Does the Environmental Review Tribunal really understand “habitat”?

Massive clearing of vegetation in Prince Edward County wetland area prior to a stay motion being granted.
Massive clearing of vegetation in Prince Edward County wetland area prior to a stay motion being granted. Photo courtesy APPEC.

Statement from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) after the Environmental Review Tribunal decision yesterday, April 25.

Today the Environmental Review Tribunal issued a decision on APPEC’s motion for a stay on WPD’s proposed White Pines Wind Project.  The Tribunal has upheld APPEC’s motion in part, finding that vegetation clearing will cause irreparable harm to the Blanding’s turtle.  According to the Tribunal: “the Approval Holder’s vegetation clearing and site preparation activities in spring foraging habitat in the specific locations proposed for work in the Spring of 2016 will cause irreparable harm to Blanding’s turtles.”

While the Tribunal has put a stop to vegetation-clearing in the spring foraging habitat of these turtles it is silent with respect to the potential destruction of other types of habitat that are also critical to Blanding’s turtles, including their over-wintering habitat and oviposition habitat.  The decision does not bode well for these turtle which as we know use many types of habitats across the White Pines project site and depend on all of them for their survival.

For this reason we are disappointed.  We can only conclude that the Tribunal has an incomplete understanding of “significant habitat” and the importance of protecting all significant habitat, not merely one specific type.

The board is discussing the implications of the decision with our legal counsel and giving careful consideration to next steps.  More information will follow.

Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC

– See more including a link to the ERT decision at: http://savethesouthshore.org/ert-decides-in-favour-of-appecs-stay-motion-some-reservations-statement-by-orville-walsh/#sthash.K9g05Vu6.dpuf

 

New evidence submitted in Prince Edward County on endangered turtles

The Environmental Review Tribunal accepted new evidence of harm to the natural environment in the form of aerial photos and a statement from a turtle expert

Hang on turtles! Somebody cares (not the Ministry of the Environment)
Hang on turtles! Somebody cares (not the Ministry of the Environment)

 

Save The South Shore, April 8, 2016

Late this afternoon the Environmental Review Tribunal granted a temporary stay of WPD’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA).  As a result of the stay all construction work at the project site has been brought to a halt.  The Tribunal will schedule a written hearing at a later date to decide on the merits of a more permanent stay.

This long-awaited decision is the outcome of a tremendous effort by Eric Gillespie and Priya Vittal, who have worked tirelessly around the clock since Wednesday when the Tribunal issued its reasons related to our previous stay motion.

In giving its reasons the Tribunal indicated that a further motion could be brought to the Tribunal should new evidence become available.  Thanks to the efforts of many individuals and above all our legal counsel, this new evidence was submitted this morning in the form of photographs showing the level of destruction, an affidavit from a Blanding’s turtle expert that turtles are out of hibernation and moving across the project, and letters from local and national groups including the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

We have many to thank for this welcome news including those who attended the Court of Appeal hearing in Toronto on Wednesday.  The concern and public engagement left an impression which may have reached out past the courtroom.

The good news is that WPD has been ordered to stop all construction at its project site.

In the meantime however our legal bills are growing.

Donations can be made by cheque or by PayPal on APPEC’s website www.appec.ca.  Please make cheques payable to the South Shore Appeal Fund and mail to the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, P. O. Box 173, Milford, ON K0K 2P0.

Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC

– See more at: http://savethesouthshore.org/details-regarding-the-stay-statement-by-orville-walsh/#sthash.tWBt30B7.IpiXaqVk.dpuf

 

Motion for stay in White Pines wind farm granted by ERT

Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity this week[Photo: APPEC]
Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity this week[Photo: APPEC]
April 8, 2016, 5:45 PM

Just a few moments ago, the Environmental Review Tribunal released its decision in the matter of a motion for a stay of construction activities by power developer WPD Canada.

The decision is as follows:

“The Tribunal grants APPEC’s motion for an interim stay of the REA until the resolution of APPEC’s motion for a stay, with reasons to follow.”

The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) will have a statement soon.

 

 

No charges laid in wind farm methanol spill

Mehtanol spill on construction site [Photo: MCSEA]
Methanol spill on construction site: reported but the company says ‘it was vandals’ [Photo: MCSEA]
April 8, 2016

Community group the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA) has learned that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has not laid charges against a wind power developer after a methanol spill was reported on Manitoulin Island in 2014.

Chairman Ray Beaudry told Wind Concerns Ontario today that he followed up with MOECC Spills Investigator Angela Allen and was told that there was not enough proof to lay charges in connection with the spill at the work site for the McLean’s Mountain wind power project.

“I can’t believe it,” Beaudry told Wind Concerns.

“There was plenty of evidence at the site, but the developer claimed it was vandalism, or maybe someone using a snowmobile trail.

“It seems like with what’s happening in Prince Edward County this week [clearing vegetation in endangered Blandings turtle habitat, despite an ongoing appeal] these developers just get a pass on everything,” Beaudry said.

“I’m not sure what the public can do now when they see things damaging the environment like this.”

The original story carried in the Manitoulin Expositor on the toxic chemical spill may be found here.

 

Government lawyer derails citizen appeal to protect environment, endangered wildlife

Ministry of the Environment lawyer steps in as Prince Edward County citizens appealed for a stay of unauthorized construction activities in endangered turtle habitat

Massive clearing of vegetation in Prince Edward County wetland area. This project is still under appeal, but the developer has gone ahead
Massive clearing of vegetation in Prince Edward County wetland area. This project is still under appeal, but the developer has gone ahead [Photo: APPEC]
April 6, 2016, Picton, Ontario —

STATEMENT FROM ALLIANCE TO PROTECT PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY (APPEC)

First and foremost our great thanks to everyone who responded to our call to attend the Court of Appeal hearing.  The courtroom was filled to capacity with no seats left empty.  The numbers left an impression on all present from the judge to the security guards who were curious about what case all the commotion was about.  It was a packed courtroom by anyones’ standards and we thank all of you who made this possible.  Our special thanks to Mayor Quaiff and Warren Howard of Wind Concerns Ontario. 
 
However the outcome of today’s hearing is not what we had hoped for.  On our arrival we had hoped that Justice Katherine van Rensburg would hear our appeal and our new evidence including aerial photography of the destruction that has occurred at the White Pines project site since WPD began clearing vegetation two days ago, as depicted in one photograph attached. 
 
Instead Sylvia Davis, lawyer for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, cited a ruling from over fifty years ago that only a panel of three judges could hear an appeal of this nature.  It became clear at that point that the motion would not be heard until after the legal matter of whether this was properly before the court had been dealt with, with a potentially unfavourable decision. Rather than spend considerable time and money on legal wrangling the decision was made to withdraw our motion for a stay on all physical activity at the White Pines project site.  The motion was withdrawn on consent of all parties and without costs.
We have received the written reasons from the Environmental Review Tribunal for its original refusal of our stay motion.  We will immediately be going to the Tribunal to once again request a stay.  As the saying goes when one door closes, another opens.  More information will follow soon.
 
Lastly, there is a short article on the Wind Concerns website with another photograph of the after-effects of vegetation clearing at www.windconcernsontario.ca
  
Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC

Wind power developer clears endangered wildlife habitat, without approval

ToughonNature
April 6—
On Monday April 4, wind power developer WPD Canada began clearing trees for turbine sites for the White Pines project in southern Prince Edward County. This work began in areas known to be habitat for the endangered Blandings Turtle; the power developer is continuing even though there are reports that milder weather has resulted in the turtles emerging early from their winter hibernation, and are at great risk.
 
This clearing work is also taking place despite the recent decision by the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) to reverse the approval for the project on the grounds that it will cause serious and irreversible harm to the endangered Blandings Turtles. The ERT has not yet scheduled the next phase for the appeal process, which is hearings on remedy to the situation for the wildlife.
Until the Tribunal has reached a final decision, the power developer cannot have full approval to proceed with this project.
Please see the aerial photos provided by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC). APPEC will have a report shortly.
For more information on the legal fight, go to www.savethesouthshore.org
SSHore-3
SShoreDestruction-2

Mayors, citizen groups meet with Environmental Commissioner on wind farms

Citizens, municipal and provincial politicians and environmental groups met with Ontario Environmental Commissioner yesterday, detailing environmental, health and economic impacts from wind power projects and thousands of complaints about turbine noise. The Commissioner says she can’t do anything

Prince Edward County councillor Steve Ferguson and Mayor Robert Quaiff, and Warren Howard of Wind Concerns Ontario at the meeting table in Toronto yesterday [Photo: Todd Smith MPP]

April 5, 2016 TORONTO—

Wind Concerns Ontario was one of the presenters at a meeting in Toronto Monday with Ontario’s new Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe. The meeting was organized and led by MPP Lisa Thompson,  environment critic for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) introduced its presentation by stating that our members of the coalition of community groups and individuals are about the impact of industrial- or utility-scale wind power development on the economy, environment and human health. “That sounds like three things, but it isn’t,” President Jane Wilson told the Commissioner. “The environment is everything: it is the economy, it is the natural environment, and it is health.”

