WEST EARLTOWN – Forget the attraction of owning beachfront property.
Pamela and Wayne Edgar are quite content, thank you very much, living among the trees and hills surrounding their neat homestead in what is normally a quiet community near the North Shore.
Unfortunately, however, things aren’t quite as calm as they used to be, the couple say, and their once idyllic surroundings have been somewhat disturbed of late.
“The attraction of the quiet is gone,” Pamela says, while expressing her concerns about wind turbines that have sprung up on two sides of the couple’s property on Spiddle Hill Road near Earltown.
“As they are now it’s not enough to make me move but I think I would be much more forward in protesting an expansion,” she said, of any future plans to add turbines to either the Nuttby Mountain wind farm on one side of their property or the far smaller operation of Colchester-Cumberland Windfield, which is located up and behind them atop Spiddle Hill.
The Spiddle Hill operation currently only consists of one, 800-megawatt turbine, though plans are in the works for two more windmills – a 200-megawatt turbine and another 800-megawatt unit.
That site sits 2.5 kms away behind the Edgar’s home and is not even visible from their property.
Across the road and up over the hills in the opposite direction, however, is the location of Nova Scotia Power’s 22-turbine wind farm on Nuttby Mountain. The nearest turbine from that operation is also 2.5 kms from the Edgar home and some of those windmills are visible to them.
The visibility aspect, though, is not the issue.
“It’s complicated,” Wayne says, while attempting to describe the couple’s plight. “It depends on wind direction, wind speed, ambient sound, if the trees are blowing and what not, if the trees are rattling around and other factors in terms of geography. Sometimes the wind will funnel (the sound down through their garden), … depends on where you are situated,” he says, of the single Spiddle Hill turbine.
“It’s not highly impactful that way. These ones on the other hand,” he adds of the Nuttby turbines, “in a strong south, southwest wind, you can hear them. It’s the whoosh, whoosh and the thump thump.”
On some days, the Edgars can forget the turbines exist at all. On other days, however, they, and some of their neighbours the couple say, are all too aware of the presence of the throbbing windmills.
“About three or four days last week, it was like a dryer running in the next room. It even bothered my ears,” Pamela says, because of pressure created by allergy-related congestion in her sinuses.
“I mean, I don’t say that very much to people because they just think it’s all in your head,” she adds.
“It’s like a low-flying aircraft sometimes. Like, it was a dryer the other day. It was constant and other times it’s like an airplane flying overhead, except it doesn’t move. It just stays there.”
Wayne says he can hear the turbines at times but is not impacted in the same way his wife is.
“Which is the other thing,” he says. “The reactions to it are individual as well.”
Pamela compares the feeling in another sense to the way some people react to florescent lights.
“Some people don’t notice and other people have to turn them off. They can’t stand that humming noise that goes with it,” she says.
To further complicate matters, perhaps, the Edgars are both supporters of wind turbine development as a greener source of generating electricity than through the burning of fossil fuels.
Like a number of her neighbours, Pamela is even a shareholder in Colchester-Cumberland Windfield and the couple say they have no desire to create hard feelings among the close-knit community.
“We think it’s a great idea,” Pamela says generally of wind turbine development. “But we had no idea of the impacts because we had no experience.”
“We now have a bunch of people up here that have direct experience … and all we’re trying to do here is say this is what’s happening to us.
“It’s good people involved and you don’t want to set neighbour against neighbour. It’s just to find a way to talk about it and make decisions about where it goes that doesn’t take away from somebody’s ability to enjoy their property but also does allow for some development of alternate forms of energy.”
And that is the point of why they are sharing their experience of dealing with the effects created by wind turbines.
“We took a long time before we wanted to speak up because it is a delicate thing in the community,” Pamela said.
To that end, the couple believes more time and effort needs to be expended when sites are being considered for wind turbine development.
Resident concerns should also be taken seriously regarding setback distances, they believe. Even at 2.5 kms from the nearest turbine, they know how the wind farms have impacted their lives.
And while Wayne believes setbacks shouldn’t necessarily need to be that great, the 700 metres currently allowed under the Municipality of Colchester’s wind farm bylaw is insufficient, he says.
“We don’t want to see this happen to anyone else,” Wayne said. “We think it’s critical that the setbacks be greater. Seven hundred metres is not adequate.”