TRURO – Two industrial-sized wind turbines proposed for the Harmony-Camden area are meeting with strong opposition from local residents, in large part because of a lack of communication from the proponents for the project.
“It’s not just the way they treat us,” resident Deborah Smith told Colchester County Council Thursday night.
“I’ll take them treating us poorly,” she said, of the company officials involved. “We want to protect our homes.”
Smith was one of about 65 men, women and children from the area who packed the council chambers to deliver an impassioned plea of requesting an “immediate emergency sitting” with council in the hopes of seeking protection against the project.
The proposal to develop a 4.4-megawatt community wind project is a partnership established in May between the Eskasoni Coroporate Division and the German-owned company, juwi Wind Canada and Community Wind Farms of Mahone Bay.
The Harmony Community Wind project proposes to provide electricity for 1,500 homes with construction planned for 2014.
But Smith and others who spoke to council about the project said there are too many unanswered questions surrounding the project, including where they would be sited, and an uncaring attitude from those involved about potential health concerns or suspected depreciated market value for homes in the vicinity if it is to proceed.
“They are getting the economic benefit of this and what are we getting?” she adked.
Area residents described two recent community meetings with company officials as being “volatile,” and said their questions were met “with very few answers” and their concerns are not being recognized Smith said.
“At that initial meeting, with over 60 attendees, the developer was asked, ‘what rights do we as residents have regarding whether or not we want this?’ The developer simply stated ‘we will go where ever the wind is,’” she told council.
Smith also said the company has not been forthcoming on which property the turbines will be located and while that information has not publicly been disclosed, one audience member suggested the land in question belongs to Northern Pulp.
The residents asked council to halt the granting of any license for the project until more information is available or residents can have their concerns put to rest.
“We have come to ask for your help, leadership and guidance in protecting our community and the rural residents of Colchester,” Smith said.
The company has yet to apply for a license from the municipality but a staff member told council representatives have held discussions with the county’s development officer.
The residents stressed that they are not against the principle of wind power development, they just want to be assured any turbines are placed far enough away from their homes to ease their concerns.
“All we could really get is really vague answers to anything,” Smith said.
If the residents are indeed being treated in the fashion communicated to council, Councillor Bill Masters said, he would be “very leary” about providing his support for future approval.
Other councillors expressed similar sentiment.
“I think we got the message loud and clear,” Mayor Bob Taylor told the group, prior to receiving the presentation for discussion at a future committee meeting.