Wind power resistance groups meet in Prince Edward County this weekend

Wind Concerns Ontario and member community groups meet this weekend

Industrial-scale wind power doesn't help the environment, community groups say
Industrial-scale wind power doesn’t help the environment, community groups say

Coalition building

Wellington Times, March 9, 2016

Rick Conroy

Jane Wilson says a shift has occurred over the past five years in the way wind energy is talked about in Ontario. The chair of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of groups opposed to wind energy in this province, senses greater awareness of the negative impacts of industrial wind energy among voters, the mainstream media, and politicians.

Wilson will be in the County this weekend, chairing Wind Concerns Ontario’s annual general meeting and speaking at the CCSAGE (County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy) meeting on Sunday.

“Everyone wants the best for the environment,” said Wilson, “but the way the Ontario government has gone about it has been viewed as undemocratic and destructive to both the economy and to consumers’ pocketbooks.”

Soaring electricity bills, persistent charges of mismanagement by the province’s Auditor General, and mounting evidence of the toll industrial wind turbines are exacting on wildlife—particularly endangered bats and turtles — is changing the conversation. Nevertheless, the damage already inflicted on consumers and the natural environment will be long-lasting, predicts Wilson.

“This [the December 2015 report] was the second Auditor General report that found that Ontario failed to do any cost-benefit analysis before embarking down this path,” said Wilson. “Perhaps if that had been done we wouldn’t be paying among North America’s highest electricity rates, and we wouldn’t be enduring these harmful environmental effects.”

“What has been happening in Prince Edward County has been very instructive,” said Wilson. “The [Environmental Review] Tribunals have uncovered deep problems.”

Wind Concerns Ontario is holding its annual general meeting for members in Wellington on Sunday morning — a first for the County. In the afternoon, Wilson will speak to a gathering of CCSAGE at the Waring House in Picton.

The WCO chair laments the way renewable energy has been thrust into rural Ontario –and local decision-making removed.

“It is tearing some communities apart,” said Wilson, who lives in North Gower just outside of Ottawa. She points to once peaceful and quiet communities divided by the money developers use to lure municipal support.

“It’s not illegal,” said Wilson, “but developers are now dangling many thousands of dollars in front of small rural councils, essentially telling them that if they want this money, they must pass a resolution of support.”

“People wish Ontario had pursued renewable energy goals more cautiously,” says Wilson, “that they had started with small projects — and measured their impacts. They could have helped Ontarians with geothermal heating or innovative conservation steps.

“If they had put money into these types of projects rather than filling the pockets of huge corporate wind power developers, I think we would be in a different place.”

(C)Wellington Times 2016

Eastern Ontario wind farm contracts a ‘betrayal’ municipalities say

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: 'engagement' didn't mean 'approval'. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: ‘engagement’ didn’t mean ‘approval’. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
Ottawa Citizen, March 11, 2016

The Ontario government has betrayed rural municipalities by approving new wind farms in places that have explicitly voted against them, mayors say — including just east of Ottawa.

“Since we declared ourselves unwilling hosts, we thought we had it made,” says François St. Amour, mayor of The Nation Municipality. “Because there was some talk in the last provincial election that they would honour municipalities that declared themselves unwilling. But I guess that was just another electoral promise.”

The agency that makes the province’s deals for renewable power is readying a contract for a 32-megawatt wind farm there, one of a bunch of bids from private generating companies it’s just accepted. The other in Eastern Ontario is the biggest of the group, a 100-megawatt project in North Stormont.

Both Eastern Ontario councils took votes in 2015 to say they did not want the wind farms on their territories.

The province’s Green Energy Act, meant to kickstart an Ontario industry in manufacturing and maintaining renewable energy technology, gave virtually no say to local governments on where wind and solar farms might go. Many rural residents believed, and still do, they’re being sacrificed for the electricity needs of cities.

The government pulled back. Under the province’s new rules, municipalities don’t get veto power over renewable energy projects but they do formally get asked to say whether new wind or solar farms are welcome or not. Ottawa’s city council regularly votes its formal support for small solar projects, which is worth extra points when would-be operators submit their bids.

“It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement,” energy minister and Ottawa MPP Bob Chiarelli told a legislature committee in 2013.

