Tempers flare during public meeting regarding wind turbines

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SALMON RIVER – A public meeting this week regarding a wind turbine project for Greenfield and Lower Harmony quickly turned into a verbal confrontation between the developer and community residents.

About 70 people attended a public meeting on Monday night to discuss the wind turbine project for Greenfield and Lower Harmony. Emotions ran high during the meeting, which often resulted in verbal sparring. Monique Chiasson – Truro Daily News 

Reuben Burge, president of Affinity and developer of the local wind turbine project, set aside two hours at the Salmon River fire hall on Monday night to discuss 44 questions from the public that have been answered and posted online at www.rmsenergy.ca

He refused to answer questions posed at the meeting until the end; that didn’t sit well with most of the 70 people in attendance. Some walked out within a half an hour after hearing Burge intended to leave after two hours, regardless  if there was time to answer questions from the floor. Burge ultimately stayed until 9:50 p.m.

One unidentified woman yelled, “we want you to answer our questions. We didn’t come here for this foolishness.”

“I feel like I’m being ignored,” Harmony Ridge resident George Thomas, who loudly insisted during the meeting the formal presentation be skipped, told the Truro Daily News.

Thomas said he wanted to talk about possible side effects for people who suffer from air sickness or migraines and the impacts wind turbines could have on pets.

Burge said many of the questions people were shouting out during his talk were answered in the presentation, if they would only listen to him.

“I’m answering the questions given to me by the public,” he said.

For example, regarding pets, Burge said in the presentation,  “there is no scientific evidence to suggest that wind turbines could harm domestic animals. Wild animals are assessed for potential impact in the environmental assessment.”  

Lower Harmony’s Claudia Leclerc lives 1.5 km from the intended wind turbines. She told this paper she was “frustrated” with the meeting.

“We are spending the whole night answering questions on a website; we may have our own questions. I’m not at all surprised and I’m frustrated,” Leclerc said.

Leclerc said she was concerned about use of the Johnson Road as the project’s access road, which is close to her home, because it “will bring farm businesses and traffic close to me. It’s dirty and that dirt and noise will increase.”

During one of many verbal battles between Burge and the public, one woman spoke up to say she hadn’t seen all the information on the website and wanted to hear the  presentation.

“(Residents) didn’t give him a chance,” Greenfield’s Tanya Turple told the Truro Daily News near the end of the evening.

“They walked in with negative attitudes. I’m for this (project) … it’s clean, renewable energy and we should be using this.”

Greenfield’s Heather Collicott is also in favour of the turbines.

“I’m excited about this project,” she said at the meeting, adding she can hear work at a nearby lumber mill and other sounds in the area and that “washers and dryers make more noise than the turbines will.”

Some of the topics Burge discussed in the presentation included concerns with “flickering” or shadows on residences by the turbines blades. He said there won't be flicker at any house, based on study results, which assessed flicker increments of 10 minutes up to one hour a day. No houses are close to those 10 minutes, said Affinity officials.

“There will be no noise or health issues whatsoever,” added Burge, a Mount Thom resident.

“We are doing good,” Burge said, referring to renewable energy and a partnership Affinity has with the Nova Society Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

“Not much can be said to make to make me feel bad” about the turbine project, Burge said near the end of the meeting.

Many people were not in agreement with Burge’s assessment. Colchester County Coun. Lloyd Gibbs, who was at the meeting, described the community as “broken.”

“These are quiet neighbourhoods and they don’t want (wind turbines) in their backyards,” Gibbs told this paper. “This (meeting) is wrong … they are being deceived … I feel so sorry for these people.”

The Department of Environment issued approval for the creation of two, 1.6-megawatt turbines for the Greenfield Wind Farm project in late January. Burge said the wind turbines are more than 1,000 metres away from local homes and roads are now being built for the project, power line easements are underway as is clear-cutting. It’s anticipated the project will be completed in late 2015.



Twitter: tdnMonique

Organizations: Truro Daily News, Nova Society Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Department of Environment

Geographic location: Salmon River, Lower Harmony, Johnson Road Mount Thom Colchester County

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Recent comments

  • sam
    May 01, 2014 - 08:33

    Reasons for the opposition in the community is not aimed at the turbines and green energy. It is the close proximity to homes. It is easy to say you support the project if you are not living in Lower Harmony. This is about the industrializing of small rural communities without consideration for the residents and their concerns.

  • Ben wilson
    April 30, 2014 - 11:20

    Is their anything Nova Scotian's won't protest. We've been burning coal for electricity as long as we've had power plants. 40% of our electricity still comes from burning coal. That is worse than everything else.

