UPPER NAPPAN – A letter writing battle has broken out between the Town of Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland County regarding a moratorium on wind turbine farms.
“The Town of Amherst is writing a letter to the premier (of Nova Scotia Darrell Dexter) asking for a moratorium on wind turbine farms until the year 2014,” said Keith Hunter, warden for Cumberland County. “We don’t want to see a moratorium on wind farms.”
The Town of Amherst is urging the province to implement a moratorium after Health Canada announced July 10 that they will begin to study the impact of health on people living close to wind turbines.
County council countered the town’s letter during Wednesday’s council meeting by passing a motion to send a letter of their own to the province urging them not to place a moratorium on the building of wind turbines.
“Cumberland County is open for business for green energy and it includes not only wind power, but geothermal, tidal, solar and biomass,” said Hunter.
Two councilors voted against the motion, Kathy Redmond and Ernie Gilbert.
Redmond said she’s not against wind turbines but she’s not in favour of the present bylaw.
“The setbacks should be further,” she said.
“The county should also have zoning,” she added. “If it’s a populated area then it would be a certain distance from a wind turbine, if there’s no population the distance would be different. We need zoning, period, throughout the county for all kinds of different things.”
Hunter said wind turbines are good business.
“It’s tax revenue for us that our residents don’t have to pay,” he said. “And we don’t see a sign of any hazard (from wind farms) from other jurisdictions, including Europe and all over the world.
The province of Nova Scotia recently asked for requests for proposals for 100 megawatts of power. Nineteen bids were issued, six of those bids coming from Cumberland County.
“The letter will also state that the provincial directive is to have 40 per cent of its energy in green energy by 2020, and in order to achieve that you can’t be putting moratoriums on green energy,” added Hunter.
Asked why he thinks Health Canada decided to conduct a wind turbine health study now, Hunter said, “I think they got pressure from groups to do the study.
“But, in my mind, wind power is not new science, it’s all over the world,” he added. “If it was dangerous there would be outcries from other places, and I think the outcry is from people who are negative on a lot of things.
“If the same thing had happened when they tried to build the Trans-Canada Highway it would never have been built, or the railway, or cell phones, but we still use them.”
Councilor John Reid is concerned wind turbine studies could go on forever.
“People will want more reports,” he said. “They’ll have a report in 2014, a 2018 report, and a 2020 report.”
Reid said if the province wants to start issuing moratoriums then they should have written the bylaws instead of passing the responsibility to the municipalities.
“Four or five years ago when the province refused to do a wind turbine bylaw and left it in the hands of the municipalities, at that point I wish they would have created one provincially-wide but they didn’t,” he said.