NEW ROSS – The man who represents a group of people who own property near a proposed New Ross-area wind farm says the project “is ripping this community apart.”
Emery Peters gave an impassioned closing argument Wednesday as a provincial Utility and Review Board hearing into the appeal of the South Canoe wind farm wrapped up.
Peters presented the case for the Friends of South Canoe Lake at the five-day hearing.
He said his group is not against wind farms.
“We want development, but we will not sacrifice our community.”
The group wants Municipality of the District of Chester councillors to look out for the community’s best interests, he said, adding that he doesn’t believe council had enough information to do that when it approved the project.
The $200-million wind farm would have 34 turbines, making it the province’s largest in terms of size and power generation.
Three people testified on the hearing’s first day about the negative effects they experienced living near or visiting turbines.
“This is not a theory. This is not a model. This is the real effect of living near the turbine,” Peters said. “These are real things. These are not theories. These are facts. These are things that are going on.”
People all over the world are getting sick from wind turbines, but that is not reflected in any environmental assessments because there are no studies to support these complaints, Peters said.
“We have, from the beginning, tried to make it clear we want to be protected. We want to make sure it’s done right. … We didn’t tell council we didn’t want them to do it. There’s been a concerted effort to leave the impression it’s us and them. It’s not us and them.”
Homburg Land Bank also appealed the approval. The company owns a golf course and country club next the site and its owner has a summer home there.
Company lawyer Michael O’Hara said Chester council “utterly failed” by minimizing the effect of emissions on properties and failing to consider future development.
“They did not consider, in the least, the loss of development potential and property value to all of the lands around that site.”
O’Hara said Chester’s municipal planning strategy requires council to minimize the impact of developmnet emissions on properties. “It’s not even looked at the issue.”
The developers’ lawyer, Robert Grant, said that is not true.
He said councillors had information on the effects of wind farms on property values and the impact was “evaluated as being low.”
Grant, who represents Nova Scotia Power Inc., Minas Basin Pulp and Power Ltd. and Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd., said “the evidence of the environmental assessment is unrefuted,” and that the provincial environment minister approved the project based on scientific studies examining emissions.
The residents’ evidence “is largely anecdotal,” Grant said, and “falls far short of establishing health and safety hazards” or refuting the soundness of the minister’s approval.
Residents are protected because “the development agreement really gives the municipality the opportunity to put the screws to the developer” by cancelling the project and forcing it to shut down if the proponents fail to rectify concerns or misrepresent information, he said.
O’Hara said his client believes it is “a good thing” that the project would bring “significant income” to the municipality, and his client supports renewable energy.
“However, this municipality cannot sidestep its municipal planning strategy.”
Homburg would like the developer to move the turbine that neighbours its property so that it can build a second golf course, but it was “rebuffed in those discussions,” he said.
Grant said Homburg never told council of its plans for a second course until after the project was approved, nor did it show up at any public hearings, despite being invited.
He contended Homburg’s plans “only appear as a matter of convenience in connection with this appeal,” and that it has no sketches, has not consulted a designer and, by its own admission, is looking for the European economy to improve.
In addition, the land in question has been clearcut.
The board has 60 days to file its decision.
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