KENTVILLE – The public will get another chance to have its say on development of large-scale wind turbines in Kings County.
Open houses have been scheduled, a website survey is underway and a study will soon be launched to examine the health and environmental implications, Warden Diana Brothers said Tuesday.
“We want to make sure we do this right,” Brothers said in an interview at her Kentville office. “We had very little public input the first time around.”
The Municipality of the County of Kings passed a wind turbine bylaw regulating large-scale developments last year after a series of public meetings and consultations. But the municipality decided to review the bylaw, which has never been tested, after opposition to a test tower recently erected in the Greenfield area, south of Wolfville.
“We did have a public input process,” Brothers said. “When you do a public consultation process across the county, it’s hard to reach everyone.”
Council is not against the development of wind turbines, she said. The county’s planning strategy states that it will “promote the development of large-scale wind turbines.”
“But people are very passionate about this issue and they have questions that we just can’t answer,” Brothers said. “So to give it the respect that it needs, we have committed to do this full review of the current bylaw.
“Regardless what happens at the end of the day, at least the opportunity was given and we will have professionals who will be able to give us the answers that we need to make our decision. . . . That’s the whole intent of this review.”
Residents of Greenfield and the surrounding area recently presented council with a petition with almost 400 names opposing Scotian WindFields’ 60-metre test tower off Peck Meadow Road.
Citizens are concerned about noise, potential health risks, lower property values and the minimum setback of 700 metres from the nearest house if permanent towers are erected. They are also worried the new bylaw doesn’t allow public input into specific wind projects.
If an application meets the criteria laid out in the existing bylaw, the development may proceed by right. Residents are angry the test tower was erected without community input or knowledge.
In addition to agreeing to open up the consultation stage again, council approved spending up to $25,000 to research the health and environmental implications of large-scale wind turbines.
Brothers said there are no applications on the books for large-scale wind turbine developments.
But Scotian WindFields told council last week that the company is interested in possible projects in Greenfield, White Rock and the Wolfville Ridge area.
In a letter to council, Black River Road resident Warren Peck said the province’s push for renewable energy “is creating serious adverse effects on rural residents and is causing these residents to call for respect and ethical treatment.”
Rural residents support renewable energy efforts, Peck said.
“How these projects are implemented is the major issue.”
Greenfield resident Bret Miner, who lives about a kilometre from the test tower, said in a recent interview that he is happy the county committed to the review. But Miner said residents want to make sure the county gets unbiased scientific information.
“We’re going to keep pursuing the county to make sure the next bylaw meets what we would expect from a municipal government.”
People need more input into what kind of developments take place in their communities, he said.
The first open house will be held today at the White Rock Community Centre from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The second is March 7 at the South Berwick Community Centre.
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The survey deadline is March 16.
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