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

WPD contentious Fairview wind power project approved at 11th hour

Ontario was hours away from a court hearing when it granted approval for the Fairview wind power project
Ontario was hours away from a court hearing when it granted approval for the Fairview wind power project

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change yesterday announced the approval of the Fairview Wind “Farm” in Clearview Township, Simcoe County (EBR 012-0614). The power developer is WPD Canada, a division of the WPD group, headquartered in Germany.

The Fairview project was hours away from a hearing as a result of a writ of mandamus, in which a request is made of the court to order a government body to perform a duty. In this case, WPD wanted the government to issue an approval of the project, which it had not done. The FIT or Feed In Tariff contract had actually expired in December, but the writ was filed earlier in 2015.

WPD threatened legal action in the case of the White Pines project in Prince Edward County, where approval took many years due a number of environmental issues associated with the power project.

The Fairview power project was the subject of a consultants’ report which concluded that the wind power project would pose a danger to aviation safety, and would have a negative impact on the economy locally. The power project would only serve “narrow private interests,” the consultants wrote.

The power project was also the subject of private litigation several years ago, when local property owners tried to sue for loss of property value and nuisance. The court found that there was some substance to their concerns, and that property values might have already been affected simply by announcement of the proposed project,  but in any event, ruled that the property owners could not properly sue until the project was actually approved.

That would be now.

Insiders say that the government had expressed concerns about the Fairview project which is why approval had been delayed. Has the government “blinked” against the power wind industry and actually thrown this fight to the public to deal with via appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal, and the courts?

Ontario’s energy management policy reveals itself to be more convoluted and bizarre, every day.

Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson was quick to comment on the danger to public safety posed by the Fairview power project.

At present, only the North Kent I and Henvey Inlet projects remain without approval. For the list please see the project tracking document by Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) executive member Orville Walsh here: REA Status Update Feb 11 2016

Wind power developer sues Ontario over contentious project

The Thunder Bay area project was opposed by the Fort William First Nation and the community

Another beautiful Ontario location: perfect for power machines, right?
The Nor’Wester Escarpment–Another beautiful Ontario location: perfect for power machines, right?

Wind farm dead, but law suit alive

Chronicle-Herald, February 10, 2016

BY CARL CLUTCHEY NORTH SHORE BUREAU chroniclejournal.com

The Toronto energy company that proposed to build an ill-fated wind farm on the Nor’Westers escarpment is proceeding with a $50-million lawsuit against the Ontario government, despite having dropped an appeal of a provincial decision against the project.

“Upon careful consideration, we have decided to not appear before (Ontario’s) Environmental Review Tribunal, and instead pursue a remedy at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,” Horizon Wind spokeswoman Nhung Nguyen said Tuesday in an email.

Horizon withdrew its appeal to the tribunal on Jan. 25. The appeal had been launched last fall, after the Ministry of Environment said the proposed 16-turbine wind farm south of Thunder Bay couldn’t go ahead over lingering concerns over potential impacts on moose habitat.

In its lawsuit against the ministry, Horizon claims the province committed “negligent misrepresentations and misfeasance of public duty.”

None of the allegations in the suit’s 33-page statement of claim have been proven in court.

The lawsuit alleges that the ministry was “unlawfully influenced by the Ontario cabinet and the premier’s office” when it delayed the issuing of the project’s approval. …

Read the full story here.

New witness statements on endangered species delays Amherst Island appeal

The 133-year-old St. Paul's Presbyterian Church on Amherst Island is the setting for this week's hearings by the Environmental Review Tribunal hearings for an appeal to the approval of a wind energy project on the island. (Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard/)
The 133-year-old St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church on Amherst Island is the setting for this week’s hearings by the Environmental Review Tribunal in the appeal of a wind energy project on the island. (Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard/)

“I don’t want to short-change any witnesses,” says Tribunal chair Robert Wright in extending the hearing

The Whig-Standard, February 2, 2016

By Elliot Ferguson

STELLA — A late influx of witness statements from Amherst Island residents had lawyers appearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal manoeuvring to find a way to incorporate them into this week’s hearings.

On the weekend, 14 more factual witness statements were submitted by lawyers representing the Association to Protect Amherst Island. They joined 30 other statements already filed.

Many of the statements include descriptions of sightings of the endangered Blanding’s turtle.

Additional expert witness statements and disclosure from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change were also submitted.

“We haven’t even had the chance to read these,” association lawyer Eric Gillespie said.

The tribunal had scheduled three days of hearings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to deal with the resident witnesses, with the first residents to testify Tuesday morning.

The delay caused by the added witness statements, however, meant no residents took the stand Tuesday. Instead, Gillespie and Arlen Sternberg, a lawyer for Windlectric Inc., agreed that the tribunal would start an hour earlier on Wednesday and Friday to make up the lost time.

What was not agreed upon was the exact procedure for questioning and cross-examining so many witnesses in the shorter time frame.

Tribunal member Robert Wright encouraged both sides to figure out a way to both speed up the process and allow the witnesses to testify.

Please read the full story by Elliot Ferguson here.

Endangered turtle sighting testimony to be allowed in Amherst Island appeal

Spotted! (and by a lot of people) Endangered Blandings turtle
Spotted! (and by a lot of people) Endangered Blandings turtle

In spite of a move by the proponents’ lawyer to block testimony by expert witnesses called by the appellant, the Association to Protect Amherst Island, and further to disallow testimony of 30 residents of Amherst Island who have logged sightings of the endangered Blandings turtle, the Tribunal ruled today that the witness testimony would be heard.

The hearings in this matter have already begun, with a site tour on Monday and proceedings yesterday; the appeal will now likely take longer than the four days originally allowed.

The tribunal ruling is an important step in that allows actual residents of the affected community to be heard during the appeal.