“Engagement.” Not “agreement.”

“We will not give a veto, and no jurisdiction gives a veto, to a municipality on any kind of public infrastructure. That should have been clear to them,” Chiarelli says. Wind farms in rural Ontario are like tall buildings downtown, he says: immediate neighbours may hate them but they’re still needed.

Thirteen of the 16 new contracts got local council approval. All of the ones that didn’t are wind farms — the two here and one in Dutton-Dunwich, between London and Windsor, where residents took the issue up in a referendum and voted 84 per cent against. Two wind farms are going to Chatham-Kent, whose council voted to support them.

“They’ve put municipalities on the sidelines. It seems, though, that municipalities get most of the grief,” St. Amour says. His council first voted in favour of the wind farm in The Nation without a whole lot of thought, he says, treating it like the solar farms councillors have welcomed in the past. Councillors changed their minds after hearing from residents.

“It was rough on council last summer. It was really, really rough. Especially because we can’t do much about it. We thought declaring unwilling hosts was it,” St. Amour says.

Mayor Dennis Fife of North Stormont says his council thought the same. “At one time, the government said that if you came out with something saying you were an unwilling host, that would be respected, but that wasn’t the case,” he says.

Read the full story here.

Six appeals filed against contentious Clearview wind farm

An insult to the community, says a councillor. Issues include aviation safety, economic impact, planning control

Small airplane on runway

By Gisele Winton Sarvis, PostMedia

Barrie Examiner, March 9, 2016

CLEARVIEW TWP. – Six separate appeals have been filed to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) against its approval of the wpd Canada project to construct eight 500-ft wind turbines east of Stayner.

At the Feb. 29 Clearview council meeting, Deputy Mayor Barry Burton said that in addition to appeals filed by Clearview Township, the Town of Collingwood and the County of Simcoe, appeals have also been filed from Kevin and Gail Elwood, the Wiggins Group and Preserve Clearview Ltd.

Burton didn’t discuss the topic any further but later in the meeting, council was reluctant to even receive the lengthy wpd Fairview Wind Project Renewable Energy Approval (REA) document for information.

“This is in no way accepting the report, it’s just for information,” said Burton, who chaired the meeting.

The municipality is opposed to the project due to concerns over public safety as the closest wind turbine is just more than 3,000 metres from the end of the runway at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

In addition, plans for the Clearview Aviation Park is expected to attract business and potentially hundreds of jobs in the aeronautic industry and therefore expand use of the airport. A study commissioned by the municipality, found that turbine construction would put the economic development project in jeopardy.

Clearview fought and received intervenor status in a court case between wpd Canada and the MOECC in order to voice its opposition to the project.

But on Feb. 11, the day before the case was to be heard, the MOECC granted wpd approval to construct the turbines.

‘This has to be stopped’

Coun. Thom Paterson said during the council meeting, “This is the kind of insult many municipalities feel in this process. We can make the concerns known and be ignored… This has to be stopped. Many municipalities have made that known. Hopefully the government will start to listen.

“Here’s a another example of your government not listening to your municipality,” he said.

Following the meeting, Burton said the municipality is “forced” to go to the appeal route because they didn’t get their day in court.

“Premier Wynne talked about how unwilling communities would get their say and that wind turbines wouldn’t be forced upon them and that’s exactly what’s happening in Clearview. They are being forced upon us,” he said.

“And when we tried to have a proper hearing and spent money in the process, they bailed at the last minute and caved into wpd, so it’s very disappointing,” he said.

“I don’t feel the province has done its due diligence.”

Read the full story here.

APPEC files motion for a stay against power developer WPD

Tribunal rules serious and irreversible harm to wildlife will result from wind farm, power developer proceeds with construction anyway

Still fighting: County residents at Mount Tabor to protest wind power projects
Still fighting: County residents at Mount Tabor to protest wind power projects

