KENTVILLE – The door could soon be shut on large-scale wind turbine development in Kings County, at least for now.
The planning advisory committee for the Municipality of the County of Kings has passed a motion recommending further review of wind turbine issues. The committee also recommended that large-scale projects not be permitted in the meantime.
Council has not yet approved the motion. A public meeting has been set for May 10 at 5 p.m. in council chambers.
The existing wind turbine bylaw, which was approved last year and allows large-scale wind turbine development, will be amended to ensure development permits are not issued.
The move comes in response to strong opposition from residents near South and North mountains, areas where two large-scale wind turbine developments have been proposed by Scotian WindFields and Acciona, a large multinational wind farm operator based in Spain.
Both groups of residents have lobbied council and presented petitions to the committee and council.
“We are drafting amendments for a new policy that will replace the existing” one, said Warden Diana Brothers.
There is still a window where a company could apply for a permit until the amendments take effect, Brothers said.
Before changes can be put in place, the proposed amendments must be advertised, a public meeting must be held, and council must approve first and second readings.
That process would take until May 24, according to the process the county has planned.
The changes would stall any applications for permits until a full review is completed, Dick Killam, councillor for part of the North Mountain area, said in an interview Saturday.
“If everything goes accordingly, permits would no longer be able to be issued as of May 24,” said Killam.
He lives in Halls Harbour and opposes the proposal for a wind farm on North Mountain that could see 20 to 30 large-scale wind turbines from Arlington to the West Black Rock Road.
Killam made the motion to the committee to change the bylaw and put permits on hold.
“That was my worry, that somebody would come in the back door and there would be nothing we could do to stop it. There was a definite sigh of relief after that meeting. The key thing was making sure nobody got in under the old policy. Now we just have to make to it May 24.”
The amendments to the bylaws would put off large-scale wind development for as long as council is reviewing the issue, he said.
Residents of North Mountain presented a petition to county officials with over 1,000 names opposing the Acciona development. The residents also asked that any wind turbine policy include a 2.5-kilometre setback from any home, a move that could effectively kill many wind farm proposals.
The setback under the existing policy is 700 metres.
Many councillors are concerned about the proposed developments, Killam said.
“I think the majority of us want to do the right thing. It’s a huge issue.”
A recent health and safety report on wind turbines commissioned by council highlighted several uncertainties, he said.
“There are new things coming out all the time in relation to the negative aspects.”
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