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Wind turbines eat up arable fields, producers lament

Wind turbines eat up arable fields, producers lament

Quebec grain producers are concerned about the future deployment of wind turbines that will reduce acreage and impact the province’s food security.

Before announcing the expansion of wind energy, the Quebec government and HydroQuebec could have at least consulted those who occupy and farm the region, denounces Christian Overbeek, president of Quebec grain producers, in an interview with Journalism.

Since the announcement of Hydro-Québec’s action plan, which plans to triple wind energy production over the next 10 years, promoters have already been showing up in rural Quebec to sniff the wind, he says.

“There are those who believe that most grain producers will wait until later,” says Christian Overbeek. This is far from reality, as he put it.

There are considerations other than the royalties paid to producers who host wind turbines on their fields. “Wind turbines are not just a pole in the middle of a field,” he says. There are access roads, diversion and transportation facilities, not to mention the heavy equipment that disturbs the ground during construction. It’s more aggressive than the promoters say. »

In Quebec, cultivated land is eaten up every year.

Christian Overbeek, president of the Quebec Grain Producers Company

Hydro-Québec believes that increasing the number of wind turbines is the least expensive way to quickly increase its electricity production.

Michael Sabia, CEO of Hydro-Québec, explained that the new wind turbines will cover an area equivalent to 15 times the surface area of ​​the island of Montreal, presenting his plan to increase wind production by 10,000 megawatts by 2035.

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Half of the cultivated land

Social acceptability of the host community is one of the criteria identified by Hydro-Québec in its invitations to bid for wind energy. Christian Overbeek would like the state company to give more importance to local concerns in its choice of projects to submit to.

The head of Quebec’s grain producers raises the possibility of requiring minimal damage to agricultural activities or prioritizing energy security in communities that host wind turbines.

Other solutions could also be considered to increase electricity production, he said, such as building wind turbines at sea or outside cultivated areas. He believes that energy issues should not come before food security.

Field crops are the work of 9,500 producers who grow corn, wheat, barley, oats, soybeans and canola on land that represents half of Quebec’s total cultivated area.

Quebec’s grain producers are members of the Federation of Agricultural Producers, which recently spoke out against the Boralex wind energy project in the Arthabasca region.