NORTH SYDNEY – The province is allowing Natural Forces Wind Inc. to proceed with its plans for a two-turbine wind farm project on Boularderie Island.
Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau released the decision Friday, following a review of information provided by the wind company on the four-megawatt project, as well as information collected during government and public consultations of an environmental assessment.
“We’ve listened to the public and we wanted them to submit an environment protection plan to the province for this and the condition to monitor and mitigate any impacts on wildlife,” said Belliveau.
“They are typical of some of these approvals.”
Among the other conditions attached to the environmental approval are that Natural Forces must develop and implement a program to monitor for birds and bats, sound modelling and a shadow flicker assessment.
The company must monitor noise under varying climatic conditions in order to ensure that noise levels do not exceed 40 decibles.
The company must also develop a plan to engage the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia to discuss any impacts on traditional Mi’kmaq resources.
“What we are seeing now is the Department of Environment just being a little bit more specific on the conditions, which is good because it is providing clarity on exactly what is required,” said Andy MacCallum, vice-president of developments for Natural Forces Wind Inc.
The construction of the wind farm on privately leased farmland has created a debate about the need for renewable energy and the potential costs to the environment and health that some say can be directly linked to the proximity of homes to wind turbines.
The Hillside Boularderie and Area Concerned Citizens’ Group was created to bring concerns to the forefront and ask why the community wasn’t given greater say into where the turbines would be located.
At a height of approximately 140 metres, the next-generation wind turbines to be built on Boularderie Island will stand as tall as a 40-storey office building. The closest home will be just over one kilometre away.
The distance between the turbine and the nearest building increases by 30 centimetres for every extra 30 cm in height to a turbine greater than 76 metres in height.
The group wants the municipality to consider extending its 175-metre current setback to a radius of two kilometres or more.
Belliveau reiterated that the province has listened to the concerns of residents
“There’s been a lot of discussion on this, but to me there is the opportunity to do economic development, create jobs in the area and to move towards cleaner, renewable energy.”
He said noise levels recommended by Health Canada and municipal land-use bylaws were all taken into consideration.
“The public has the right to voice their concerns, but again we have to make a decision to balance that in the best interest of all Nova Scotians and there are a number of these projects across our province. The community speaks, but yet we have to make sure we are there to protect the environment and help the entire population also.”
MacCallum said engineering and design work still must be completed and road construction is expected to begin in the fall
He isn’t sure if opposition to the project will end, but said Natural Forces will continue to work with the community and residents who are opposed to it.
“The project won’t be up and running until another year, so there is still a lot of public consultation we’d like to do and further try to address some of the concerns that some of the residents have. Even though you have (environmental) approval by no means does that mean you have to stop consultation. It is an ongoing process.”
He said they’ll start sending out newsletters over the next few months to update people on the project and give them an idea of what construction might look like.
There will also be an environmental management plan and a complaint procedure, he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding