SALMON RIVER – A public meeting this week regarding a wind turbine project for Greenfield and Lower Harmony quickly turned into a verbal confrontation between the developer and community residents.
Reuben Burge, president of Affinity and developer of the local wind turbine project, set aside two hours at the Salmon River fire hall on Monday night to discuss 44 questions from the public that have been answered and posted online at www.rmsenergy.ca
He refused to answer questions posed at the meeting until the end; that didn’t sit well with most of the 70 people in attendance. Some walked out within a half an hour after hearing Burge intended to leave after two hours, regardless if there was time to answer questions from the floor. Burge ultimately stayed until 9:50 p.m.
One unidentified woman yelled, “we want you to answer our questions. We didn’t come here for this foolishness.”
“I feel like I’m being ignored,” Harmony Ridge resident George Thomas, who loudly insisted during the meeting the formal presentation be skipped, told the Truro Daily News.
Thomas said he wanted to talk about possible side effects for people who suffer from air sickness or migraines and the impacts wind turbines could have on pets.
Burge said many of the questions people were shouting out during his talk were answered in the presentation, if they would only listen to him.
“I’m answering the questions given to me by the public,” he said.
For example, regarding pets, Burge said in the presentation, “there is no scientific evidence to suggest that wind turbines could harm domestic animals. Wild animals are assessed for potential impact in the environmental assessment.”
Lower Harmony’s Claudia Leclerc lives 1.5 km from the intended wind turbines. She told this paper she was “frustrated” with the meeting.
“We are spending the whole night answering questions on a website; we may have our own questions. I’m not at all surprised and I’m frustrated,” Leclerc said.
Leclerc said she was concerned about use of the Johnson Road as the project’s access road, which is close to her home, because it “will bring farm businesses and traffic close to me. It’s dirty and that dirt and noise will increase.”
During one of many verbal battles between Burge and the public, one woman spoke up to say she hadn’t seen all the information on the website and wanted to hear the presentation.
“(Residents) didn’t give him a chance,” Greenfield’s Tanya Turple told the Truro Daily News near the end of the evening.
“They walked in with negative attitudes. I’m for this (project) … it’s clean, renewable energy and we should be using this.”
Greenfield’s Heather Collicott is also in favour of the turbines.
“I’m excited about this project,” she said at the meeting, adding she can hear work at a nearby lumber mill and other sounds in the area and that “washers and dryers make more noise than the turbines will.”
Some of the topics Burge discussed in the presentation included concerns with “flickering” or shadows on residences by the turbines blades. He said some houses may see that for one hour during sunrise and sunset.
“There will be no noise or health issues whatsoever,” added Burge, a Mount Thom resident.
“We are doing good,” Burge said, referring to renewable energy and a partnership Affinity has with the Nova Society Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
“Not much can be said to make to make me feel bad” about the turbine project, Burge said near the end of the meeting.
Many people were not in agreement with Burge’s assessment. Colchester County Coun. Lloyd Gibbs, who was at the meeting, described the community as “broken.”
“These are quiet neighbourhoods and they don’t want (wind turbines) in their backyards,” Gibbs told this paper. “This (meeting) is wrong … they are being deceived … I feel so sorry for these people.”
The Department of Environment issued approval for the creation of two, 1.6-megawatt turbines for the Greenfield Wind Farm project in late January. Burge said the wind turbines are more than 1,000 metres away from local homes and roads are now being built for the project, power line easements are underway as is clear-cutting. It’s anticipated the project will be completed in late 2015.