Crowd Gathered for Wind Energy Hearing
The gallery was full yesterday as the Municipality of Cumberland held its final public hearing on a proposed new set of bylaws regarding wind energy proposals.
While only three individuals requested time to address council, Mayor Murray Scott allowed, all who wanted, to add their comments.
Dan Eaton of the Higgins Mountain Wind Farm opened with a slide show reminiscent of the presentations from earlier public meetings. He spoke of the job oprospects, the tax revenue, and the low cost renewable energy, none of which addressed the county’s proposed bylaw changes.
Eaton did say the the idea of limiting the view of wind turbines from Highway 4 in Wentworth was simply arbitrary. The community wants a five kilometre limit, while the bylaw calls for 3.5 kilometre sight protection.
Eaton also opposed the idea of an upfront bond to cover the cost of decommissioning turbines at end-of-life.
Don Bartlett, an engineering consultant who lives in Wallace, expressed concern for the highway setback. He said, “The 3.5 kilometre set back will eliminate the most environmentally responsible wind project in the whole of Nova Scotia.”
Dorey, who worked on the wind farm on the marsh near Amherst, noted there was great concern about that installation when first proposed but since it became operational, there have been zero complaints.
The Other Shoe That Dropped
Brian Dorey, speaking on behalf of First Nations people, said the whole project should stop while the proponents and governments consult with the Mi’kmaq owners of the land.
Dorey said, in no uncertain terms, that any regulations imposed by the county or the provincial government will “trigger the court process.”
He said rulings in the supreme court have made it clear the indigenous people must be consulted on such projects, a fact, he says, has not happened.
Dorey made it clear that the Mi’kmaq have partnered with Elemental Energy on its wind proposal because he believes they are taking an environmentally sensitive approach.
Dorey wants council to delay any decision of the bylaw to allow direct discussion with Mi’kmaq leaders.
Six private citizens took advantage of the opportunity to speak. All were part of the ‘Protect Wentworth’ group who oppose the project because of its massive industrial size which they believe will cause “irreparable harm to the Wentworth Valley.”
They added an emotional component to the discussion, noting they were the ones who would be most affected by the proposed project.
Council intends to consider the matter again, perhaps at its next scheduled meeting.
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