The mainland moose has derailed a proposed Cumberland County wind farm.
Shear Wind Inc., a Bedford wind developer, says it abandoned plans to seek provincial approval for a 50-megawatt project at Canaan Mountain, near Parrsboro, after government officials said a three-year moose-monitoring program would be needed.
“With this requirement, the timeline for the project could not meet the commercial operation date deadline of the request for proposals,” the company said in a securities filing last week.
Mike Magnus, Shear Wind’s president and chief executive officer, said Monday the company was “surprised and disappointed” to find out about the moose issue 10 days before the bid deadline.
“After assessing the time risks, we were not in a position to put up a $1-million deposit, be awarded a (contract) and then find out certain potential restrictions could impact our delivery obligations or forfeit our deposit,” he said in an email.
The wind farm would be located in a part of Cumberland County that contains habitat for the mainland moose, an endangered species.
Shear Wind had option agreements to lease 2,200 hectares of land for the project. It had also completed about 80 per cent of the work needed to register for a provincial environmental assessment.
Shear Wind, which is being sold to Sprott Power Corp. of Toronto as part of a deal announced last week, did submit a bid to expand its Glen Dhu wind farm in Pictou County but wasn’t successful.
The province’s renewable electricity administrator awarded contracts to three wind farms in Lunenburg and Guysborough counties.
The winning projects, which will be operational by January 2015, were among 19 proposals submitted to the independent administrator.
An Environment Department spokeswoman said government officials didn’t give Shear Wind a three-year time frame for the moose study.
“These proponents were informed that they would have to have a good mitigation plan and that they might need to do some contingent monitoring after the approval process had been complete, that we would want to see how they intended to deal with the mainland moose,” Lori Errington said. “That’s what they were told.”
She said the company could have registered the project for environmental approval, and possibly received the OK from Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau, without having finished the moose monitoring.
“It’s the norm for staff to provide guidance through the process before it even begins to flag issues that may require more detailed study or action by the proponent,” Errington said.
“If an issue is flagged involving wildlife, we work with Natural Resources to identify the risk and provide advice on next steps.”
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