May 19, 2012
Nova Scotia

County council votes to rescind large-scale wind turbine bylaw

By Kirk Starratt | The Register/Advertiser | 19 May 2012

There will soon be no mechanism for wind developers to apply for permits for large-scale wind turbines in Kings County.

County council gave first reading at a special meeting May 15 to rescind the current bylaw, established just last year, which allows such turbines as-of-right so long as certain criteria is met.

Although some councillors and members of the public are confused over multiple planning initiatives that are seemingly unfolding in an overlapping or simultaneous way, the next process could see a moratorium established on a planning reviewing of the matter.

“This is a smoke and mirrors game with the public. We’re promising something that we can’t uphold,” Coun. Patricia Bishop said. “The amount of misinformation we’re sharing around the table is mindboggling.”

A full gallery at the council chambers in Kentville had to wait for about 40 minutes while council held an in-camera session with the municipal solicitor before coming out to debate the motions recommended by the Planning Advisory Committee. Council voted unanimously to give first reading to rescinding the bylaw.

A second motion referred the matter of the five-year moratorium back to planning advisory for further review. Another public process would be needed for planning amendments, indicating council doesn’t intend to conduct a planning review on the matter for five years. This would allow time for thorough exploration of concerns surrounding large-scale wind energy.

Bishop said she felt ill over everything happening that evening. She said council has communicated to the public they could rescind the current bylaw and continue the ongoing review of large-scale wind turbine regulations. With the current scenario, the only way to actually conduct a review or establish a new bylaw would be if council initiates it. If they didn’t want a bylaw, they wouldn’t initiate the process.

Coun. Wayne Atwater cautioned anyone thinking about building a house in areas of the county where large-scale wind projects have been proposed not to do so for the next six months. Things could change after the October municipal elections if new members are voted onto council.

“The only protection we can give these people is to guarantee for the next six months there will be no large-scale wind turbines,” Atwater said. “It’s a complete waste of time to talk about it.”

Coun. Fred Whalen said he thinks the moratorium would send a poor message that the county is totally closed for business.

“I won’t be supporting the moratorium because it really doesn’t hold any authority,” Whalen said. “If we pass it, it still means nothing.”

Warden Diana Brothers said it’s been her experience a new council honours the initiatives of past councils. She’ll be speaking in favour of the moratorium at planning advisory.

Coun. Dick Killam said he doesn’t see the need for the additional planning process. However, he doesn’t think council can rush ahead and allow large-scale wind development to happen.

“We know what this has done to our communities that would be directly affected by wind turbines,” he said. “The public wants a ban. They told us loud and clear what they want to see.”

Killam said CFB Greenwood has raised concerns over radar interference and Health Canada has only started to delve into so-called infrasound issues surrounding large-scale wind turbines.

The council debate ended with a round of applause from concerned citizens on hand. Planning manager Ben Sivak said as soon as the public hearing for the bylaw rescinding is advertised, no permits would be issued for large-scale wind turbines. The second motion will go to planning advisory at a later date, not this month.

The public hearing is scheduled for June 20 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.

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