For more information on the wind power project and Amherst Island, check the APAI website here: http://protectamherst.yolasite.com/

Amherst Island appeal resumes

Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds
Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds

Community alleges wind power project will harm environment and wildlife, and impact residents’ health

Kingston Whig-Standard, January 25, 2016

by Elliot Ferguson

STELLA — After more than a month-long hiatus, the Environmental Review Tribunal’s hearing into the Amherst Island wind energy project resumed Monday.

The tribunal began three days of hearings in Stella this week and included a tour of 16 points around the island.

Read the story here

Ostrander Point wind farm developer stuns appeal hearing Friday

On last hearing day, developer alleges bias and asks Tribunal panel to step down. Then the MOECC demands new criteria be used for the decision

January 16, 2016

The multi-year saga of the appeal of a wind power project approval at Ostrander Point on the South Shore of Prince Edward County continued yesterday in Toronto, at what was supposed to be a hearing of final oral submissions.

The day began slowly with the usual formalities.

Appellant lawyer Eric Gillespie said at the outset of the day that the purpose of the hearing was to review the proposed remedy to avoid killing endangered turtles. The developer needed to prove that the remedies will work, Gillespie said, and they have not.

Lawyer Chris Paliare said that the wind power project at Ostrander Point will be a costly experiment, with wildlife suffering as a result.

Then, counsel for the power developer Doug Hamilton stunned the audience and panel with his assertion that the panel was biased and should recuse itself. While both lawyers for the appellant and Intervenor objected, Chris Paliare said that this was the result of a “sinister plot” by the developer who saw that “things aren’t going their way.” It was preposterous to bring up such an unfounded and serious motion at this stage of the proceedings, Mr Paliare asserted.

Stunning tactics by lawyers for the developer, MOECC
Stunning tactics by lawyers for the developer, MOECC

Even more amazing was the introduction of the concept of “public interest” into the decision process, by Ministry of Environment and Climate Change lawyer Sylvia Davis. “It’s OK to kill turtles,” Ms Davis told the panel, if it’s for wind power because the project will reduce greenhouse gases and that is in the public interest.

“Are you saying that ‘public interest’ trumps everything?” asked panel chair Robert Wright.

“I’m not saying that,” Ms Davis answered, then said she didn’t have any further information.

Eric Gillespie said that in light of the issues now raised by the MOECC, he would be asking for an adjournment of the Amherst Island, White Pines, and Settlers Landing appeals until the issues were resolved.

Lawyers were directed by the panel to file final submissions by Wednesday January 20th.

Here is a report from the appellant, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.

 

The drama continues

by Cheryl Anderson, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists

On Friday Jan 15 Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) panel, convened yet another day of hearings into the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ (PECFN) appeal of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) Renewable Energy Approval (REA) of the Gilead Power Industrial Wind turbine project at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block.

This hearing was held to hear final oral submissions from Eric Gillespie, representing PECFN, Chris Paliare representing the South Shore Conservancy or SSC (intervenors supporting PECFN), Douglas Hamilton, representing Gilead Power and Sylvia Davis, representing MOECC.

This so-called re-hearing was brought about by the Court of Appeal decision last year which confirmed the original ERT decision, but sent the matter back to the ERT for consideration of Gilead’s proposed remedy to serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle — that is, to install gates on the turbine access roads. Arguments about this issue were heard throughout the late summer and fall and were remarkable for the admission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Blanding’s Turtle expert, Joe Crowley, admission that he had recommended against the project when it was first proposed due to the danger it would cause to the population of Blanding’s Turtles at the site.

The final submissions of the Gilead Power legal team included two issues that began the hearing. One was the assertion that the time for making any decision about the remedy to the project had expired. The other was that the panel, specifically Mr. Wright was biased and that as a result the panel should recuse itself. This assertion was based on the fact that after giving the decision on Ostrander, Mr Wright was on the panel for another appeal where the ruling quoted from the Ostrander decision. On that panel with him was the ERT vice chair Jerry DeMarco, spouse of Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s director of Conservation and Education.

In contrast to the usual, Ms. Davis did not agree with Mr. Hamilton in these two matters. Eric Gillespie and Chris Paliare spoke, also disagreeing with Mr. Hamilton. The panel reserved their decision (they will let us know later what they have decided).

We then came to the main arguments for the day which were oral presentations which essentially set out again all the reasons that PECFN (Eric Gillespie) and SSC (Chris Paliare) had for denying the remedy. This evidence relied on and reiterated the information given by Dr. Fred Beaudry and Ms. Kari Gunson at the hearings in the fall. Arguments were presented against the position of the approval holder (Gilead) and the MOECC that gates on the roads would save the turtles from serious and irreversible harm.

After lunch Mr. Hamilton and Ms. Davis had their turns to respond to the arguments presented by PECFN and SSC. This was, as expected, a reiteration of the written material which was sent before Christmas. Both commented that by installing gates serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle will be reduced to merely ‘universal’ harm and therefore the project should be approved.

However, in her written submission Ms. Davis had introduced a new issue which she now emphasized. That is, the MOECC is asserting that it was acting in the public interest by approving the Gilead power project because it involves renewable energy. There ensued a “discussion” between Mr. Wright and Ms. Davis regarding the MOECC’s Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). Mr. Wright has required Ms. Davis (and all other legal representatives) to submit to the Tribunal by Wednesday January 20 the arguments she is using to support her contention that approving the Ostrander Point project satisfies (or doesn’t) the Statement of Environmental Values of the MOECC.

Eventually the Tribunal will issue a decision on the issue of timing and bias. The final decision on the remedy issue will follow.

For more information and for a link to help out with fundraising in this important legal action, please go to: http://savethesouthshore.org/overview-of-issues/#sthash.b2k6ItFm.dpbs