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Barrachois 2-turbine wind farm approved

A Cape Breton wind project has received environmental approval from the province.

Environment Minister Randy Delorey signed off on the two-turbine Barrachois wind farm on the weekend, while imposing conditions.

The four-megawatt venture, proposed by Halifax wind developer Natural Forces Wind Inc., will be located 15 kilometres west of Sydney.

Andy McCallum, vice-president of business development for Natural Forces, said Monday the company has agreed to take additional steps to protect bat populations in the area, including the endangered little brown bat.

Conditions attached to the approval require the company to conduct bird and bat surveys for two years once the turbines become operational and report the results annually.

“If it is showing that we’re killing more bats than normal … then we’re committing to actually shutting the turbines down during high bat activity,” McCallum said.

Natural Forces also delayed filing its environmental assessment report with the province for a year to allow more time to study bat activity, the vice-president said.

The company must also undertake a lichen survey before construction starts and monitor populations of the endangered Canadian lynx and American marten.

McCallum said land clearing for the project is set to begin in early September, with road and foundation construction slated for later in the fall.

The plan is for turbines to be operating in March, he said.

The Barrachois project, located in a forested area with a handful of homes and cottages nearby, is being developed under the province’s community feed-in tariff program.

The wind farm, which has a 20-year contract to supply Nova Scotia Power, is majority-owned by Wind4All Communities Inc., a community economic development investment fund sponsored by Natural Forces.

The fund is planning a share offering this year to raise funds for the Barrachois venture.