Point Aconi strawberry producer fighting installation of power lines across his farm

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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'This is just corporate bullying'

POINT ACONI — Local farmer Eddie Rendell feels he is being bulllied when it comes to allowing  transmissions lines across his property.

Point Aconi farmer Eddie Rendell, shown in this file photo, is unhappy about Maritime Link transmissions lines crossing his property.

Work on clearing for the Maritime Link began in February, and stopped the end of March to allow for bird-nesting season. Clearing for the lines is expected to resume in September.

It is expected that the $7.7-billion Lower Churchill project at Muskrat Falls and the Maritime Link will deliver hydroelectric power to Cape Breton and mainland North America.

Rendell said his biggest concern is that the power lines will de-value his farm.

"These lines affect the bee pollination, I have one power line now. It's not like it is in the woods, they are looking to put them right across the farm," he said. "I feel that agriculture is more important than power, agriculture is an essential service."

Rendell said you can eat in the dark, but you can't live without food.

"You can survive five or six days without power, but you wouldn't survive five days without something to eat."

Rendell said he wants to be fairly compensated, adding that he'd like to be able to buy land somewhere else and continue farming.

"If my son were to decide to sell some building lots on the Prince Mine Road in 10 years, no one is going to build near those power lines.

"All we are hearing about in schools is bullying, this is just kicked up a notch . . . this is just corporate bullying. I got the land and they can take it off  me; I don't think that's right. "

He said he has turned the matter over to his lawyer.

Emera communications manager Jeff Myrick said the corporation committed during the environmental process to use existing transmission cooridors where possible.

"We started in Woodbine, the Point Aconi area, and certain sections of the transmission core have been cleared as well," Myrick said. "I can't speak to an individual landowner's case, we want to respect everyone's privacy. Negotiations have been onging for at least 18 months and it’s been very positive and productive."

Myrick said since 2012 open house sessions were held to explain the proposed route.

"From that perspective we've been engaging the community and landowners as much as possible," he said. "We are currently neegotating easement and right of ways with more than 200 landowners in Cape Breton."

Myrick said every landowner is being offered fair market value for their property.

"It comes down to their feeling of what the land is worth to them, versus what the land is worth from a market perspective and sometimes that can differ."

As a last resort. the project holding company NSP Maritime Link Inc. (NSPML) does have the ability to expropriate.

"We will look to expropriation only in certain circumstances where a landowner is deceased or cannot be found,  where land title cannot be determined, and in some cases where an agreement cannot be reached with a landowner."

Myrick noted that if expropriation is required, landowners would still receive fair market value for their property.

"But we want to work with each landowner to reach an agreement; expropriation is a last resort."

Construction of the transmission line infrastructure is expected to start in the latter part of 2014.

The subsea cable is expected to be laid near the end of the project in 2017, once all other infrastructure is in place.

Organizations: Maritime Link, Prince Mine, NSP Maritime Link NSPML

Geographic location: Cape Breton, North America, Point Aconi

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