Warren Howard, in speaking for WCO, detailed the fact that Ontario’s noise regulations are inadequate to protect health, which is borne out by research including the Health Canada noise study and the Cape Bridgewater study, to name two. He said that WCO learned from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change that there are more than 2,700 files of noise complaints. Details have been requested under Freedom of Information from the Ministry but not produced after a year; the matter is now in the hands of Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner.

Wind Concerns told the Commissioner that it is not merely audible noise that is the problem but infrasound/low frequency noise that produces unique sensation among some individuals exposed to the emissions. The group referred to several individual locations as examples of problems such as Prince Edward County where an eminent acoustics specialist testified before the Environmental Review Tribunal that virtually everyone in that community would be exposed to the turbine noise emissions. WCO also mentioned the Niagara project where thousands of homes will be within 1.5 km of 77 industrial-scale turbines. By conservative estimates, as many as 1,000 people could be affected by exposure to the noise emissions.

WCO concluded its presentation by asserting that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is not fulfilling its mandate of ensuring a “healthy environment” for Ontarians. Wind Concerns asked the Commissioner for a full review of Ontario’s noise regulations under Section 61 under the Environmental Protection Act.

Other presenters made striking presentations including Barbara Ashbee of Victims of Wind, City of Kawartha Lakes councilor Heather Stauble, Prince Edward County councilor Steve Ferguson and  Robert Quaiff, Mayor of Prince Edward County, and Deputy Mayor Dutton-Dunwich, Bob Purcell. Representatives of citizens’ groups from Bruce County and Huron County also presented reports of environmental and health problems. There have been so many complaints of poor health from turbine noise emissions in Huron County, people told the Commissioner that, where the Health Unit has launched a formal investigation .

Mayor Quaiff detailed several environmental concerns about the two wind power projects proposed for Prince Edward County, saying that not only were the power plants to be built on land where endangered Blandings turtles and Little Brown Bats are found, the sites are also on important migratory pathways for birds. “Questions are not being answered,” he said, about the effects of materials used in turbine construction such as the reinforced steel bars and concrete foundations, which will leach into the water table. He added that the turbines will have a negative impact on the wineries locally, and the bird-watching areas. “The South Shore is the last undeveloped shoreline on Lake Ontario,” he said. “I think it should stay that way.”

MPPs Todd Smith, Laurie Scott and Jeff Yurek were also at the meeting.

In her closing remarks MPP Lisa Thompson said that while everyone wants to do the right thing for the environment, key parts of the wind power process are “not working.” “What is working,” MPP Thompson said, “is we have an Environmental Commissioner and I hope we can move forward.”

Commissioner Saxe said that her office is dealing with hundreds of issues and can realistically handle only five or six a year. She acknowledged “the passion” expressed in the meeting today but in the short term, she couldn’t do anything, and in the long term “we’ll have to see.”

MPP Thompson said that this serious issue is affecting “so many communities” that she hoped the Commissioner’s office would review all the information in the submissions presented.

(C) Wind Concerns Ontario

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Green energy done badly: stories from around the world

WEEKEND READING

April 2, 2016

We present a collection of stories that review the manner in which strategies that are supposedly positive for the environment have been enacted (usually without any sort of cost-benefit or full impact analysis), and what the results are to date.

From Terence Corcoran’s review in The Financial Post, to a review of German energy policy (this is a sad, sad story worthy of Dickens), an article in Prince Edward County’s Wellington Times (one of the last independent newspapers in Canada) on a wind power developer’s arrogance, and last, an opinion on what the real effect on the local environment green energy policies are in reality, the collection deserves a read … and consideration by the Ontario government.

Will they? In the words of the team of academics lead by the University of Ottawa’s Stewart Fast, writing recently about the disastrous implementation of the Green Energy Act on Ontario communities, “Our recommendations will unfortunately remain unaddressed, without further consideration or assessment of the lessons that could be learned.” [Fast et al. Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes, January, 2016]

Terence Corcoran, The Financial Post, “Clean, green, and catastrophic.” (Note: our Parker Gallant provided some figures for this article.)

Handelsblatt (Global edition) “How to kill an industry”. (Thanks to energy economist Robert Lyman in Ottawa for sending this in.)

Rick Conroy, The Wellington Times, “There’s always a catch.” (“The wolf has been sent to find out what’s killing all the lambs …” Conroy writes.)

Last, this letter to the editor of Ontario Farmer, excerpted here.

