By Dr Herb Dickieson, former Island New Democrat MLA
Wind powered electricity is a renewable resource that could benefit all Islanders in their homes and businesses by creating jobs, and providing an alternative to fossil fuels to do our part in countering global warming. However, acquiring and transmitting wind generated electric power must respect and receive social license from local residents most affected by development of the resource.
In 2006 the Binns government allowed the establishment of a high voltage power line to transmit power from the West Cape wind farm along parts of Routes 142, 144, 147 and 143 in West Prince. The line ran along the highway through the communities of Springfield West, Haliburton, Forest View and Howlan.
Following compelling appeals from local residents, in 2008 the Ghiz government diverted part of the high voltage line away from Howlan, joining a non-inhabited corridor to Summerside, but left most of the line that remains in parts of Springfield West, Haliburton and Forest View. Close to fifty dwellings, housing almost three times as many residents continue to have the high voltage power line along the highway adjacent to their homes.
Many local residents in these communities have health concerns, and their property values may be compromised due to the presence of high voltage power lines. Although debate exists in scientific circles as to health risks for those in close proximity to high power lines, responsible government should follow the precautionary principle and avoid risk to the people they claim to represent.
The King government must heed the legitimate concerns of rural Islanders and correct the failures of previous governments by ordering complete diversion of the West Cape wind farm high voltage transmission line, and allow meaningful consultation for any further development.