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Fretting about wind farms

Within the past decade multi-unit wind farms have become part of the Nova Scotia landscape.

Like alien machines from an H. G. Wells novel, they’ve sprung up from one end of the province to the other – from Port Tupper (11 units) and Lingan (7) in Cape Breton to Digby Neck (20) and Pubnico Point (17) in the south.

Closer to home there’s Dalhousie Mountain in Pictou County (34 units), Glen Dhu in Antigonish County (27) and a new wind farm just outside Amherst (15).

And here in Colchester County there’s a 22-unit wind farm on Nuttby Mountain, plus single unit wind turbines in Brookfield and Spiddle Hill in West Earltown.

It’s a good bet most Nova Scotians favour the arrival of wind farms, too. After all, it’s an inexhaustible green energy source that helps lessen our dependence on coal, oil and gas. What’s not to like?

But a proposal to build two industrial-sized wind turbines in the Harmony-Camden area shows once again that wind turbines are welcome only up to a certain point and that point doesn’t come anywhere near residential backyards.

More than 60 area residents packed Colchester County council chambers last week expressing concerns about the Harmony Community Wind project, which proposes to provide electricity for 1,500 homes with construction planned for 2014.

Their angst is certainly understandable and, in fact, not uncommon.

In 2007, for instance, residents met in North River to discuss noise and health issues regarding the then proposed wind turbines for Nuttby Mountain. In 2011, residents in the vicinity of the Spiddle Hill wind turbine expressed concern over noise and fears of ice throw. Famed singer Anne Murray has spoke out against a proposed wind farm near her cottage along the Northumberland Strait.

It kind of makes one wonder if similar sentiments were expressed when railroads arrived on the scene some 150 years ago or when major highways became commonplace in the 1950s and 1960s.

Yes, it’s hard to fend off progress but as we said in this space five years ago ‘there has to be definitive answers to lingering questions and they must be settled before the first turbine is put in place next door to communities and homes. It’s too late to try and answer questions after they’re already erected.’