Meeting planned on Scott’s Bay tidal development

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on January 22, 2014

Halcyon Tidal Power, the American power company, has scheduled a public meeting on what could be a multibillion-dollar tidal power project for Scott’s Bay.

The first local town hall meeting to discuss the tidal power project will be held at the Old Orchard Inn on Tuesday, Feb. 4 from 7: to 9:30 p.m., said CEO Ted Verrill of Connecticut.  

Verrill said he hoped that the local community would check out the information beforehand about tidal power in general and this project in particular on his firm’s website, www.halcyontidalpower.com

Halcyon has indicated it wants to build a $3 billion lagoon-style tidal facility in Scott’s Bay. The 1,100-megawatt tidal barrage would stretch 10 kilometres from Baxter’s Harbour to Cape Split.

Read more about Halcyon's plan. 

Reaction to the proposal has included an online petition with over a thousand names calling on the province to reject the company’s request for a marine lease.

Local residents, like Natalie Aalders, fear a tidal structure would detract from the natural beauty of the area and impact tourism. They also worry a tidal barrage could disrupt the ecosystem and threaten marine life.

Halcyon executives will be meeting with provincial officials and First Nation communities when they are in Nova Scotia in early February.

Project could cause silt

Former Acadia University geology professor David Keighley, who now teaches sedimentology at the University of New Brunswick, says that barrages are essentially solid walls (dykes) that have been built in the Valley region for centuries.

“(They) have been built deliberately to change the natural environment by silting up parts of the Bay of Fundy for farming,” he said. 

To build a similar solid wall across Scott’s Bay, he believes, would also stop tidal flow and quickly silt up that area.

However, Keighley added, “I do not know the details of the project, but understand the engineers have designed something closer to an underwater windmill, and the barrage will not act like a dam, but will simply support the turbines, allowing for a normal tidal flow and so likely little change in silting rates.”

Keighley, who used to take his classes out to Scott’s Bay, says little change to silting rates and tidal flow would have to be supported by studies in a compulsory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 

He added that he is sure “if EIAs were around in Evangeline times, ‘nature’ in the Valley would look a whole lot different than it does now.”

Speaking to the ‘not in my backyard’ tendency, Keighley said, “it is imperative for the local, national and global good that wind, tidal and solar power production increases, and so someone has to allow construction to go ahead in their area – always provided EIAs are positive.”

Province aware of proposal

Provincial energy department spokesman Darcy MacRae says the province is aware of the proposal for a large tidal project in Scott’s Bay and has spoken to Halcyon Tidal Power about the company’s plans.

“We have communicated to the company the regulatory process it has to follow and referred Halcyon to the steps and procedures outlined in our Marine Renewable Energy Strategy,” he said. “We also noted that prior to submitting an application to the province for any kind of site access (authority is granted by the Department of Natural Resources), the company should consult with First Nations.”

MacRae noted that the province is also aware of the petition opposing the proposed project.

“We understand the concerns of Nova Scotians. That is why we have made it clear that there is a thorough regulatory process in place that the company would need to follow before the project could proceed,” he said.