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Province says no to wind moratorium

AMHERST – The province isn’t likely to issue any moratorium on the development of wind projects in Nova Scotia, says Energy Minister Charlie Parker.

Responding to a letter sent to Premier Darrell Dexter by Amherst Mayor Robert Small asking him to slow down the development of wind farms until a Health Canada study is completed, Parker said the process for large turbine projects is under the auspices of the renewable electricity administrator and is independent of the Department of Energy.

“We welcome the Health Canada study and any information that may be made available through that study, but at the same time as long as there proper setbacks the best advice we have is there is no definitive proof or scientific evidence that it’s harmful to people’s health,” Parker said. “We’re trying to get away from the harmful effects of burning coal, which is far more harmful to people’s health.”

The province expects use green energy, including wind, to generate as much as 40 per cent of Nova Scotia’s electricity by 2020.

“Our goal is to produce cleaner, greener energy and that’s the direction we’re headed in,” Parker said.

In his letter to the premier, Mayor Small expressed concern with the potential impacts of several wind projects planned for the Amherst area. While the town supports wind power, the mayor said there are concerns about having proper setbacks and he wants future projects delayed until the Health Canada study is complete.

Health Canada’s study will explore the relationship between wind turbine noise and health effects reported by, and objectively measured in, people living near wind power developments.

Submissions for that study are being accepted until Sept. 7

The study findings are expected to be published in 2014.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association is not in favour a moratorium because the balance of scientific and medical evidence to date clearly concludes that sound from wind turbines does not adversely impact human health.

“The vast majority of Canadians choose wind energy as a top source for clean and safe new electricity. When discussing an issue as important as our energy future we must look at the facts,” association vice-president communications Chris Forrest said. “It is clear that the balance of research and experience to date – including hundreds of thousands of people living and working near wind turbines in 89 countries around the world – concludes that wind energy does not adversely impact human health.”

Forrest said these conclusions are backed by a growing body of work, including reports by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, the National Public Health Institute in Quebec and most recently by an expert panel report to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Department of the Environment.

“Wind energy is broadly understood to be one of the safest and most environmentally friendly forms of electricity generation around the world. The wind energy industry is working collaboratively with all levels of government and stakeholders to ensure jobs, investments and affordable clean energy continue flowing into communities across the country,” Forrest said. “A moratorium would prevent thousands of individuals, landowners and dozens of municipalities and First Nations groups from participating in the clean energy economy.”