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.
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.
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.
Approval was overturned in by Environmental Review Tribunal but wind power developer announced plans to clear vegetation anyway; the Tribunal has dismissed community groups’ motion for a stay
Here is the announcement from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County
As you know APPEC submitted a motion for a stay stopping all physical activity in the White Pines project area. The stay motion that was submitted to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) on March 5, was considered necessary after WPD notified APPEC that it would start clearing vegetation at the project site the following week.
We received notice from the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) yesterday that our stay motion has been dismissed. The Tribunal did not provide any reasons for dismissal.
We are of course very disappointed with the decision. But we are also disappointed in the Tribunal itself. In denying APPEC’s motion for a stay the Tribunal is putting APPEC in the bizarre position of defending its successful appeal of the White Pines wind project at the ERT at the very same time the project is begin constructed.
APPEC is currently examining possible courses of action and will use all legal means available to prevent WPD from carrying out its plans. We will continue to work with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and CCSAGE-Naturally Green to prevent this destruction of the natural and cultural environment.
BATH — The two sides fighting it out at the Amherst Island Environmental Review Tribunal sparred over the qualifications of an expert witness Friday morning.
Andrew Taylor, an ecologist with Stantec Consulting, the company that performed environmental studies for the proposed wind energy project, had been called to testify on behalf of Windlectric, which has received conditional approval from the Ontario government to build up to 26 wind turbines on Amherst Island. Taylor was called to provide testimony about the impact the project could have on bats and turtles on the island.
Windlectric lawyer Arlen Sternberg said Taylor was qualified to testify about the project’s potential impact specifically on birds, bats and turtles.
“He’s got a lot of experience he has developed on those topics over the years,” Sternberg said.
Eric Gillespie, the lawyer for the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), had opposed Taylor’s expert qualification and instead wanted him declared a witness with experience in wildlife.
In the end, tribunal member Robert Wright ruled Taylor could be considered an expert witness on the effects on wildlife of wind energy projects, but he did not specifically label him an expert on birds, bats and the Blanding’s turtle.
Sternberg had noted earlier in the morning that Taylor has testified at five other ERTs as an expert witness and has studied the impact on wildlife at the pre- and post-construction stages of wind energy projects.
Sternberg said Taylor was more qualified than many expert witnesses called by APAI.
Under questioning from Sternberg, Taylor said he has performed wildlife studies at 19 large construction projects, including nine wind energy projects, and had delivered testimony at previous ERTs.
“This tribunal has accepted him five other times as an expert witness,” Sternberg said.
Earlier in the hearing, Taylor provided expert testimony about the impact of wind energy projects on birds.
A 2013 study from Stantec stated there are no Blanding’s turtles on Amherst Island. Island residents have testified earlier in the tribunal that they have seen Blanding’s turtles on the island.
APAI’s lawyer Gillespie admitted that it is rare to challenge the qualifications on an expert witness, but he noted that Taylor was not accepted as an expert witness at the 2013 Ostrander Point ERT. Gillespie argued that little has changed in Taylor’s qualifications since then that would make him an expert witness in this hearing.
“We say nothing has changed,” Gillespie said. “It’s the same Andrew Taylor who is standing here.”
No stay decision yet, developer and ministry make plans
wpd Canada sent this photo to show what kind of machinery they’ll be using. Nice.
The Wellington Times, March 17, 2016
Many eyes will be watching the countryside south of Milford today, looking for signs of heavy equipment arriving to clear the land of not-yet-budding vegetation. As of Monday, there was no decision on a motion for stay in construction activity on the industrial wind project site.
The developer, wpd Canada, advised the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) and John Hirsch, appellants of the project at an Environmental Review Tribunal that it intended to commence vegetation destruction this week—despite the Tribunal’s decision that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to two endangered species, the Blanding’s turtle and the little brown bat.
APPEC responded immediately seeking a halt on all physical activity at the site. Other parties have said they wish to be heard on the matter so the Tribunal has allowed a few days this week to hear those submissions.
In the meantime, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has advised the developer it must complete a stormwater management plan before construction begins.
wpd Canada spokesperson Kevin Surette says that report has been completed and his company is awaiting the MOECC’s signal to begin clearing the land.
“The intent of the notice provided to APPEC on March 1st was to make them aware that vegetation clearing could occur anytime after March 14,” said Surette. “MOECC has indicated the Stormwater Management Plan must be approved prior to vegetation clearing; it has been submitted, and it could be approved at anytime.”
Remember that this is a project that has been stopped by a Tribunal—yet wpd Canada and the MOECC continue to go about development of this project as though nothing has changed.
But APPEC and a variety of conservation groups are sounding an alarm about the devastation that will result for the habitat of vulnerable species that reside in and around the targeted area.
“wpd Canada will be clearing significant wildlife habitat for endangered species such as the Blanding’s turtle and endangered grassland species such as the whip-poor-will, eastern meadowlark and bobolink,” said Orville Walsh, APPEC chair. …
Wind Concerns Ontario and member community groups meet this weekend
Wellington Times, March 9, 2016
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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. …