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Friends of South Canoe appeal wind farm decision

NEW ROSS – The Friends of South Canoe have filed an appeal with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board in regards to the South Canoe Wind Farm, which, once completed, would be the province’s largest.

Council approved the project on March 14 after several public hearings and various other public information sessions. If built the wind farm would include 34 turbines on land between New Russell and Vaughan.

The approval of the wind farm by council was met with much disapproval by the Friends of South Canoe, who protested the 1.2-kilometre turbine setbacks as well as the many unknowns regarding possible health side-effects.

It was largely on that basis the appeal was filed.

“Despite the large numbers of citizens that spoke out, particularly from the communities most impacted, the mountains of information forwarded to councillors and the fact that even Health Canada has undertaken an initiative to investigate the health concerns at wind turbine sites across the country, the council chose to ignore this information as well as their own policies in the Municipal Planning Strategy which would have protected their community and alleviated the concerns, and instead, chose to go for the cash,” said Emery Peters, spokesman for Friends of South Canoe.

Warden Allen Webber said the municipality will be prepared to defend its decision to build the wind farm along with partners Minas Basin Pulp and Power and Oxford Frozen Foods.

No date for the hearing has yet been scheduled. A conference call was scheduled between the involved groups on April 8 to discuss the hearing.

In the meantime the project will essentially be put on hold.

“Well, I think it’s a question of how much risk Minas Basin wants to take,” Warden Webber said. “They likely won’t be ordering the turbines, which is a fairly critical piece, because that’s $100 million. Now, whether they decide to go ahead and do some road and site improvements while this process is unfolding, I don’t know.”

Mr. Peters said there are simply too many unknowns regarding health concerns. He maintains the group stance that this is not an opposition to wind farms or wind power, rather an opposition to the proximity of homes.

“I think it remains important that it be noted the Friends of South Canoe remain committed to ensuring that all the scientific and factual data that is out there be used to determine setbacks in order to protect people’s health and mitigate impacts on property values,” he said. “Neither ourselves or the councillors are experts in this field and the developer has a biased perspective.

“The options open to the council were to establish a committee mandated to oversee an independent study, exercise the precautionary principle and pick a setback of three to five kilometres or wait for the Health Canada study addressing this very issue. Instead we feel that the municipality unreasonably took the developer’s proposal and did nothing.”

The Friends of South Canoe appeal isn’t the only one filed. Local landowner and real estate mogul Richard Homburg has also filed an appeal, but the reasons for his appeal have yet to be publicized.