Windmills

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The Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change approved PEIEC’s (Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation’s) proposed 30 megawatt Eastern Kings wind farm project. However, a special development permit application still needs to be approved by Eastern Kings Council.

Eastern Kings deputy mayor, Danelle Elliot, said council’s decision may be pending one additional piece of information, a decision by IRAC (the Island’s Regulatory and Appeals Commission) concerning an appeal.

Ms Elliot expects council will make a decision soon.

Eastern Kings mayor, Grace Cameron and Councillor Bernadette McInnis have historically declared conflicts of interest on the project. Therefore the decision rests with the five remaining councillors.

Fred Cheverie, Souris Area Branch co-ordinator of the PEI Wildlife Federation, holds little hope plans for the proposed addition will die on the table.

“I’m greatly saddened,’’ he said.

Mr Cheverie said the wildlife branch supports wind energy as a possible source of sustainable energy, but not in this case where the cost is deforesting and unsettling some of the Island’s most expansive, intact forest systems.

He suggests anyone concerned with the project should reach out to local politicians.

Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change, Natalie Jameson approved the project on behalf of the province. This is subject to 17 conditions including ongoing monitoring of impact on the environment.

“This decision balances the needs of people, communities, wellness and the environment,” Ms Jameson said.

The department expects the company will need to cut away 14 acres of forest to install the new turbines.

Conditions laid out by the minister compel the Energy Corporation to follow an approved environmental management plan, and develop an environmental management committee.

The committee must include a representative from the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change, two representatives from the PEI Energy Corporation, four community residents, one representative from the Souris and Area Wildlife Branch, one representative from L’nuey (a group focused on protecting, preserving and implementing the constitutionally entrenched rights of the Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island, Epekwitk) and one representative from the Rural Municipality of Eastern Kings.

The process of choosing the four residents has not yet been determined.

Mr Cheverie said the gesture of creating an environmental management committee is laughable.

“They haven’t listened to us yet, why would they suddenly start now?”

Another condition requires the Energy Corporation to purchase and legally protect from development a minimum 42-hectares of forested property within Kings County to compensate for the 14 forested hectares that will be cut.

Mr Cheverie said there is no telling what quality of land will be purchased and it will be hard to make up for disrupting particularly sensitive systems and the well-established forest locations planned for the turbines.

The Energy Corporation must also work in accordance with an environmental impact statement, to prepare and follow an environmental management plan and follow some measures to protect and monitor bird and bat populations.

An indigenous monitor from L’nuey will also be welcome to identify any culturally significant flora and PEIEC will have to follow protocols including should they find evidence the area might be archaeologically significant.

Monitoring noise and obtaining permission from property owners to use any privately owned land is also the responsibility of the Energy Corporation.

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(1) comment

Don Humphrey

The minister had a thumb on the ‘ balance’.

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