Amherst expresses concern with proposed wind farm expansion near town
Credit: Darrell Cole | SaltWire | May 7, 2022 | www.saltwire.com | Wind farm plan fans worry in Amherst | Darrell Cole | The Chronicle Herald ~~
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AMHERST, N.S. – As much as Amherst wants to be known as a green community, even it has limits.
Amherst town’s council, while favouring the move to greener energy production, has some concerns with the possible expansion of a wind farm on the marsh outside the community.
“We’re huge supporters of green energy, and in principle, we support the idea of wind-generated electrical power,” Mayor David Kogon told the SaltWire Network. “However, we have some legitimate concerns. We don’t want them too close to the town or impinge on the town so they are an eyesore and a concern for the people who live close to them.”
Capstone Infrastructure, which owns the 32-megawatt wind project in Fort Lawrence near the New Brunswick border, wants to erect up to 12 turbines in addition to the 15 already in place.
The proposed Amherst 2 Wind Farm’s generation capacity of 60 megawatts would build on the success of the Amherst Wind Farm that has been in operation since 2012.
The company said that the project employed 150 area labourers and tradespeople and supported economic activity while providing $2 million in taxes to Cumberland County.
Capstone is submitting an application to the province’s Rate Base Procurement request for proposals for 1,100 gigawatts of new renewable energy.
Amherst was a supporter of the original project completed by Sprott Power before being sold to Capstone. Kogon said Amherst has a reputation for supporting green energy projects, such as the province’s first community solar garden being operated by Nova Scotia Power in the town’s industrial park as well as placing solar panels on the roof of the Amherst Stadium.
But, he said, council is asking for the proposed turbines to be as far away from the town boundary as the existing ones, and if the turbines are larger or higher, that they be located even further back.
The mayor said the town has been contacted by residents concerned with the proposed project.
“We’re raising the same concerns our residents are,” the mayor said.
Amherst has no authority over the turbines since they would be located in the Municipality of Cumberland, but Kogon said he’s confident Mayor Murray Scott and his council will be aware of the town’s concerns.
The county is in the midst of a moratorium on wind farm development while it studies its land-use bylaws regarding wind turbines. Its planning department has brought forward recommendations on setbacks based on height and is also suggesting an outright ban on turbines in the Wentworth Valley.
Kogon said an acceptable construction plan needs to be put in place that does not involve using town streets. If a street is needed, an access utilization plan must be approved by the town that includes scheduling the use of the street, daily cleanup of the street paid for by the company and a commitment to repair any damage.
Kogon said the town also wants an acceptable decommissioning plan established as well as a flora and fauna study to be completed and complied with.
“While they’re not in the Town of Amherst, we don’t want them to infringe on the Town of Amherst in any negative way,” Kogon said. “As long as they can assure us that none of those concerns will be a reality, we have no problem with the project at all and support the idea of generating electrical power using wind.”
Leslie Childs’ Amherst home faces the marsh. Other than a two-page circular from Capstone sent to all homeowners within a kilometre of the proposed project, she said there has been little communication from the company.
“I don’t think this is where it needs to be,” Childs said. “There are many other locations that should (have) just as good access to the wind. They need to have a little more concern for the human beings who are within their impact.”
Child said these projects are like an industrial park, which do not work well with residential areas. She said there are 300 to 350 residences within a kilometre of the proposed project. She’s disappointed about the lack of opportunity to voice concerns on something that will change the quality of her life.
Childs said one of the reasons she and her husband chose their house is because it’s sighted so the front of the house faces the marsh.
“There are many wonderful houses along here,” Childs said. “We bought this house because of its location and its view and some corporation is talking about changing that.”
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