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Easy access granted for Pugwash wind farm by county council

UPPER NAPPAN – A roadblock towards building the Pugwash wind farm was removed during Cumberland County Council’s regular meeting Wednesday at the E.D. Fullerton municipal building in Upper Nappan.

Council passed a motion for a license agreement allowing Atlantic Wind Power Corporation to use a road to access a proposed wind farm in the Gulf Shore area.

“It’s a license agreement. We’re not selling it (the road) to anybody or renting it to anybody,” said Keith Hunter, warden for Cumberland County. “We already did the same for Sprott Power on the marsh because we have a right-of-way to our septic system and they wanted to use the same right-of-way to get to their lands, so we allowed them to do that.

“This is the same sort of thing,” added Hunter. “If we were not to allow Charles Dumond (AWPC president) to do that down in Pugwash, he has an alternate route, but he would have to spend a lot more money to build the alternate route.”

Three of the 10 councilors voted against the motion – District 9 councilor John Reid, District 6 councilor Kathy Redmond, and District 8 councilor Ernest Gilbert.

District 4 councilor Alison Gillis was not present at the council meeting.

AWPC will have free access to the road and that doesn’t sit well with Reid.

“I think it was an opportunity for the municipality to get some revenue,” said Reid. “If they can pay $6,000 a year for space for one turbine, then they should pay some money for the roadway they’ll be leasing for 25 years. That’s money that could have gone towards sports and recreation or community development.

“I don’t think we should have done it on a whim and done it for nothing.”

Asked if he thinks the license was rammed through the ratification process, Reid said, “In Joggins there were individuals who wanted to see what can be done with the old Joggins campground area and they (council) wouldn’t even entertain that unless it went through CREDA (Cumberland Regional Development Authority) for their opinion on what the land can be used for. This didn’t go through that process at all.

“I think it’s been given high priority and not given the same treatment as any other lease project the county would go through,” he added. “I’m not opposed to the wind farm or even the road, I just think it should go through a different process, and it was an opportunity missed for the county to make a little revenue.”

Redmond echoed what Reid said, and added that she is not opposed to wind farms.

“I’m not taking one side or the other with regards to turbines,” said Redmond. “They have another way to access the property and I didn’t think it was appropriate for the county to start entering into a lot of different right-of-ways on county property – now if they want to buy it, that’s a different story.

“It’s not up to the county to grant right-of-ways, and if you grant a right-of-way it means you can never sell that piece of property,” she added.

The project has encountered stiff opposition from many residents living near the Gulf Shore and Redmond said, “I didn’t like to see the county enter into a right-of-way agreement with a turbine here.”

Hunter said many people don’t want turbines in their own back yard.

“Most people are in favour of wind power. The only people who aren’t are the ones who don’t want it in their backyard, yet they don’t mind putting it in somebody else’s back yard,” said Hunter. “We are in favour of wind power and that is a contentious issue down there (Gulf Shore) because some of the residents don’t want it, but we’ve already done it for Sprott, so it’s pretty hard to say no when it’s the same kind of agreement.”

AWPC recently cleared a big hurdle when their proposal received environmental approval.

The province of Nova Scotia recently asked for requests for proposals for 100 megawatts of power. 19 bids were issued, and as many as six of those bids came from Cumberland County.

“There’s 100 megawatts available for the whole province,” said Hunter. “We in Cumberland County have 31.6 per cent of the proposals going in for the whole province, and I know two of those proposals are for 50 megawatts each.”

The public announcement for the winning proposals is planned for early August but the bidders will be notified July 19 on whether or not they won the contract.

“It will only be them who is notified (on July 19)” said Hunter. “It won’t be the municipality.”

Wind turbines are one part of Cumberland County’s green energy strategy.

“We have a green energy committee and the membership on that committee is the Town of Springhill, the Town of Parrsboro and the County of Cumberland,” said Hunter. “We’re trying to promote green energy. Not only is that wind power, but it’s geothermal in the Springhill area, tidal in the Parrsboro area and solar and wind power all over the county, and biomass is another one.”

Hunter said the long-term strategy is to have two green energy industrial parks – one in the Springhill area and the other in the Parrsboro area.