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 people of Prince Edward County have been battling a wind power project planned for–and supported by the Ontario government–for more than six years. An Important Bird Area and staging area for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, and home to endangered species, Ostrander Point was a fragile environment— not suitable, most thought, for a huge, utility-scale, wind power project.
The Environmental Review Tribunal released its decision today, prepared by co-chairs Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs.
Here is a news release from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and their lawyer, Eric Gillespie.
TORONTO, June 6, 2016 /CNW/ – The endangered Blanding’s turtle has come out ahead in its race to protect the species and its habitat in Prince Edward County.
The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal ruled today that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change permit related to proposed industrial wind turbines on the Ostrander Point crown lands should be revoked.
“This is a great outcome for everyone involved and for the environment” said Myrna Wood of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, the appellant. “It’s taken some time, but with this result the effort has clearly been worthwhile” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel.
SOURCE Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation
A key point in the decision was the concepts that there must be balance between preserving the natural environment and wildlife and the goals for “renewable” power generation.
The Ontario government has approved wind power projects in other areas where environmental protection is a concern.
Will the government of Ontario do the right thing and now cancel contracts for utility-scale wind power in these locations?
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.
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.
Court cannot rule when quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal gave no reasons for decision
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.”
To help with fundraising, or for more information on these proceedings and the fight in Prince Edward County, go to www.savethesouthshore.org
Citizens engaged in an appeal of the approval of a huge wind power project that will threaten wildlife and change a heritage landscape
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.
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.
Renewable energy developers – and those who regulate them – need to be more sensitive to the concerns of residents who are going to have massive wind turbines built near them, a group of Canadian academics says.
In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Energy, the eight authors – six of whom are university professors or researchers – analyze why there is so much debate over the placement of wind turbines in Ontario.
Ontario has the greatest number of wind turbines of any province, and their construction has created considerable conflict between developers and those opposed to the installation of large industrial machinery in rural environments. Often these fights end up pitting neighbours against neighbours, and they can become big political battles at the municipal level.
Ontario has altered its rules since it first encouraged wind farms in its Green Energy Act in 2009, said Stewart Fast, a senior research associate at the University of Ottawa and one of the paper’s authors. But even though the new rules encourage more input from local governments and residents near proposed turbines, these changes haven’t been enough to stop the disputes, he said. …
Dutton Dunwich Council passed a resolution at its regular meeting January 13, requesting that the Ontario government not sign any new contracts for wind power, and that it “not proceed with any related projects within our Municipality.”
Invenergy submitted a bid for a power project in the municipality during the 2015 bid process for Large Renewable Procurement (LRP). Eighty-four percent of residents in the area said NO to the wind power project when the municipality conducted a survey last year.
Dutton Dunwich is also officially an unwilling host community to wind power projects.
Concerns noted in the resolution were the danger to wildlife from the industrial-scale wind turbines, the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power, and that the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation also do not support the power project.
“DDOWT [Dutton/Dunwich Opposed to Wind Turbines*] is very pleased that our local Dutton Dunwich Council has passed this resolution,” said Bonnie Rowe, chair of the community group. “Our civic leaders continue to stress to Provincial government bodies that 84 percent of our our citizens are opposed to IWT being built in Dutton Dunwich.”
Council directed that the resolution be forwarded to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, MPPs, and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
The long, long saga of the appeal of the Ostrander Point wind power project, in which members of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the community fight to save the environment from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, is nearing its end.
Here is a report from Cheryl Anderson of PECFN:
Today was the end of a long and exhausting journey for the members of PECFN, the supporters of our fight to Save Ostrander Point, our legal team and probably the opposing lawyers and the tribunal panel as well. The last of the witnesses was heard this morning. Shawn Taylor, [Dillon Consulting] a witness for the approval holder (Gilead) gave testimony about his success in aquatic and terrestrial rehabilitation projects. In some projects, apparently, he was involved in creating artificial nesting sites for Blanding’s Turtles. There did not seem to be any evidence; however, that the turtles actually used these artificial sites. Most of Mr. Taylor’s work seems to have been in restoration of wetland habitat for road construction.
The second witness for the day was to have been Mike Lord, president of Gilead. After the lunch break the Gilead lawyers came back and announced that Mike Lord would not be giving testimony.
Everyone in the room gave a huge sigh of relief – we could not believe it was finally over.
Before January 15, the legal teams will be submitting written briefs and replies summing up the case.
