A group of mothers is not done fighting the onslaught of 77 wind turbines in their community despite a ruling against them by the Environmental Review Tribunal.
The ERT dismissed the case against the Niagara Region Wind Corp. project brought forward by Mothers Against Turbines Inc. in a decision issued in May.
“The Tribunal finds that the Appellant has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health,” ERT vice-chair Dirk VanderBent wrote in his decision. “The Tribunal further finds that the Appellant has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.
“The Tribunal finds that the Appellant has not established that s. 142.1 of the EPA (Environmental Protection Act) violates the right to security of the person under s. 7 of the Charter.”
The decision came after a series of hearings held earlier this year in Wellandport and Wainfleet.
“We’re not done yet,” said Linda Rogers, MAWT director. “That’s the take home message from this. We are looking at other options carefully.”
Rogers said the decision was disappointing, but not unexpected. Despite several appeals filed by groups similar to MAWT — including the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group — only one has had a victory at the ERT level.
Paramount to MAWT’s claims are that the proposed project will cause serious harm to children’s health as well as the environment. Rogers said just because the ERT ruled otherwise, doesn’t mean the issues disappear.
“The issues don’t go away because of the decision,” she said. “The ERT has ruled consistently that there is insufficient evidence, that doesn’t mean there is no evidence.”
MAWT is hopeful a recent decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal will help their case. Last month, the appeals court ruled that a nine-turbine project in Prince Edward County put the threatened Blanding’s turtle at even more risk. The medium-sized turtle with a smile-like expression can be found in the footprint of the NRWC project. According to MAWT member Loretta Shields, who testified at January’s hearing, 20 of the 77 turbines are sited in known Blanding’s habitats. The appeals court ruled the network of roads required to construct and service the project would put the turtle at risk. MAWT argued the same was true in regards to the NRWC project, but the ERT ruled the issue was outside the scope of the appeal.
“There are no rules for wind developers,” said Rogers. “If you want to build a garage, you can’t do it. If you want to open a business, you can’t do it. But if you want to build a wind project, blast holes and tear up roads it’s game on.”
Rogers said her group is not giving up, but is taking a pause to regroup and decide on the next steps. Appealing the ERT decision is one option MAWT is considering.
“We are moms of children,” said Rogers. “Our goal has always been to protect our kids, protect our community and protect our environment.”