Developer says it is too early in the process for information being sought
Residents from the greater Harmony/Camden area packed the chambers of Colchester County council this week to protest against a proposed wind farm near their residences. HARRY SULLIVAN TRURO DAILY NEWS
TRURO - Two industrial-sized wind turbines proposed for the Harmony-Camden area are meeting strong opposition from local residents, in large part because of a lack of communication from the proponents for the project.
"It's not just the way they treat us," resident Deborah Smith told Colchester County council Thursday night.
"I'll take them treating us poorly," she said of the company officials involved. "We want to protect our homes."
Smith was one of about 65 men, women and children from the area who packed the council chambers to deliver an impassioned plea of requesting an "immediate emergency sitting" with council in the hopes of seeking protection against the project.
The proposal to develop a 4.4-megawatt community wind project is a partnership established in May between the Eskasoni Coroporate Division and the German-owned company, juwi Wind Canada and Community Wind Farms of Mahone Bay.
The Harmony Community Wind project proposes to provide electricity for 1,500 homes with construction planned for 2014.
But Smith and others who spoke to council about the project said there are too many unanswered questions surrounding the project, including where they would be sited, and an uncaring attitude from those involved about potential health concerns or suspected depreciated market value for homes in the vicinity if it is to proceed.
"They are getting the economic benefit of this and what are we getting?" she asked.
During two recent community meetings with the developers, Smith said residents' questions were met "with very few answers" and their concerns are not being recognized.
"At that initial meeting, with over 60 attendees, the developer was asked, 'what rights do we as residents have regarding whether or not we want this?' The developer simply stated, 'we will go where ever the wind is,'" she told council.
Smith also said the company has not been forthcoming on which property the turbines will be located.
However, Keith Towse, CEO of Community Wind Farms, said it is simply too early in the process to provide the answers to the questions being asked.
"One question was where are the turbines going?" he told the Truro Daily News on Friday. "We provided an indication as to where we thought they were going.
"But the project at the moment is at a very early stage. We have access to some very preliminary wind data but we are going to be putting it to a meteorological tower to assess the wind and the results of that wind resource assessment and the results of the environmental assessment where the two turbines that are going to be in this project will be sited. That obviously hasn't adequately satisfied, but from our perspective we're being open with the community about the project and the development process and giving people as much information as we have at the moment."
Towse said officials have a "preliminary idea" of where the turbines could go and that information has been shared on maps with the community.
"But they could move as much as hundreds of metres, depending on the results of the work we will be doing over the next 12 months," he said.
The residents asked council to halt the granting of any license for the project until more information is available or residents can have their concerns put to rest.
"We have come to ask for your help, leadership and guidance in protecting our community and the rural residents of Colchester," Smith said.
The company has yet to apply for a license from the municipality, but a staff member told council representatives have held discussions with the county's development officer.
The residents stressed that they are not against the principle of wind power development, they just want to be assured any turbines are placed far enough away from their homes to ease their concerns.
"All we could really get is really vague answers to anything," Smith said.
Towse, however, said the company cannot provide further information until it is available and any discussions it has had with area land owners is legally "confidential for the moment.
"We have provided all the information that we have at the moment," he said, adding the final sites will not be determined until about this time next year.
"We have committed to the community that we will keep them as fully informed as we possibly can. We're not seeking to hide anything or do anything behind their backs. What we're seeking to do is provide a project responsibly that is going to be a good neighbour."
Council told residents they had heard their concerns and would discuss the matter at a future committee meeting.