On the 15th final oral submissions will be presented in Toronto and then the ERT panel will deliberate and write their final decision.
Meanwhile, PECFN continues raising funds. On January 16 we present Winter Wonderland Walk. This 3 km walk will proceed along Hilltop Rd and up Brewers Rd to Long Dog winery. Long Dog has graciously agreed to provide mulled wine for the walkers and we will make sure there is also hot spiced cider. We will also provide rides back to your car parked at the side of Hilltop Rd. All you have to do is register for the walk and get a few people to sponsor you. It should be a fun afternoon and we will raise some much needed money for the cause of keeping our South Shore Turbine free.
Wind approval process puts responsibility on citizens, not the developer, to protect the County
The thing that troubles Henri Garand about the Green Energy Act is the fact that regular citizens are held to a higher burden of proof than the companies they’re fighting against.
Garand, a member of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) has been sitting in on the Environmental Review Tribunal that is hearing an appeal to the approval of the White Pines wind turbine project, which would see 27 turbines built over Athol and South Marysbugh.
APPEC is one of the project’s appellants. The organization argues that the turbines would have a negative impact on the cultural heritage of the area, human health, endangered species and the land itself, some of which is rare habitat.
Lawyer Eric Gillespie, representing APPEC, summoned expert witnesses to prove that the experts wpd Canada—the company that owns the White Pines project— used in its approval process with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) were not valid.
Still, the six witnesses were downgraded to presenters, their testimony reduced in importance, a decision made by the Tribunal’s adjudicators, Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins.
Christopher Currie, Cheryl Anderson, Richard Bird, Roxanne MacKenzie, Doug Murphy and Brian Flack presented their cases to the panel about the proposed project’s negative effect on water, birds, vegetation, human health, land use and property value respectively. Some of these arguments called out wpd’s experts on the validity of their information, but as presenters, that couldn’t be taken into account.
This is what Garand bemoans.
“In the topsy-turvy world of the Green Energy Act, the wind developer receives a project approval despite incomplete research, while ERT appellants have to prove their case without the ability and time to conduct the necessary research,” Garand wrote. “These vicious ironies defy common sense.”
The Tribunal did hear from expert witness Joe Crowley, who Gillespie summoned. Crowley was previously a witness for the MOECC in the still ongoing Tribunal appealing the Ostrander wind turbine project proposed by Gilead Power.
Crowley is a scientist employed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), and isthat ministry’s only expert on the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species that inhabits the County’s south shore. At the Ostrander Tribunal, Crowley revealed that he had verbally warned against approving the project at Ostrander Point because of its potential to devastate the turtle population there.
That warning did not appear in any evidence submitted by the ministry, and the revelation caused the Tribunal to come to a halt while the MOECC and MNRF were ordered to search for any mention of Blanding’s turtles in the project’s approval process.
Crowley confirmed last week that at least 17 of the 29 proposed turbines in the White Pines project could also affect Blanding’s turtle habitat.
Gillespie has proposed two expert witnesses who would be able to reply to witnesses wpd will bring forward later in the process. They will be brought forward as expert witnesses, although parts of their statements that seem redundant will not be accepted.
No other expert witnesses have been heard yet; this week began with residents testifying about medical conditions that would be worsened by the turbines. Those witnesses, like the presenters, have less bearing on the panel’s decision.
We received word late last evening that Joe Crowley, at-risk species expert with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is to testify at the appeal of the White Pines wind power project in Prince Edward County today.
The hearing is being held at the Essroc Community Centre in Wellington, Ontario.
Mr. Crowley was an expert witness at the Ostrander Point appeal, currently in its fifth phase, and testified that it was his professional recommendation that the danger to the Blandings turtle and other species at the Ostrander site was so great, a permit should not be granted. Mr Crowley has also commented the Blandings turtles range over the South Shore of Prince Edward County, the site of the other proposed wind power project, White Pines by wpd Canada.
The wind power developer denies this, and the endangered turtle was not even on the company’s permit regarding the Endangered Species Act.
At issue in these proceedings, for both appeals, is the fundamentals behind the Ontario government’s approval process for wind power plants. Documents have been withheld, expert advice ignored, and government staff have been shown to play the role of supporting and encouraging the power developments, not protecting the environment or wildlife.
The Ostrander Point appeal is on hiatus but may resume at the end of November; White Pines continues this week.