AMHERST – Opponents of wind farm planned for between the John Black Road and Hastings Road are disappointed with the province’s decision to approve the project.
“We are not surprised the EA was approved but we are pleased that there are several conditions attached,” group spokeswoman Pam Roberts said Wednesday. “To be clear, we have never been opposed to wind energy. Our opposition is in relation to the process that is allowing a private corporation to use a government program in COMFIT that is designed for local community development.”
On Tuesday, Environment Minister Randy Delorey gave approval to Natural Forces’ $18-million project that will see three turbines erected.
The three turbines will generate six megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 1,500 homes.
Roberts said the process allows Natural Forces to partner with the assembly of Mi’kmaq chiefs to circumvent COMFIT’s policy, which she says requires 25 members of an organization to be from the municipality where the project is located.
“Our opposition has also been about how Natural Forces misled our community and how COMFIT has not followed its own policies, particularly as they relate to community engagement,” Roberts added.
The COMFIT program is now on hold and under review to determine if it’s still a community-based program, she said. She believes that partially as a result of concerns her group raised and the difficult questions that still remain unanswered by the stakeholders.
She said it was wrong for the community to be notified in July 2014 of a project that was approved in 2012 and then told it was too late for them to provide input. She said the decision was made by all levels of government before the community was made aware of it.
Now that the project has been approved, Roberts said the only thing they could do would be to raise the thousands required to try to force a judicial review.
Dr. Brian Ferguson, who hosted a couple of public meetings on the issue, said he’s disappointed in the province, the Municipality of Cumberland and the assembly of chiefs.
Ferguson said he had to withdraw from the debate because he was beginning to feel hatred toward the other side.
“When you start having feelings of hatred because of frustration and anger that the will of the people wasn’t being considered you have to back away,” Ferguson said. “The will of the people wasn’t being taken seriously.”
Ferguson said he’s disappointed with the Mi’kmaq leadership in how they would be part of something that’s disrespectful to the people who own land near the project.
“I’m disappointed because they understand the principle of fairness and I’m really surprised they would continue with an investment that interferes with our land and our people,” Ferguson said. “I’m not trying to be disrespectful to them. They are brought up to believe their land and their people come first and that’s honourable. I just wish they had applied the same principle to us. We had no say about our land and our people.”
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