Tidal power outlined for community

Justin Dickie
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PARRSBORO Representative of the Offshore Energy Environmental Research Association (OEER) were at the Fundy Geological Museum on Monday for a community forum to discuss the possibility of tidal energy becoming a reality and explain the process of the Strategic Environmental Assessment currently underway.

SEA process lead Lesley Griffiths, Graham Daborn from the Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research, and Sandra Farwell from the Nova Scotia department of energy explained their respective organizations roles in the SEA, where theyre at in the assessment process, and took questions concerns from the dozens in attendance at the museum.

The whole forum was aimed at making people more informed and taking general questions and concerns into consideration regarding the possibility of someday having a tidal energy system in the Bay of Fundy.

Most questions posed by the audience went generally unanswered by all three parties as its just too early in the assessment process to define concrete answers to the questions.

Generally, those in attendance wanted to know how ecosystems would be affected by the technologies, and what kind of socio-economical impacts there would be.

Issues of general concern include potential impact on fisheries, fish, marine mammals, birds, economic development, tourism and recreation, and protected sites and species.

"Were very committed to building renewable energy in the province," said Farwell. "In the regulatory process, we will ensure any sites chosen are environmentally sustainable."

Many ideas of how to collect energy from an offshore source are being developed, including offshore wind turbines, tidal lagoon systems, and a system that would generate energy from the power of tidal stream. Right now, Daborn sees the tidal stream system as the best option because it would set well under water and is likely to have the least affect on fish and other ecosystems.

The SEA is expected to be complete by April 2008. At this time, theres no estimate of how big the project at the Bay of Fundy could be, but questions regarding the issue generated quite a bit of discussion.

"I think that question about how much and how big has a huge question mark over it. For the environmental assessment, I think itll be an ongoing process to define that," Griffiths said. "The question of how big, I dont think there any real rush to define that."



jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Offshore Energy Environmental Research Association, OEER, Fundy Geological Museum Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research Nova Scotia department of energy

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Bay of Fundy

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