Re: “Anti-turbine NIMBYs a far cry from enlightened Holland.”
I read with interest Janet Bickerton’s June 24 Reader’s Corner. I believe one should use caution when making observations while on vacation, as they are often based on assumptions that may or may not be rooted in fact.
In the case of wind turbine parks in The Netherlands (Holland), I can assure you the same heated discussions occur in Ms. Bickerton’s vacation destination as in Nova Scotia. I know. I am a Nova Scotian who lives in The Netherlands.
I have been involved in these stories on both sides of the Atlantic. Here, in The Netherlands, discussions concerning migratory bird flight paths, view-plane disturbances and health risks caused by sound and light disturbances precede and follow almost every wind park project.
In the North Sea, the main concerns are the loss of fishing grounds and safety concerns, as the encroachment of wind parks grows on the already very busy ocean-going traffic lanes. It is also important to point out that the subsidies available to companies through the Dutch and European Union governments are substantial when it comes to building “green energy” sources. The motivation for investing and building these parks is mostly revenue and profit generation, with very little if any altruistic thought to a better future. Discussions regarding global warming are rarely part of the discussion.
We are indeed in a climate crisis and biodiversity crisis. But it’s a bit more complicated than weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. We absolutely need to reduce emissions, but that’s not the whole story.
Scientists have been telling us for quite a while now that we must stop the worldwide destruction of forests and wetlands. Why? Because forests and wetlands draw down and sequester carbon. They reduce ground temperatures and maintain groundwater levels. Wetlands are the world’s rock stars when it comes to sequestering greenhouse gasses. They are the basis for a viable and clean water supply and the home to diverse and rich plant and animal life.
When you disturb or destroy these very complex ecosystems, you create a greenhouse gas chimney, releasing carbon, nitrous oxide and methane into the atmosphere. When trees are cut, carbon is also released, not only from the cut trees, but from the disturbed topsoil as well. When they are gone, so too is the service they provide – for free.
If we look at the proposed sites of most of the wind and solar projects in Nova Scotia, the preferred location is Crown land. Land that is held – in trust – for the public even though it is unceded Mi’kmaw territory. And almost without exception, these projects are located in forested areas or wetlands. This is not “uninhabited” land. These are complex ecosystems we desperately need in order to have some chance of mitigating the crises we are in and ensure some semblance of a future for our children and grandchildren.
There are alternative locations, but that requires careful planning, vision and the political will to stop giving away Crown land at bargain-basement prices.
Requiring that all big-box stores and industrial complexes cover their roofs with solar panels is one step. Building wind and solar parks on decommissioned or unused industrial sites is another. There are also many community-based solutions already available in Nova Scotia.
I don’t believe it’s a matter of NIMBY. I do, however, believe we need to take an integrated approach to finding a sustainable solution and not settle for the short-term financial gains of the chosen few.
Sandy Martin lives in Den Helder, The Netherlands
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