Nova Scotia’s environment minister says he doesn’t have enough information to approve a proposal for what could be the province’s largest wind farm.
Renewable energy company Natural Forces submitted its plans to the province in January for what it calls the Benjamins Mill Wind Project.
Natural Forces is seeking environmental approval to build up to 28 massive turbines near the town of Windsor that would generate up to 150 megawatts of energy – enough to power about 50,000 homes.
Environment Minister Tim Halman had until this week to make a decision about the proposal. In a three-page letter to the company, released publicly Thursday, Halman wrote that he found the proposal insufficient in several ways.
Natural Forces, which has offices in Halifax, Quispamsis, N.B., and Dublin, now has one year to provide more information about:
- Historical geoscience.
- Flora and fauna.
- Wetlands and other waterways.
- Noise generated by the turbines.
- Potential impacts on biodiversity.
- Archeological resources.
Once the company submits the information Halman has asked for, the minister will have 50 days to come to a new decision.
Amy Pellerin, a spokesperson for Natural Forces, said the company will proceed with the environmental assessment process and submit a more information to the department.
She said she didn’t know how long it would take to gather everything the minister had requested, but she didn’t expect this new step to change the project’s timeline.
The company previously projected the wind farm could be working by 2024.
In its original proposal, the company said it reviewed existing data and did its own field studies on wetlands, watercourses, sensitive habitats, endangered species and nearby residences to come up with a design that would have minimal impacts.
It concluded that any environmental impacts would be “minor to negligible and short term in nature.”
Twenty-one provincial and federal government departments, two Mi’kmaw organizations and 21 members of the public submitted feedback on the original proposal as part of the comment period that’s standard to environmental assessments.
Some of the minister’s requests stem from recommendations made by government departments, including Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
Several of the public comments from people who identified themselves as residents in the area said they were worried about noise from the turbines and adverse health effects.
The minister’s letter said the company should refer to Health Canada’s guidance on evaluating human health impacts of noise, and propose plans for mitigation and complaint resolution.
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