Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Three municipal governments are among the appellants fighting the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and wind power developer, Germany-based wpd Canada. At issue, aviation safety and the economic survival of Collingwood (the latter not allowed as basis for an appeal.)
May 16, 2016
Six tables of lawyers make up the front of the room as the appeal against the Fairview Wind power project begins in Collingwood, Ontario. The Environmental Tribunal members for this appeal are Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins.
Already there are problems as both the Ministry of the Environment and the power developer have missed deadline for their evidence submissions related to aviation safety issues.
The power developer is claiming it cannot force the federal government to provide information for this appeal.
More details when available.
Hearings are scheduled for May 16, then 18-20, at the Collingwood Curling Club.
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.
MANVERS TWP – Ward 16 Councillor Heather Stauble provided an update on the status of three industrial wind turbine projects proposed in Manvers Township.
Coun. Stauble emailed This Week, noting the fight continues to try and block the projects, which have met fierce opposition from residents in Bethany and Pontypool, especially since several of the turbines will be built on the provincially-protected Oak Ridges Moraine.
Residents and community groups have fought for several years, mounting legal challenges alleging the turbines can cause significant harm to water, wildlife, the environment and human health.
In spite of efforts to protect this area on the Oak Ridges Moraine, the City was ordered by the Divisional Court (court file 37/15) to provide access and issue permits to the site. The City appealed to the Court of Appeal and will be heard in early May. However, in the meantime, the developer has the legal authority to clear the road allowance.
wpd Canada has notified the City that it intends to start clearing trees along Wild Turkey Road, starting on Saturday, April 23.
Take pictures before it’s gone forever–Councillor Stauble
Coun. Stauble wrote, “For those of you who have enjoyed the peace and quiet of Wild Turkey Road, go and take one more walk and lots of pictures before it is gone forever.”
Capstone Infrastructure has provincial approval for two wind farms in the area.
– Settlers Landing (Pontypool)
The Environmental Review Tribunal adjourned after the Tribunal did find there would be “serious and irreversible harm.” The wind company now has an opportunity to present a “remedy” to the Tribunal.
Settlers Landing is one of only two projects where the ERT did find serious and irreversible harm.
The ERT Hearing on Settlers Landing will take place at the Pontypool Community Centre on Monday, April 25 at 11 a.m.; Tuesday, April 26 at 9 a.m.; Wednesday, April 27 at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday, April 28, at 9 a.m.
Snowy Ridge (North side of Hwy 7A – east of Hwy 35):
Capstone has given a Notice that it needs to change its REA for Snowy Ridge to increase the construction and lay down areas, re-route roads and distribution system.
Donations to help with the legal challenges are appreciated. For info re Settlers Landing – Dave Bridges at firstname.lastname@example.org. For Snowy Ridge contact Ron Awde, email@example.com or Manvers Wind Concerns: www.gofundme.com/gzpxr22k.
Onus of proof that there is no harm should be on the wind power developers, say appellants
News release from Grey Highlands Wind Concerns
WIND TURBINES NEVER PROVEN SAFE!
Municipality of Grey Highlands, April 18, 2016 – Lawyers for Gary Fohr will appear before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in London on Tuesday April 19, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. to argue an appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to affirm the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change’s decision to approve the Grey Highlands Clean Energy industrial wind turbine project in the Municipality.
Mr. Fohr is a resident of the Municipality of Grey Highlands and a member of the local advocacy group, Grey Highland Wind Concerns (GHWC). Falconers LLP of Toronto is representing Mr. Fohr.
GHWC’s appeal is based on the assertion that the Environmental Review Tribunal made an error in law that misinterpreted an earlier Superior court ruling. The Superior court ruling stated that the Tribunal must follow its statutory mandate and make a positive determination that a wind turbine project will not cause relevant harm prior to confirming the approval of the project. The Tribunal found that there is presently no scientific basis to prove that industrial wind turbine installations are safe for Ontario residents.
“The expert witnesses who testified at the ERT for the government and the wind company agreed under cross examination that there are no long term peer reviewed studies to prove that wind turbines are safe for citizens of Ontario living in the vicinity of the wind projects.” said Gary Fohr, the appellant in this appeal as well as the original ERT appeal.
Mr. Fohr is the president of the Brewster Lake Home Owner’s Association and a member of GHWC. “The Ontario government requires citizens to prove that wind turbines are harmful to human health and/or the environment yet the big wind companies and the Ministry are incapable of proving the safety of large industrial wind turbines for people or the environment. For example, drug companies are required to prove the safety of their products before releasing them to the public, yet the Ontario government does not hold the wind industry accountable for the safety of industrial turbines,” said Mr. Fohr.
Doug Dingeldein, a spokesperson for GHWC, agreed. “To date, the onus has been on citizens to provide proof of harm to human health and/or the environment. That’s an almost impossible hurdle for any citizen to overcome. We know from lots of anecdotal evidence that people are being harmed. If a Superior Court decision shifts the onus to establish safety onto the wind companies, then perhaps there will finally be some relief for embattled citizens and municipalities,” Mr. Dingeldein said.
The nine-turbine project will be located less than one kilometer from the community of Brewster Lake in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. The 130 residents in the community are concerned that the turbines will cause the same negative health impacts already experienced by citizens in other Ontario communities who live near industrial wind turbines.
In December 2014, The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (higher Court) in a ruling indicated that the Environmental Review Tribunal is required to engage in a two step analysis on appeals of wind turbine projects. While an Appellant is required to show that the project will cause harm (step 1), the Tribunal must also be satisfied that the project will NOT CAUSE harm (step 2).
Recent evidence that came out of the appeal of Gary Fohr showed that while the scientific evidence has been unable to conclusively demonstrate harm, the experts for the wind company and the government agreed that there is NO SCIENTIFIC DATA available to demonstrate that wind turbines do NOT CAUSE harm. The Fohr appeal has been joined with our appeal. We, as well as the court, will have the benefit of the Fohr evidence at our appeal.
The provincial government has recently approved more industrial wind projects into Ontario communities who were unwilling hosts. More projects are slated for 2017. On Monday, we have an opportunity to make a difference.
We appreciate your support, your attendance and your financial contributions.
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.
– See more at: http://savethesouthshore.org/details-regarding-the-stay-statement-by-orville-walsh/#sthash.tWBt30B7.IpiXaqVk.dpuf
Ministry of the Environment lawyer steps in as Prince Edward County citizens appealed for a stay of unauthorized construction activities in endangered turtle habitat
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
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.