  • Hot Air
    April 30, 2014 - 07:51

    There is more support in the community than against this project. However with scare tactics and intimidation, those in support are simply minding their own business. No one wants nails thrown in their driveway. The violence has led to restraining orders against those opposed to this project. Get the facts.

  • Katie
    April 29, 2014 - 20:31

    Hmm I'm glad that there is more support against the turbines here than in Ellershouse. I used to be open to renewable energy such as wind turbines, but the attitude of the contractor just completely annoyed me. They acted like the community residents are stupid. Where is the energy going from this set of turbines? In Ellershouse the community isn't even receiving any of the benefits and their property values are decreasing.

  • Nova
    April 29, 2014 - 18:36

    I can tell you from experience that they do mislead people about the noise. I was involved with the Nuttby Mtn. wind farm situation and I can tell you that they are loud, even at a distance. They sound like a low flying jet on some days (depending on wind direction). Not nice at all.

  • Charles
    April 29, 2014 - 15:29

    I have to laugh at studies. Invariably they seem to support the position of the person paying for them Even more humorous are number crunching studies. "In a recent poll 5000 people were in favor of our new widget" They never seem to commit to the fact they may have had 50000 responses. It's a sad situation that the residence of Lower Harmony and Greenfield are going to have this rammed down their throats by a company that is using well polished spin doctoring techniques.

  • Anita Tax Break
    April 29, 2014 - 12:09

    Who benefits from these turbines? There are at least 60 or so turbines have gone up in the last few years and NSP is still asking for a power hike. We pay for Efficiency NS to tell us things we already know. and as the middle class we are taxed to death. If the $$$ is going to help us working class heroes then build them. If it just going to make the rich richer... Who cares!

  • Anita Tax Break
    April 29, 2014 - 12:08

    Who benefits from these turbines? There are at least 60 or so turbines have gone up in the last few years and NSP is still asking for a power hike. We pay for Efficiency NS to tell us things we already know. and as the middle class we are taxed to death. If the $$$ is going to help us working class heroes then build them. If it just going to make the rich richer... Who cares!

    • Ben wilson
      April 30, 2014 - 14:38

      Wind power is expensive. Of course rates are increasing. We are spending extra money on power to reduce our CO2 emissions .We are not building turbines because they are cheaper.

  • Chief Wiggam
    April 29, 2014 - 08:38

    Enjoy the wind turbines cause your getting them weather you like it or not!!

  • jorge gurerra
    April 29, 2014 - 08:16

    It's frustrsting to me because I love the idea. And I have been around them, the concerns they have are comment but once in place they will realize they are unfounded. They are reading fast stories and mis information ad believing that rather than listning to what the speaker says with an open mind. But that's the typical older generation maritimer, if they don't know anything about a proposed change yet will protest it away, the whole time complaining about the provinces economy......

  • Tris
    April 29, 2014 - 08:04

    Wow, just wow. What terrible representation of themselves. The presentation was answering the public's questions, unless I read that wrong. They ASKED these questions before and he was answering them. Also, I'm sorry, what??? "will bring farm businesses and traffic close to me. It’s dirty and that dirt and noise will increase" I'm sorry, are you not living in Harmony? A RURAL community? A community with multiple farms? If you don't want to be in the country move to Town. How dissapointing. Maybe they would prefer a Nuclear Power Plant?

    • WOW
      April 29, 2014 - 16:42

      I agree tish. By my understanding the anti wind turbine group submitted these question on behalf of the local concerned residents and Mr. Burge was answering each and everyone of them. I hear that Mr. Thomas put on quiet a show with his outbursts. I can't believe people wanting to have answers would be so rude. And what??? is right, I do believe that the farm in Lower Harmony has been there for a hundred years and I understand its been operational for the last 27+ years, so what is the problem now? Let me guess, wind turbines on someone else's property,so no money. Same ol,same ol. The faster they get these up the faster these people shut up, so get to it fellas. Everyone is tried of listening to the same stuff over and over. Hurray for wind turbines .

  • Don
    April 29, 2014 - 07:49

    I have a turbine approximately 800 metres from my house. I never hear it and it has never bothered me. I think it's pretty neat to watch it on windier days. People have to get over the "Not in my backyard" attitude. We need the work and the renewable energy.

