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Sackville passes by-laws for wind turbines; Council divided over zoning regulations

Debate about the development of wind power within the town of Sackville has been widespread in the last two months, as the introduction of bylaws by the planning commission were tabled before the town council. The by-laws cover both turbines for individual use, and wind farms, with a generation capacity exceeding three megawatts. At the council meeting on November 9, the by-laws passed by a vote of 4-3.

Debate about the development of wind power within the town of Sackville has been widespread in the last two months, as the introduction of bylaws by the planning commission were tabled before the town council. The by-laws cover both turbines for individual use, and wind farms, with a generation capacity exceeding three megawatts. At the council meeting on November 9, the by-laws passed by a vote of 4-3, setting regulations for both single turbines in Sackville's rural-residential zones, and wind farms in the agricultural conservation area.

The by-laws passed after several changes were made to the restrictions placed upon the location of the turbines. Turbines on wind farms need to be placed 750 metres from any residence, and small-scale wind turbines need to be set back least 1.5 times their height (measured from the top of the blade) from any road, right-of-way, or property boundary. In addition, a restriction of forty decibels was placed on the noise that can reach any residence from any wind turbine. Michael Fox, the Chair of the Planning Commission and Professor of Geography here at Mount Allison, said that support for sustainable local power generation amongst the faculty here is generally positive, and the new... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Debate about the development of wind power within the town of Sackville has been widespread in the last two months, as the introduction of bylaws by the planning commission were tabled before the town council. The by-laws cover both turbines for individual use, and wind farms, with a generation capacity exceeding three megawatts. At the council meeting on November 9, the by-laws passed by a vote of 4-3, setting regulations for both single turbines in Sackville's rural-residential zones, and wind farms in the agricultural conservation area.

The by-laws passed after several changes were made to the restrictions placed upon the location of the turbines. Turbines on wind farms need to be placed 750 metres from any residence, and small-scale wind turbines need to be set back least 1.5 times their height (measured from the top of the blade) from any road, right-of-way, or property boundary. In addition, a restriction of forty decibels was placed on the noise that can reach any residence from any wind turbine. Michael Fox, the Chair of the Planning Commission and Professor of Geography here at Mount Allison, said that support for sustainable local power generation amongst the faculty here is generally positive, and the new by-laws provide a framework for balanced development within the town.

"This new by-law was carefully constructed to encourage alternative energy generation on the one hand, yet protect individual homes that might be too imposing on their properties. Sackville now stands as one of the more progressive and carefully planned communities in New Brunswick, in terms of renewable energy options and stringent guidelines for the development of alternative energy projects."

Students of Mt. A have been organizing in support of action to prevent climate change, including the development of sustainable power generation, through the C3 project and 350.org's Day of Action on October 24. However, there was significant opposition to the development of local commercial wind power from other residents of the town.

"I fielded a lot of calls from people who were opposed to wind farms, and was not contacted by anyone who was in favour of wind farms," said Virgil Hammock, one of the town counsellors. "I am not opposed to clean energy, but I remain opposed to industrial wind farms within the town limits," he elaborated. "Sackville is a large town. We're seventy-five square kilometers [the largest municipality in New Brunswick by land area], and the potential for wind farms here is a real issue." Hammock was among the three votes against the new zoning bylaws, joining councillors Joyce O'Neil and Bruce Phinney in opposing the measure. However, Hammock expressed no concerns about residents who wished to place a wind turbine, on rural-residential zoned properties, for personal use.

Questions concerning larger scale developments may be moot. With the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec, the issue of local power generation of any sort has become extremely clouded. Hydro-Québec is to take ownership of the entire power grid, and will be entitled to max out its transmission capacity with its own, much cheaper, hydroelectric energy.

Though Hydro-Québec has recently tendered bids for wind power within the province of Quebec itself, there is no guarantee that, even in the event of extra grid capacity being built, that transmission rights would be gained by local power generation facilities. Any extra capacity would have to be bid upon by anyone wishing to use it, players already on the market in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, as well as Hydro-Québec itself.

Compounding these issues is the reality that, despite its geographical advantages, ideas for commercial wind power development within Sackville itself remain a hypothetical. "By far, most of the interest has been in small scale installation of turbines for people's use in their own residences," said Lori Bickford, of the Sackville Planning Commission. With the future of the local power grid still in question, the passing of these by-laws may be seen as a victory for personal sustainable living, while the question of using Sackville's natural geography in order to support its energy needs is very much still up in the air.


Source: http://www.argosy.ca/view.p...

NOV 20 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23205-sackville-passes-by-laws-for-wind-turbines-council-divided-over-zoning-regulations
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