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Wind power regulations approved in 4-3 vote

Despite contentious debate last week over whether the town should open itself up to wind energy proposals at all, council decided in the end it was best to put the needed regulations in place instead of leaving the town without a strategy to guide a sector that is fast developing around the world. Coun. Margaret Tusz-King said the new wind power regulations, which were approved as part of Sackville's new zoning bylaw last Monday night, include "stringent limitations on how and where turbines will be erected."

Sackville now has a set of guidelines in place for future wind power development in the community.

Despite contentious debate last week over whether the town should open itself up to wind energy proposals at all, council decided in the end it was best to put the needed regulations in place instead of leaving the town without a strategy to guide a sector that is fast developing around the world.

Coun. Margaret Tusz-King said the new wind power regulations, which were approved as part of Sackville's new zoning bylaw last Monday night, include "stringent limitations on how and where turbines will be erected."

"We're going beyond the minimum expectations of even the experts."

Coun. John Higham agreed with his fellow councillor.

"We have gone beyond what we needed to do in terms of a regulatory regime," he said. "We have acted more than precautionary."

But not all town councillors were on the same side of the debate.

"I am not able to support wind farms in the town limits," said Coun. Virgil Hammock.

Hammock argued that the potential health effects of industrial-sized turbines on the local population are enough to make him wary of whether the community should be open to wind farm... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Sackville now has a set of guidelines in place for future wind power development in the community.

Despite contentious debate last week over whether the town should open itself up to wind energy proposals at all, council decided in the end it was best to put the needed regulations in place instead of leaving the town without a strategy to guide a sector that is fast developing around the world.

Coun. Margaret Tusz-King said the new wind power regulations, which were approved as part of Sackville's new zoning bylaw last Monday night, include "stringent limitations on how and where turbines will be erected."

"We're going beyond the minimum expectations of even the experts."

Coun. John Higham agreed with his fellow councillor.

"We have gone beyond what we needed to do in terms of a regulatory regime," he said. "We have acted more than precautionary."

But not all town councillors were on the same side of the debate.

"I am not able to support wind farms in the town limits," said Coun. Virgil Hammock.

Hammock argued that the potential health effects of industrial-sized turbines on the local population are enough to make him wary of whether the community should be open to wind farm projects.

"If something is inconclusive, that's enough for me to err on the side of caution," he said.

The sticky point for the councillors who are opposed to wind farms, however, is that the municipal plan they approved back in May clearly supports the development of renewable energy options. So their choice was to either go back and make changes to that municipal plan, which would be a lengthy process, or to approve guidelines that would strictly regulate wind energy.

Hammock, along with councillors Bruce Phinney and Joyce O'Neil, were prepared to alter the municipal plan to remove all references to wind farms in the document but were voted down in a vote of 4-3 by Tusz-King, Higham, Merrill Fullerton and Mike Tower (Deputy Mayor Bob Berry was not present at the meeting).

Over the past few months, the debate has continued to rage in the community over whether the environmental benefits and economic opportunities that come with wind energy outweighs the aesthetics and potential health effects of wind turbines.

Tower said he was "on the fence" when it came to whether or not wind turbines would be beneficial to the community.

"The unknown is there," he said.

Coun. O'Neil said the possible health consequences of turbines has raised alarm bells in her head. She has heard from constituents through phone calls and e-mails, and has done some research on the Internet, and cannot accept that the health claims that are being reported are bogus, as other councillors have suggested.

Phinney said he'd also rather be safe than sorry.

"I'd like to have them in areas where people are not around," he said, noting that he'd prefer if all references to wind turbines or farms were removed from the municipal plan.

But Higham argued the community should not close itself off to wind energy.

"We are being asked to prohibit a use that exists around the world . . . based on alarmist data," he said. "We're talking about an industry that has zero morbidity."

Higham said the Tantramar marsh, where one such wind farm is being proposed, has 600,000 volts of electricity going through it every day via the radio towers, with high school students being exposed to those decibel levels daily.

Coun. Fullerton also pointed out that there are greater concerns posed to human health than wind turbines - such as air pollution from vehicles and coal-fired power plants that are causing respiratory illnesses.

"So are we going to be leaders here or are we going to fall to fear-mongering tactics?" he asked.

Ron Corbett, director of the Tantramar Planning District Commission, said his department has conducted a lot of research on wind power regulations over the past few years.

"We've done a lot of work in terms of what the impacts are. And we wouldn't recommend this if we thought it would have an impact," he said, noting the biggest issue with wind power seems to be the 'aesthetics' of the turbines.

Under the new guidelines in the zoning bylaw, there is no allowance for wind turbines within the R1 (residential serviced) zone. Turbines will be permitted within the rural residential (R/R), industrial (Ind), and agricultural/conservation (A/C) zones, and each property will be limited to one small-scale wind turbine. These turbines must be 100 kilowatts or less and set back at a distance of 1.5 times its height away from the nearest property line and no more noisy than 40 decibels.

Within the A/C zone, there is an allowance for wind farms, defined as a group of wind turbines that can generate more than 3 MegaWatts of electricity. Prior to approval, these projects must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment. The turbines must be located at least 750 metres away from the nearest residence.

Mayor Pat Estabrooks said she was pleased council was able to come to a resolution on this issue.

"I think this will be an economic generator and I think it will definitely be a benefit to the agricultural sector."


Source: http://www.sackvilletribune...

NOV 19 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23196-wind-power-regulations-approved-in-4-3-vote
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