a community without proper regard for the residents wellbeing or a solid understanding of its broader impact is not green at all,” he said. “It’s courting disaster.”

Steeves said he thinks this issue will affect the whole county and needs everyone’s attention. He said generating electricity with the sort of tower proposed is an industrial activity. Both the county and province appear to be encouraging these industrial scale wind turbines, he said, and putting the development of this alternative energy resource above the livelihoods and wellbeing of rural residents.

“The question, as I see it, is who is this process and these setbacks in service of: the residents or the developers?” Steeves asked. “They need to get their priorities straight and do this right.”

He isn’t interested in debating studies because both wind developers and detractors tend to emphasize the facts that back their views. Steeves isn’t sure there is enough data to say anything conclusive about the potential negative impacts of wind turbines on communities. He knows both the county and province have a responsibility to protect the wellbeing of their citizens and expects this means taking an extremely cautious approach to wind developments.

Steeves said, as a rural resident, he sometimes feels like urban-based planners, regulators and developers simply view rural neighbourhoods as one giant resource to be exploited for their convenience. Many rural residents understand the idea of ecology and taking care of the land and community in a first-hand way.

Rural residents have also witnessed the way consumption and development has indifferently altered the rural landscape during the past century. Examples include the massive reconfiguration of the Gaspereau and Black River watershed for hydro-electrical generation in the 1930s and aggressive, and often devastating, logging practices such as clearcutting.

“The only way to do this right is to ensure that these wind turbines need to be many kilometres away from rural homes, not mere metres,” he said.

Source:  Kirk Starratt, The Register/Advertiser, www.kingscountynews.ca 17 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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