'I hope they take it seriously': Wind farm proposal garners more than 70 submissions

The province has started to review the 74 responses it received from the public on the proposed Eastern Kings wind farm expansion. 

Government now reviewing public's comments on the proposed expansion of the Eastern Kings wind farm

There are currently 10 wind turbines in Eastern Kings. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

The province has started to review the 74 responses it received from the public on the proposed Eastern Kings wind farm expansion.

The environmental impact statement for the project was posted online in late October and the deadline for the public to submit comments or concerns was Jan. 20, 2020. 

If approved, the P.E.I. Energy Corporation's project would add seven wind turbines to an existing facility in the rural municipality of Eastern Kings. It's a part of the P.E.I. Provincial Energy Strategy — to produce an additional 30-megawatts of wind energy. 

Greg Wilson, manager of environmental land management for the province, said local residents, out-of-province residents, birders, business owners and farmers submitted responses.

Government has also given P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq some extra time to respond to the environmental statement, Wilson said. 

Comments and concerns

One of the submissions came from the Souris & Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation. 

Fred Cheverie, the group's watershed co-ordinator, said he thinks more work could have been done when looking at the environmental impact. 

I'm sure that there are a lot of people who have concerns about this​​​​​​.— Don Humphrey, Eastern Kings resident

"We feel it didn't go far enough, we feel there's a lot of inadequacies in there," he said. 

The group's submission took issue with how some wildlife was assessed in the area, noting that the statement said no fish sampling was done and the equipment used to monitor bat activity in the area had some technical issues, and was not working some nights. 

"I think it lacked in a lot of areas.… But, maybe it's not so much what they did," said Cheverie. "Maybe just the criteria necessary for environmental impact assessment is not strong enough." 

Cheverie also said he thought there should have been more consultation with the wildlife group. 

'We feel it didn't go far enough, we feel there's a lot of inadequacies in there,' Fred Cheverie says. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Don Humphrey, a resident of Eastern Kings, submitted his own response to the project. 

Humphrey's submission focused on his environmental concerns, the reasoning behind choosing the site for the turbines and how the environmental assessment was done. 

He said he would like to see more analysis of the data presented in the statement. 

"They just gave a bunch of data," he said. "What's the good of data without analysis?"

Eastern Kings resident Don Humphrey says he'd like to see more analysis of the data presented in the impact statement. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Humphrey said he hopes the government listens to all the comments. 

"It's not only my submission. There's 74 others and I don't know which side of the fence they are on, but I'm sure that there are a lot of people who have concerns about this, have written in," he said. 

"I hope they take it seriously." 

Next steps

The province will identify any specific questions or concerns it feels need to be addressed in the submissions, Wilson said. Those concerns will be sent to the P.E.I. Energy Corporation for a response. Those responses will be posted online.

It will be up to the minister to approve, deny or defer the project. Or it may be allowed to go ahead with conditions.

A decision on the project is expected in early March.

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