May 15, 2012
New Brunswick

Campobello council hears opposition to wind turbine project

by J.D. Rule, The Quoddy Tides,

Welshpool resident Sherry Johnston addressed the Campobello Rural Community Council meeting on April 30, challenging the council to “listen to your citizens” regarding the recent letter of support for the proposed wind turbine near the southern end of Harbour de Lute.

“The vast majority of Welshpoolers and many other islanders oppose a wind turbine,” she contended, citing a list of reasons beginning with threats of damage to “the aesthetic beauty and character of Campobello Island,” which she observed is the first objective in the island’s Rural Plan.

According to Johnston, the proposed turbine will be “less than 200 meters from the closest homes and businesses.” During her presentation she stated, “We will be presenting a fuller presentation giving more details.” In a follow‑up e‑mail, Johnston stated that “we have not decided at this point” when that presentation will take place.

Johnston prefaced her remarks by stating that she was there representing the newly formed “Campobello Heritage Protection Society,” which “seeks to protect the character, history and environment of the island.”

At the conclusion of Johnston’s comments, Councillor Janice Watters outlined a list of objections she had to the proposal, including “Michael Bridges – [turbine proponent] – has not held a public meeting to answer these questions.” Watters closed with, “I move that the letter of October 31 [in support of the project] be rescinded.” Mayor Stephen Smart then said, “There is a motion on the floor. Do I hear a second?” There was none. Watters is not standing for reelection.

Bridges, who lives in Whiting, stated during an e‑mail interview, “We are going to have a town meeting. … All information and [answers to] questions will be provided to the residents of Campobello Island.” Bridges also pointed out that the precise location of the proposed tower has been disclosed only to the engineers hired to conduct tests and that therefore no accurate setback measurements can be provided. He stated that tests have shown the average wind speed at the location to be 8.26 meters per second, and sound tests have confirmed “our turbine could be installed anywhere in Canada.”

“The Campobello government will be getting all information in writing as it comes across my desk; they can release anything that they think is necessary,” said Bridges, adding that no permit applications have been filed so far.

Ownership of the proposed wind turbine will be held by a group of investors, of which Bridges is expected to be a minority member. The total cost is estimated to be around $2.3 million, he said, and funds are included for decommissioning. Bridges confirmed, “We have said we will donate 1‑3% of the gross revenue each and every year for the Campobello community for whatever they see fit.” He added, “And of course we will be one of the biggest tax bases on the island, with very little cost to the community.”

At the conclusion of the April 30 meeting, Councillor Kevin Sawtelle made a motion that “further discussion on the turbine be postponed until information from the building permit application is available.” That motion passed unanimously.

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