“Off-grid will make a bad situation worse for reluctant grid payees”

A farming friend recently took me on a “crop tour” of rural businesses that are partially or fully off-grid. We saw a sawmill, a pressed-steel manufacturer, a maker of wood-burning stoves, a cabinet-maker and an ethanol plant. Finding it progressively more difficult to remain profitable in the agricultural business with skyrocketing electrical costs, my friend is seriously looking at more cost-effective alternatives. If going off-grid works for others, perhaps it will work for him.

“Off-grid” means that these business owners are no longer victims of usurious hydro rates the Ontario Green Energy Act (GEA) has imposed on the vast majority who obtain electricity from Hydro One and other such utility companies. Are these enterprises trailblazers illuminating a path to greater energy independence for other beleaguered hydro ratepayers?

Or are they creating an even greater financial burden for those who remain on the grid?

And what may be the environmental impact if a great many businesses follow suit?

Operating the Ontario power grid has become exorbitantly expensive under the GEA. It is becoming ever more expensive as greater numbers of windmills spring up to further sully our rural landscapes. … Operating costs of a centralized generation and distribution system are borne by all users. The more users there are, the less share of fixed costs each user pays. Businesses fleeing to off-grid energy alternatives leave fewer users on-grid bearing fixed costs; thus, each user pays more. While going off-grid may financially benefit those who do it, greater economic burden falls on those remaining on-grid, and most have no choice.

Fossil fuels are the primary energy source for off-grid users. Electricity to run their businesses must be generated by some sort of power plant, typically an internal combustion engine driving and electrical generator. It’s far removed from the most cost-effective or environmentally friendly way to generate and distribute electricity —the way we used to do it — but the GEA has made grid power so prohibitively expensive off-grid generation has become economically viable for major energy users.

Dave Plumb

Belmont, Ontario

 

 

 

Decision on White Pines construction stands: Ontario Divisional Court

Court cannot rule when quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal gave no reasons for decision
Blandings turtles: endangered but not protected by Ontario government
Blandings turtles: endangered but not protected by Ontario government
Ontario Divisional Court ruled yesterday that it cannot overturn a decision made by the Environmental Review Tribunal, on the motion for a stay in construction activities for the White Pines power project in Prince Edward County. White Pines’ approval was overturned at appeal, and the ERT is now waiting on submissions for “remedy” hearings.
Here is a statement from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.
Late this afternoon we received word from the Ontario Divisional Court that our appeal of the motion for a stay has been dismissed. 
 
APPEC provided evidence from four expert witnesses of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles if WPD proceeds with vegetation clearing.  What APPEC could not provide to the Court however was the ERT’s reasons for its decision of last week to dismiss our stay as the ERT never provided reasons.  Justice Stewart noted in her decision that “the specific grounds of any such appeal are uncertain given the fact that reasons for the decision are still forthcoming.”   
 
By not providing any reasons for dismissing our motion for a stay the ERT has handcuffed APPEC in appealing its decisions.     
 
According to the Court this disposition is without prejudice to the entitlement of the Appellant (APPEC) to renew its motion if it so chooses “on a fuller record that will include the reasons for the Tribunal’s decision under appeal.”
Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC
To help with fundraising, or for more information on these proceedings and the fight in Prince Edward County, go to www.savethesouthshore.org
ToughonNature

Citizens to file appeal vs wind power developer over premature construction start

The White Pines’ wind power project by Germany-based wpd Canada had its approval overturned on appeal, and does not have a Notice To Proceed, but the developer has threatened to begin construction anyway.

Prince Edward County residents appeal to the court
Prince Edward County residents appeal to the court

This notice is from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, on the Save The South Shore website.

March 25, 2016, PICTON —

Earlier today APPEC’s legal counsel Eric Gillespie notified WPD and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change of APPEC’s intent to appeal the ERT’s dismissal of our stay motion.

This legal action is considered to be necessary following the ERT’s decision this week to not allow APPEC’s motion.  WPD still plans to start construction on the White Pines wind project.  In WPD’s own words: “We are entitled to begin vegetation clearing immediately.”  We strongly disagree.

APPEC will be making an application as an urgent matter to the Ontario Divisional Court.  Our intent is to submit the application at the beginning of next week.

During the past few weeks we have received many messages of encouragement.  Your support is always appreciated but especially so when faced with a developer that is determined to destroy the natural and cultural heritage of our community for its own financial gain.

Regards,
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC

appec.wordpress.com

– See more at: http://savethesouthshore.org/appec-will-be-making-an-application-as-an-urgent-matter-to-the-ontario-divisional-court-orville-walsh/#sthash.zfdjkJBb.dpuf