CLEAR SPRINGS – P.E.I.’s eastern tip is deliberately being turned into a “wasteland” by a government bent on building a wind farm in the face of landowner opposition, says a group of summer resident landowners.
And those property owners, mostly Americans whose summer cottages will be caught in the wash and shadow of giant wind turbines, want the right as taxpaying citizens to vote on whether the project proceeds.
“As a long-time property owner, I feel my vote needs to be included in the final decision,” said Jean Selines of Norwood, Massachusetts.
She’s a member of the Hermanville-Clear Springs Property Owners Association who say they’ve been left out of the process surrounding the proposed construction of a $60 million 30 megawatt wind farm.
“We want a vote and believe the outcome would be in our favour,’’ says Jack MacDonald of the Boston area.
A summer resident, MacDonald said the group has, at last count, 36 property owners representing over 50 parcels of properties.
“In a democracy, one person gets one vote however Mr. Sheridan is now counting property parcels and not property owners. The government is using fabrication and deceit to get their desired results.”
The property owners say the government should hold a mail-in ballot vote similar to a process used during a general election.
Finance Minister Wes Sheridan is calling the 30 megawatt wind farm here a done deal, although the environmental impact assessment (EIA) released two weeks ago is still being reviewed.
Last December, the minister said more than 70 per cent of the residents in the Hermanville-Clear Springs area want the project. Many who support the project and own land where the wind farm is located will benefit financially with royalty payments.
The province offered $500 payments to landowners who signed agreements to put a hold on the use of their land for five years.
“The environmental impact statement is mere window dressing to give the appearance that the P.E.I. government is following the rules,’’ said MacDonald. “There are many others in nearby communities who will be seriously impacted by noise and lost property values who are against this project.”
The group has reviewed the EIA prepared by AMEC of New Brunswick. They say noise concerns were not sufficiently addressed and research on the affect the wind farm will have on birds and bats is insufficient.
“I support environmental causes and feel that wind power has an appropriate place in the world, but these turbines are not being placed far enough away from homes and businesses,” says cottage owner Marcia Hoodwin of Massachusetts. “They should be no closer than two kilometres. It has been shown that if the turbines are placed too close to homes, people get sick.”
However, the EIA conducted by AMEC and released two weeks ago has a different take on the project.
“We don’t see any significant adverse residual impacts as a result of the project,” said Janet Blackadar, Maritime director for AMEC, which is based in Fredericton. “The mitigation we propose for the project is reasonable and there are no non-standard mitigation measures that have to be put in place.”
Souris and Area Wildlife association president Fred Cheverie offered a few suggestions to the report, but said he basically approved of the effort.
“I read it thoroughly and I’m taking the positive side…my greatest concern was distance from homes, noise levels and the environment,’’ he said. “From what I see, the detriment to migratory birds and even bats should be at a minimum.”
Biologist Morley Pinsent, the P.E.I. member of the AMEC team, said the results are benign and the Island, with little alternatives, needs to access wind power.