Belleville Intelligencer, March 8. 2016

By Bruce Bell, The County Weekly News

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – 

Not so quick wpd Canada.
Only days after an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), ruled the 27-turbine White Pines wind energy development would cause irreversible harm to wildlife, including Blanding’s Turtles, wpd Canada informed the appellants the company intended to commence with site preparation — namely clearing of brush — as early as next week.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County has responded quickly, filing a motion requesting a stay of any work on the site until the ERT has resolved the issue.
In its decision, the ERT ruled the development would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtles and Little Brown Bats, suspending wpd Canada’s Renewable Energy Approval, pending remediation hearings.
In a letter to local resident John Hirsch and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) as well as the director of  Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, wpd informed them of their intent to begin clearing brush on March 14.
“We are appalled by wpd’s chosen course of action (as) it is fundamentally disrespectful of the appeal process not to mention an ERT decision that to anyone’s mind would bring the White Pines wind project to a grinding halt,” said APPEC president Orville Walsh. “Instead, just four days after the tribunal issued its decision to uphold the appeal, wpd is behaving as though the decision does not apply to them.
“Vegetation clearing for turbines and access roads will cause irreparable environmental destruction. Of particular concern is the impact of heavy machinery that will be brought in on Blanding’s turtle habitat, where most of the wind turbines are located, and on Blanding’s turtles themselves as they emerge from their over-wintering sites early this year after a mild fall and winter.”
APPEC’s legal counsel has responded quickly submitting a motion requesting the ERT to issue a stay of all physical activity associated with this Renewable Energy Approval until this matter has been resolved by the Tribunal.

Read the full story here.

WPD announces plan to clear vegetation in Prince Edward County, despite successful appeal against wind farm

"Vegetation clearing" and road construction in Algoma in 2015. [Photo: Gord Benner]
“Vegetation clearing” and road construction in Algoma in 2015. [Photo: Gord Benner]
“Fundamentally disrespectful”: Environmental Review Tribunal finds for the appellant in wind farm fight over endangered wildlife: developer decides to clear trees anyway

From the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, this announcement.

March 6, 2016

wpd has notified APPEC, John Hirsch and the Director of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change of its plans to begin clearing vegetation for its wind project.  In an email early last week wpd stated that: “Further to the Tribunal’s decision dated February 26, 2016, I write to advise that wpd intends to proceed with vegetation clearing of private property on the Project site commencing on March 14, 2016.”

We are appalled by wpd’s chosen course of action.  It is fundamentally disrespectful of the appeal process not to mention an ERT decision that to anyone’s mind would bring the White Pines wind project to a grinding halt.  Instead, just four days after the Tribunal issued its decision to uphold the appeal, wpd is behaving as though the decision does not apply to them. 

Vegetation clearing for turbines and access roads will cause irreparable environmental destruction.  Of particular concern is the impact of heavy machinery that will be brought in on Blanding’s turtle habitat, where most of the wind turbines are located, and on Blanding’s turtles themselves as they emerge from their over-wintering sites early this year after a mild fall and winter.

APPEC’s legal counsel has responded quickly submitting a motion requesting the ERT to issue a stay of all physical activity associated with this Renewable Energy Approval until this matter has been resolved by the Tribunal. 

APPEC, Mr. Hirsch and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) note the similarities between wpd’s attempt to start on construction while an appeal is underway and a prior attempt by Gilead Power to do the same at Ostrander Point.  In this instance the Ontario Court of Appeal had no hesitation in granting a stay on construction in order to prevent irreparable harm.  We are confident that wpd’s attempt will meet with the same outcome. 

Given the urgency of this motion we would expect that the Tribunal will issue a decision without delay.

Regards,

Orville Walsh

President, APPEC


Wind power site “poorly chosen” : Environmental Review Tribunal

Power developer admits it was unaware of degree of risk to endangered wildlife

Toronto Star, February 29, 2016

By:

John Hirsch, a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, filed an appeal of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines wind turbine approval. The appeal was upheld.
John Hirsch: appellant with Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County against WPD wind project
Blessed are the small and humble, for they, it seems, shall halt wind turbines.

In the latest instalment of the epic machine vs. nature struggle being played out in Prince Edward County, environmental activists have scored another victory against construction of wind turbines they say will do serious and irreversible harm to already endangered species.  This time, in a ruling released Feb. 26, an Environmental Review Tribunal upheld an appeal against a turbine development it concluded posed serious risk to the Little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle.

Last July 16, the Ontario Environment Ministry issued an approval to White Pines Wind Inc. to install and operate a facility of 27 turbines on the pristine south shore of what locals call the County. As it happens, a man named John Hirsch was scouting property in the County at the time for he and his wife to move to after wrapping up a career in customs consulting.

