Anti-windmill protests heat up in St-Cyprien-de-Napierville

Protests against a future wind farm slated for prime agricultural land in southern Quebec have ramped up in St-Cyprien-de-Napierville.

Quebec environmental review board to begin examining Kahnawake Sustainable Energies project June 16

"Windmills here? No thank you!" reads a sign at a protest in Quebec's Montérégie region against a proposed wind power farm. (Radio-Canada)

Protests against a future wind farm slated for prime agricultural land in southern Quebec have ramped up in St-Cyprien-de-Napierville.

On Saturday, some farmers, local officials and residents marched against the 24-megawatt windmill project slated for St-Cyprien-de-Napierville, in the regional county municipality (MRC) of Jardins de Napierville.

Local residents are opposed to a wind farm project slated for St-Cyprien-de-Napierville.

Many of the protesters — including a group of local mayors opposed to the project — drove farming machinery and other vehicles from St-Cyprien-de-Napierville to Lacolle, near the Quebec-New York border crossing.

The opposition to the windmill project has been ongoing since the project was first pitched in 2010 by Kahnawake Sustainable Energies — a joint venture between Air Energy TCI, a Montreal subsidiary of the British TCI Renewables, and the Kahnawake Economic Development Commission. 

The provincial government in 2008 asked for aboriginal promoters to pitch wind-farm projects. It approved $5.5 billion in projects totalling 2,000 megawatts the same year, including two in the Montérégie region pitched by other promoters.

Environmental review board sits this week

Residents are concerned the presence of a wind farm in Quebec's breadbasket will degrade the quality of life and impact farming.

Opponents to the project are now fighting even harder to have their voices heard. The BAPE environmental review board will consider the project for approval this week.

The issue is made more complicated by a decree adopted in 2008 that stipulates aboriginal projects don't need the approval of municipalities to build on their land, even if it's off-reserve.

Joane McDermott, the spokeswoman of opposition group le Vent tourne, said it doesn't matter whether the promoter is aboriginal, British or otherwise — they don't want the windmills in the area.

"We don't want a wind project on agricultural land. We don't want them near houses. We also don't want this surplus of electricity that will cost Quebec a fortune," McDermott said.

Although the mayors of eight municipalities in the region have spoken against the project, the new mayor of St-Cyprien-de-Napierville, Normand Lefebvre, has said he would rent land in the town to the promoter for $25,000 a year.

Kahnawake Sustainable Energies declined Radio-Canada's request for an interview.


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