Environment minister OKs Ellershouse wind project on conditions

Ashley Thompson
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John Woods, of Minas Basin Pulp and Power’s energy division, answers questions during a community liaison committee meeting in Ellershouse. Also pictured is Mary-Frances Lynch, the community relations manager for Minas Energy.

Developers interested in building a wind farm in Ellershouse have received conditional approval from the provincial government.

Environment Minister Randy Delorey released his decision, announcing that the Environmental Assessment registered for the Ellershouse Wind Farm received Nova Scotia Environment’s nod of approval, on Feb. 17.

Minas Energy registered the environmental assessment package with Nova Scotia Environment on behalf of the Alternative Resource Energy Authority, a partnership between the towns of Berwick and Mahone Bay, in December.

In a Feb. 17 letter to Jim Wentzel, a member of the Alternative Resource Energy Authority, Delorey explained that the proposed wind project has been approved on a number of conditions.

“I am satisfied that any adverse effects or significant environment effects of the undertaking can be adequately mitigated through compliance with the attached terms and conditions,” the letter reads.

Among the conditions, the developers must ensure programs are in place to monitor the impact the wind turbines have on the bird and bat populations before the seven turbines are installed.

Further, the approval holder must ensure the noise level at any dwelling does not exceed 40 dBA, and shadow flicker produced by the turbines must not exceed 30 minutes per day or 30 hours per year at the nearest receptor.

NSE spokesperson Lori Errington says compliance will be monitored through self-reporting by the developers, and announced or unannounced inspections by NSE staff.

The 16.1 MW wind project will supply power to the municipal utilities serving the towns of Berwick, Mahone Bay and Antigonish. It is estimated the turbines in Ellershouse, situated on 300 hectares of land east of Panuke Lake, will generate enough electricity to provide power for 4,500 homes.

Mary-Frances Lynch, community relations manager for the Bedford-based Minas Energy, says the developers must now seek permission to construct and operate wind turbines in Ellershouse from the Municipality of West Hants.

“Our next step is to enter into a development agreement with the Municipality of West Hants,” said Lynch, in a phone interview.

The development agreement process would involve a number of public meetings, which will be set by the municipality if council expresses an interest in the project.

That leaves Minas Energy with a rough idea of when construction could begin if the development agreement is obtained in a timely fashion.

“We’re hoping that construction could begin mid this year, maybe in the fall,” said Lynch.

It is estimated the turbines could be operational in 2015.

Lynch says the local area will see some economic spin-off from the project, and a community liaison committee comprised of citizens and project proponents meets regularly to discuss potential funding arrangements or projects that would directly benefit Ellershouse as the host community.

The next meeting of the community liaison committee is Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Ellershouse Community Hall.

The report outlining the conditions that must be met for the project to hold NSE’s approval can be found here: www.novascotia.ca/nse/ea/ellershouse-wind-farm/decision-conditions.pdf.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Environment, Minas Energy, Alternative Resource Energy Authority Municipality of West Hants

Geographic location: Ellershouse, Berwick, Mahone Bay Antigonish Panuke Lake

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