    • tom
      April 29, 2014 - 23:29

      First of all the work amounts to next to nothing and "we" do not need this form of renewable energy.For goodness sake don't be so naive and gullible get educated to reality.Wind turbines are a problem wherever they are built across the world google epaw.org

  • Let the wind blow
    April 29, 2014 - 06:58

    Let's all go back to smoke stacks with black toxins spewing out into the air we breathe. Some people need to get another hobby.

    • tom
      April 30, 2014 - 22:08

      Wow just how naive can you get- there has not been one coal fired station in the world replaced by wind turbines. They are replaced by natural gas or nuclear. The wind industry is based on greed,ignorance and institutional deceit .Its propaganda rewards the greedy,flatters the gullible and exploits the well intentioned. Do yourself a favor and get educated to reality -try windconcernsontario.com.

  • Jack Shearer
    April 29, 2014 - 06:49

    Wind energy (turbines) have been used throughout the world (for many many years) with great documented success. That information is readily available for anyone to access. Protesting & fighting against windmills is down right embarrassing unless you are filthy rich and the windmills are disturbing the view from your estate. I think our elected politicians should try to educate or provide information to these concerned citizens on the great benefits of wind energy that most of the the rest of the civilized world already understands, supports and embraces. Check it out folks .. windmills won't give your pet cat a migraine.

  • Wandy
    April 29, 2014 - 06:12

    I don't see why people are making such a big deal out of it...wouldn't bother me a bit if they put wind turbines behind my house in Onslow; I don't mind at all. geez.

    • Footprint
      April 29, 2014 - 08:43

      Same old speel "there is no evidence that wind turbines could.....well there no evidence that they couldn't harm you either. I live in an industrial wind farm and I and can tell you the sound gets into the walls and bounces around often being louder in the house than outside. FIGHT THESE WEASELS.

    • cind
      April 29, 2014 - 09:45

      You might want to do the research on what is going on in other countries before saying 'yes' to having these in your backyard. We thought it all sounded good too...at first...and then we did a lot of research. Too many unknowns, knowns and risks. We don't approve many things when so much is in question. Why put your own health, ability to enjoy your surrondings, upset your neigbours ect. just so that private companies can make a bundle of money. Unless you are making money on these as well...then perhaps to you it is worth the risk. But doing what you can to nurture your community and those you live next to is likely a more noble way to live.

    • pam
      April 29, 2014 - 10:02

      Do some research I guarantee you will change your mind. Most who oppose turbines now thought the exact same way you do. Then we did our research, independently, and quickly realized that turbines are inefficient, don't work without wind and need back up power, they are driving up our electric bills. Most of the time when they do work it's when we don't need the power (at night) and then we have to pay wind companies NOT to produce because it's cheaper than paying someone else to take the excess power away. The turbines ARE having a negative effect on people's health all over the world, turbine syndrome is REAL. Turbines ARE having a negative effect on Animals health. They ARE killing many birds and bats, they ARE being built in and destroying precious ecosystems, in places where endangered species are or were under protection. For some reason the rules that apply to you and me are swept under the carpet for BIG WIND, they get a free pass on everything from building permits to encroaching on bird migration paths to having incomplete applications deemed complete and given approval. Pick any of the subjects above and do your own research. Your not going to get a straight answer from a wind company, they get free money, your money to put them up, they will tell you everything will be ok. NOISE is an issue, Infra sound IS an issue...they ARE INDUSTRIAL MACHINES...machines make noise!! They are being placed among people, in fields using up agricultural land used for farming. Industry is leaving the province of ontario because they can't afford their bills. I'm surprised you haven't heard any of this....there are so many anti wind groups in ontario fighting this right now, there are groups WORLD wide. Research how Germany, Australia, Ireland, UK feel about turbines right now...they have gone before us, they are now backing away from turbines, fuel poverty is a reality. Homes are being abandoned for health reasons. All for the same reasons mentioned in this article and pointed out above. Please do your research....good luck. Ontario is about to have a spring election and the residents are about to vote PC because they promise to put a stop to further development of turbines in communities that have declared themselves UNWILLING hosts...because with the Green Energy Act in Ontario the democratic rights of the People were stripped away to ensure companies would have no resistance in building their projects. They were wrong....resistance is strong and growing daily. It's a fight that stretches beyond one's Back Yard...it's GLOBAL. NIMBY used to be "Not In My Back Yard" - was changed to "Next It Might Be You"...today it stands for "Next Idiot Might Be You"....do your research.

    • Let the Wind Blow
      April 29, 2014 - 11:46

      Too bad our elected officials wouldn't work with the community on decisions made on laws and policies in place at the time. Both the councillor and the MLA are lacking the leadership needed to work thru decisions they do not agree with.