As Quebec prepares to experience a new wind boom, citizens who have fought for 10 years against the encroachment of wind turbines on their countryside in the foothills of the Appalachians are sick and demoralized.
Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear it and ended the story in early May. “You have to accept it, that’s for sure, but I have a hard time living with it,” said Yvonne Bourque, one of the residents of Sainte-Sophie-d’Halifax, who opposes the class action. erable.
Hydro-Québec chose after its 2005 call for tenders for wind power, a park of 50 wind turbines planted on the territory of the villages of Saint-Ferdinand, Saint-Sophie-d’Halifax and Saint-Pierre-Baptiste built without social approval and the Bureau d’Audiences Publics Sir L Without green light from the environment (BAPE).
The three municipalities are located in the Centre-du-Québec region, between Victoriaville and Thetford Mines, about a hundred kilometers from Trois-Rivières.
BAPE said in its report that the population was late informed and consulted about the project. He also pointed out that wind turbines are not located far enough from homes.
With the blessing of the government of Quebec, Hydro-Québec and MRC de L’Érable, Spanish promoter Enerfin built its park. Opponents turned to the courts to seek redress for the change in their environment.
Their lawyer, David Bourgoin, pleads neighborhood disturbances between the 100 megawatt park and the postcard-like residential environment: landscape degradation, disruptive noise and loss of home value. None of the citizen group’s arguments were accepted.
After that, it is easy to say that the battle is already lost. But as the trial progressed we felt that. We learned that we are fighting against the state.
David Bourgoin, Advocate of the Citizens against the Eliennes de l’Erable
The government, Hydro-Québec, the MRC, everyone wants to see the project completed, he said. “Neighborhood disturbances are far from their worries. »
According to him, there is a need to worry about the future as Regional County Municipalities (RCMs) have become promoters of wind projects to find new sources of revenue.
A permanent gap
Eight years ago, Yvan Bourque and his wife left the home they chose to spend their days away from wind turbines. “We’ve seen 17 of them from our area,” Mr Bourque said.
It took him three years to sell his property, and a clause was included in the sale agreement to ensure the buyer was well aware of the noise generated by the wind turbines. The sound, which was not consistent, eventually found the farmer. “It depends on the wind, but also on the atmospheric pressure,” he explained. It’s like an airport at times. »
The Bourques now live far from the wind turbines, but still close to their former neighborhood, where the wind farm has created a permanent gap in this once tight-knit environment.
Yvan Bork, also an electrician, used to help his neighbors, who provided him with other services in return. “It’s over. And it was passed down to the second generation,” he says of his 25-year-old son, who experienced the same segregation at school and will take over the farm.
Court experience from the Superior Court to the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court left Yvan Bourke bitter. “I don’t know because we have a very strict education, but I don’t know that we have the right to lie in court,” he said.
Bigger wind turbines are coming
As electricity demand increases, Quebec is about to experience a new wind power boom. Wind power generation will double by 2030, from 4,000 to 8,000 megawatts. A total of 1000 MW tenders have been completed and another 1500 MW is about to be commissioned.
“It’s going to make holes in the landscape,” warned Claude Charron, one of the early opponents of the L’Érable wind farm, as he settled in a residential area.
The next-generation wind turbines that will equip future farms are larger and more powerful than those running at L’Erable Wind Farm, with a production capacity of 6 megawatts, compared to 2 megawatts for the older ones.
We are talking about towers of 650 feet and above, compared to the current 440 feet, but distance from homes. [plus ou moins 600 mètres] It will be the same.
Claude Charron, L’Érable Wind Farm’s first rival
According to Claude Charron, citizens affected by future projects will be interested in them from the beginning. “City councils and mayors have great power,” he recalls of his experience.
The responsibility for identifying the installation of wind turbines falls to RCMs with interim regulatory provisions (RCI). These regulations are more or less limited from one area to another and are adopted by mayors who sit on the bodies of MRCs.
In this whole saga that is coming to an end, the actions and decisions of the municipal councils involved in the L’Érable wind farm mainly disappointed Yvan Bourque. “I want them a lot. »