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County committee recommends increase in wind turbine setback from houses

PICTOU – The county’s planning advisory committee has passed a recommendation that the current wind turbine setback from residences be amended from 600 to 1,000 metres.

Four out of five members of the planning county advisory committee voted in favour of the recommendation put forward by municipal councillor Randy Palmer, but more public consultation will take place before it is handed over to council for approval.

Open houses will be held at the West River Fire Department and the Linacy Fire Department within the next month to give people a chance to speak to the committee about proposed amendments.

A time and date haven’t been set yet because municipal staff needed to check on the availability of the halls and the committee member’s own schedules.

A large group packed the Municipality of Pictou County’s council chambers Monday to hear the committee’s recommendation and to make presentations that called for a setback of at least 1,500 metres from the nearest residence.

Bailey Brook resident Faye Kenny said she lives near the Glen Dhu wind farm and didn’t hate wind turbines until they were set up near her property.

“They are about two kilometres away and very loud where I live,” she said. “Sometimes I have to close my bedroom window because it is like a jet roaring and another one sounds like a roaring waterfall. You can feel the vibration in your chest and bones.”

She said her husband suffers from vertigo and her neighbours have migraines that they all say are a result of the wind turbines.

“Before it all started, it was not a hate thing, but I hate them now,” she said. “I wish there was domino effect and I could push them all down.”

Submissions were heard from residents in both Pictou East and Pictou West who expressed their displeasure with having wind turbines near their homes, saying it decreased their property values, caused health concerns, displaced wildlife and has taken away from their quiet, rural lifestyles.

County council had been asked by Pictou County residents to amend its wind turbine setback beyond the current 600 metres after a wind turbine was installed in Tower Road in Millsville, built by RMS Energy in Dalhousie Mountain.

After Monday’s presentations, Coun. Leonard Fraser made a recommendation that the setback be amended to 1,500 feet from the closest residence, but it wasn’t seconded and the motion wasn’t passed.

Fraser was the only nay vote when it came to vote on the recommendation for a 1,000 setback, He said he heard the residents speak and wouldn’t want a wind turbine close to his home.

“If I own a piece of property or land and a wind turbine is going to affect my lifestyle or property, I would want it 1,500 metres,” he said. “You don’t know how bad it is until it affects you.”

The planning advisory committee could have brought the amendment to council for approval, which would have involved a public hearing, but instead opted for public consultations to take place first, before it reaches council’s grasp.

Committee chair Fielding Smith warned the crowd that it will take at least two months to go through the public consultations and have it handed off to council whereas having it directly go to council could cut the wait time to about a month.

He said he only mentioned the time difference between the two processes because residents have expressed concerns that until the bylaw is amended, the current setback rule of 600 metres stays in place.