Hirsch had already become a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, one of the most important bird-banding stations in Canada. He suspected — even before eventually buying property in another part of the County — that the White Pines proposal would profoundly alter the south shore. He was also, owing to his career in customs administration, quite familiar with tribunals.

By July 29, Hirsch had filed an appeal — “it’s not all that complicated” — of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines approval, getting in a day ahead of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward Country.

“It turns out a case gets named after whoever gets in first,” he told the Star on Monday. “That’s why the case is named Hirsch v Ontario.”

“We didn’t think we were going to win”

While Hirsch, 66, might have got top billing, the alliance “came to the rescue,” he said, with funding, legal representation and recruitment of expert witnesses. During November and December, Hirsch, who now works part-time at Home Depot in Belleville, sat through 21 days of hearings, after which he wasn’t terribly confident of the outcome.

“Were we expecting this? No!” he said. “We didn’t think we were going to win. We didn’t get the birds. But we got the bats!”

The tribunal dismissed appeals on the grounds of human health risks. It also rejected appeals on the threat to birds, although it did call the project site “poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.”

The panel upheld the appeal because of the risk of serious and irreversible harm to the Little Brown Bat and Blanding’s Turtle.  …

Read the full story here.

ToughonNature

 

Wind farm will cause serious irreversible harm to wildlife, Tribunal finds

South Shore of Prince Edward County: [Photo Court Noxon, courtesy Point To Point Foundation]
South Shore of Prince Edward County: [Photo Court Noxon, courtesy Point To Point Foundation]
The decision on the appeal of the White Pines wind power project in Prince Edward County was released yesterday: the Environmental Review Tribunal found for the appellant and the environment (in part), in that serious and irreversible harm would result to the endangered Blandings turtle and the little brown bat. The Tribunal also noted risk to migratory birds.

This is a victory for a very hard-fought battle as members of this community fought to save the environment from Ontario’s own Ministry of the Environment.

See the decision in various formats here.

Statement from Orville Walsh, president of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County:

We are pleased to announce that APPEC’s appeal of wpd’s White Pines Wind Project has been upheld in part.  The Tribunal has found that the White Pines project will cause serious and irreversible harm to Little Brown Bats and to the Blanding’s turtle.   
 
The Tribunal did not find serious and irreversible harm to human health, to hydrology or to migratory birds. However in regards to the latter the Tribunal did note that this wind project presents a significant risk of serious harm to migrating birds and that the project site was poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.
We are cautiously elated!  The Tribunal acknowledges that engaging in this wind project in accordance with the REA (Renewable Energy Approval) will cause serious and irreversible harm to animal life.  Therefore wpd no longer has an REA to stand behind.  
 
The ERT has ordered a hearing of submissions with respect to potential remedies. 
 
The board will be studying the decision over the weekend and following consultation with our legal counsel Eric Gillespie, will have more information to give you next week. 
 
Orville Walsh
President, APPEC
Please go to the Save the South Shore website for information on how to donate toward the legal costs of this fight for the environment. The work done by the community groups in Prince Edward County, Eric K. Gillespie’s legal team, and the witness statements benefit everyone in Ontario.
ToughonNature

Collingwood fears for aviation safety, to appeal wind farm

A plane hitting a turbine or being blown off course would meet [the test] for serious harm to human health, says lawyer

Simcoe.com February 18, 2016

Collingwood Regional Airport

Collingwood Regional Airport: an appeal will cost more than $100,000

The Town of Collingwood will be appealing the province’s decision to approve a wind farm south of Stayner near the Collingwood Regional Airport.

In a unanimous decision on Thursday evening, council instructed its legal counsel to draft and file a notice of appeal of the decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Last week, the province approved WPD Canada’s plan to construct and operate eight turbines west of Stayner.

Council received a presentation from its lawyer, Richard Butler of Willms & Shier. He said of the 199 renewable energy projects in Ontario, only two have been rejected. He said 120 have been appealed and only two have been overturned.

“The vast majority of appeals are either abandoned or unsuccessful,” he said.

The Environmental Review Tribunal is an arm’s length body that has the authority to confirm, amend or revoke a decision. He said appeals must be based on two criteria: the decision will cause serious harm to human health, or cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.

