Le Nordais public hearings attract many

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An unusually large number of people attended the public environmental hearing in February into the proposed "Le Nordais" 100 MW wind plant on the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. Pending environmental approval, construction is scheduled to start in June for completion by the end of the year. Most submissions at the hearing were in favour of the project, taken over from bankrupt Kenetech by an international consortium proposing to use Danish Micon turbines, but the NIMBY syndrome ( "Not in My Backyard" ) is alive and well: about 50 citizens objected to the impact of Le Nordais on their farming practices. Others expressed concerns for the landscape on the peninsula, which is a favourite summer tourist destination. The Gaspe is also a region of high unemployment, and some hearing participants objected that "strangers from around the world" would arrive and remain only long enough to built the wind plant. Some were also worried about the noise levels of the plant and its potential impact on fauna including birds. The hearings were held by Quebec's Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environment (BAPE), which delivered its final environmental impact report and recommendations to Quebec's environment minister, David Cliche, on February 24. He is expected to present his recommendation to the Quebec cabinet within 60 days. Henri-Paul Martel, a project manager for Le Nordais, told the Canadian Wind Energy Association's publication WindSight that the joint venture is currently micro-siting the turbines and waiting for warmer weather to complete soil tests, a road network and other infrastructure.

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