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Wind farm open house at Wandlyn

AMHERST – A company hoping to build wind turbines on the marsh met its public last night. The Wandlyn Inn was the scene of an open house hosted by EDF EN Canada. The company hopes to win an RFP and build 16 to 30 wind turbines.

“We’re looking to submit up to 50 megawatts,” said Stephane Desdunes, a development manager with the company.

The number of turbines needed to generate that much power would depend on the technology they implemented, he said.

“We have over 4,000 acres of land signed,” he said. The area starts west of the highway, beyond the existing Sprott installation, and extends to the other side of the highway and inland.

“We looked at several sites,” said Desdunes, but the marsh had the “right combination” of factors. The project has not been approved, and requires approval from a number of government agencies before moving ahead.

Desdunes said he wants to hear from critics of the project, and assessing visual and noise impacts are part of the bidding process.

David Wightman is a critic of wind turbines in the proposed location.

“It’s a song and dance,” he said of the open house.

Wightman accepted property owners have a right to do what they want with their land “to a certain extent” but likened building 90-metre turbine towers to second-hand smoke.

They have a visual impact beyond the borders of private properties.

He expressed concerns about the impact the installation, called the Yorkshire Wind Project, would have on wildlife, such as moose, as well as his fear the visual effect of so many moving blades may harm people such as himself, who’ve suffered strokes.

“I think it’s great,” said Wilson Smith, an Amherst resident, of the proposed wind farm. “We’re fossil fuelling ourselves to death.”

Energy officer Shauna Eason, from CREDA, said “it’s local economic development, so it’s helpful.”

Jim Atkinson, who has as many as 1,400 acres available to EDF, said the people paying property taxes should have priority. The view of the marsh people enjoy is actually a free view of his property, he argued.

“That Mountie station (wind turbine) … make(s) more noise,” he said.

EDF’s Desdunes said they’re aware there are people worried about the visual impact of turbines.

“We will definitely sit down with Amherst,” he said.

Desdunes will be making a presentation to the town June 18.

The RFP is due June 15, with a decision expected by the end of summer. If EDF EN Canada gets the go ahead, and receives approvals from N.S. Power, the Department of the Environment and UARB, construction would begin in 2014, with the turbines operational in January 2015.