FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2007, file photo, a cluster of windmills of the north side of Mars Hill Mountain is seen in Mars Hill, Maine. A powerful lobbying coalition is campaigning to require more electricity to come from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal. But the effort hasn't gotten any traction in the Senate this year (AP Photo/ Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Most of the people in the Hermanville-Clear Springs area support the government’s plan to build a wind farm there, says Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.
“There is no opposition to it,” he said.
Sheridan was responding to a recent news release from area resident Julie Shore, which urged Sheridan to reconsider the government’s plan for 10 turbines in Hermanville-Clear Springs.
The original plan was to build the wind farm in Eastern Kings where residents voted in favour of the development in a plebiscite. But after the vote, the community council decided against it and the government had to move to its second choice, which was Hermanville-Clear Springs.
To gauge support for the Hermanville-Clear Springs project, the government got written responses from landowners.
In the news release, Shore said landowners were concerned by the provincial government’s lack of community consultation in pursuing the project.
Sheridan said more than 70 per cent of the residents in the Hermanville-Clear Springs area want the project.
“It’s very important to them. They’re wondering when that project is going to be in place and when that money is going to start to flow to their community,” he said.
Shore said the landowners were also worried about the government’s “pay to play” approach through which it offered $500 to local residents who signed off on the wind turbine development.
Sheridan said those payments went to landowners who signed agreements with the province to put a hold on the use of their land for five years. Those landowners will also be compensated further once the wind farm is up and running, Sheridan said.
The news release said residents hoped to convince the government to relocate the project from Hermanville and Clear Springs, which lacks the necessary infrastructure.
And with no municipal council in Hermanville or Clear Springs, Shore said the money the province will give the community as part of the project’s economic spinoff could be vulnerable to mismanagement or abuse.
“Though minister Sheridan claims that his bought votes demonstrate that a majority of residents are behind this project, the Hermanville and Clear Springs Landowners Association continues to hear that local property owners are deeply concerned with the wind turbines,” Shore said.
Sheridan said the project is still awaiting the results of an environmental assessment, which the government expects to get in the new year, after which it will hold public consultations.
The project is still expected to be complete by November 2013.