“I think applications and approvals really speak to the uphill battle that opponents of wind projects face,” he said.

Butler said Collingwood would likely be appealing on the basis the turbines would cause harm to human health.

“A plane hitting or blown off course would meet serious harm to human health,” he said.

Butler said the municipality would likely need a risk assessment completed, which would determine the likelihood of a plane hitting a turbine. He said this could be done within a matter of weeks.

The town would need to prove “more likely or not, during the lifetime of the turbines, there would be a collision.”

Read the full story here.

Amherst Island raises funds to protect environment

Citizens engaged in an appeal of the approval of a huge wind power project that will threaten wildlife and change a heritage landscape

Owls, Blandings turtle, and migratory birds all at risk from Amherst Island power project
Owls, Blandings turtle, and migratory birds all at risk from Amherst Island power project

February 17, 2016

The Association to Protect Amherst Island has formally launched a fund-raising campaign to assist with its legal actions against the huge Windlectric wind power project. An appeal is underway, with more hearings scheduled before the Environmental Review Tribunal in coming weeks, and a Judicial Review has been filed, based on details of the approval of the power project despite clear inaccuracies and inadequacies in the application.

More details:

The MOECC approved Windlectric’s Renewable Energy Application on August 24, 2015. Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro, approved an Overall Benefit Permit on the same day to allow Windlectric destroy the habitat of grassland birds on the Island.


Turbines are planned beside the world famous Owl Woods. Located on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway, the Island is a refuge for 11 species of Owls, wintering raptors, and grassland birds. 34 Species at Risk will be impacted.


The Ontario government claims to be a leader in environmental action but approval of a huge wind power project on Amherst Island will harm, not help the environment, say community leaders. “Approval of this turbine project indicates the hypocrisy of the government’s wind power program,” says Michele Le Lay, spokesperson for Association to Protect Amherst Island. “Constructing and operating wind turbines here will do great harm to the natural environment.”

 

After just one day, the group had raised over $2,600 toward its goal of $200,000.

Go to the fund-raising website here.

Planned devastation of Amherst Island, wildlife and Ontario economy
Planned devastation of Amherst Island, wildlife and Ontario economy

Marine safety an issue in Amherst Island appeal

The water flows are the circulatory system for the entire ecosystem, biologist tells Tribunal.

AI-interior-wide-1-
Aquatic biologist Les Stanfield testifies before the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing of an appeal to 26-turbine project on Amherst Island. Stanfield was critical of a consultant’s report examining water flow on the small island. “You must understand how the water flows to assess the risk of such a project on wetlands, plants, reptiles and amphibians,” said Stanfield. “These are vital corridors. They are the circulatory system of the entire ecosystem.” Photo: Wellington Times

The Wellington Times, February 12, 2016

Amherst Island residents see industrial wind turbines as an assault on their way of life

It is surely an understatement to say life on Amherst Island is highly dependent on the ferry that steams across the channel twice an hour between Millhaven and this teardrop of land situated just a few kilometres east of the tip of Cressy Bayside.

There is no gas station. No place to buy bread or milk. For some the 400 residents who live on this small island (20 kilometres long and seven kilometres wide), the isolation is an acquired lifestyle—bearing the promise of quiet and solitude. For others, it is all they have ever known.

Everyone relies, in one way or another, on the ferry for the essentials of life. So when an Oakville-based industrial wind developer first proposed constructing dozens of the massive machines on the island, the first searing concern was what a major industrial project would mean to their connection to the mainland.

They were assured that part of the approval process would include a Marine Safety and Logistics Plan—detailing how turbines would be transported across the channel and the measures established to protect the ferry lane.

But no Marine Safety and Logistics Plan was ever produced. Nevertheless, the developer Windlectric—a subsidiary of Algonquin Power—obtained a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

Residents and members of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) appealed the REA. Currently, an Environmental Review Tribunal is hearing the matter in a country church on the island. But they won’t hear about the lack of a marine safety plan—

Read the full story here.

Amherst Island ferry:If the power project proceeds, it will be accompanied by barges carrying fuel and construction material
Amherst Island ferry: If the power project proceeds, it will be accompanied by barges carrying fuel and construction material