Victory for turtles, environment and community in Prince Edward County

“…in the public interest … to remove from the REA turbines … in Blandings turtle habitat”

Blandings turtle: to allow “remedy” would be to allow extirpation of the endangered species

The Environmental Review Tribunal released its long awaited decision on the remedies proposed by wind power developer WPD for its White Pines project in Prince Edward County Ontario to protect the endangered Blandings turtle and Little Brown Bat.

Relevant sections of the decision:

[163] In light of all of the circumstances, based on the evidence provided and taking

into account the purposes of the EPA in support of environmental protection and

renewable energy, the Tribunal finds that it is in the public interest to alter the Director’s

decision by amending the REA in part. The Tribunal finds that it is in the public interest

to add the Approval Holder’s proposed Condition L2 to the REA, but to alter that

condition by removing Tables 3-1 to 3-3, in the NRSI Plan. The Tribunal further finds

that it is in the public interest to remove from the REA the turbines proposed to be

accessed by the proposed upgraded secondary and tertiary municipal road segments

and by the intersections in Blanding’s turtle habitat, specifically Turbines 12, 13, 14, 15,

16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29.

 

and

Condition J7.1. The Company shall implement the Mitigation Plan

for Operation of the White Pines Energy Project, dated July 21,

2016 prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd., including:

1. Implement the monitoring and mitigation measures as

outlined in Table 2 of the Mitigation Plan;

2. Adjust cut-in speed to 5.5 m/s between sunset and sunrise

from May 1 to September 30 at all turbines for the operating

life of the Project; and

3. In the event of a mortality of a bat species that is a species

at risk, successively increase the operational mitigation as

detailed in Table 2 of the Mitigation Plan.

The question that remains is, with 60 percent of the project effectively removed, how can WPD meet its obligation to provide 75 percent of the power in its contract?

The entire project may have to be reformulated…it remains to be seen whether the company will opt to do that by using 4.1 MW turbines perhaps, or by finding other locations, but the company may have run out of time to do that.

The decision is here:ERT15068-White PInes

Here is a recording of lawyer Eric Gillespie’s closing remarks at the remedy hearing held in Wellington, last January. “The only remedy is to revoke [the approval]. … the result of mitigation will be to extirpate a species.”

EricGillespieClosingRemarksWhite PInes

OMB criticisms apply to Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal

Judge says OMB offers limited justice—is the same true for the ERT?

ERT hearing in Ameliasburgh: citizens paying to protect the environment from well-funded developers and the Ministry of the Environment.

Recently, lawyer and retired Ontario judge Peter Howden published a book on the Ontario Municipal Board, titled, The Ontario Municipal Board: From Impact to Subsistence 1971-2016.

Howden, a judge for 20 years, also served for 10 years with the OMB.

According to a review of the book by Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely, Howden’s opinion of the OMB is that killing it off would be better than leaving it to function as it is.

In our view many of Howden’s comments about the OMB (which was a key factor in approval of Ontario’s early wind power projects against community wishes) can also be applied to the Environmental Review Tribunal or ERT. Both are administered under ELTO or the Environmental and Lands Tribunal Ontario branch of government.

Howden says:

The people who staff the OMB are “unknown entities, people largely without any public profile who seem to do whatever they want without criteria, limiting elements, or ability to define why one group won and the others lost.” Further, Howden says, OMB members’ decisions may be one-page rulings that are issued after days of detailed testimony, or they are rambling documents in which rationale is buried.

“The price to be paid,” Howden writes, “…is the continued progressively worsening public cynicism and the record over the past 10 years of insufficient deliberation and writing time, inconsistency in policy and outcomes, reliance on part-time members …”

Howden also says the set-up of these tribunals is a problem and interferes with their mandate: the adversarial nature of the hearings, not unlike court battles, is unfair for residents fighting well-funded developers.

“Most homeowners these days are simply trying to maintain their homes and families. They do not have the thousands of dollars it takes to round up a team of professionals….This kind of inequality erodes any sense of justice.”

Lack of justice is emblematic of the hearings before the Environmental Review Tribunal where Ontario citizens spend hundreds of thousands of after-tax dollars to protect their communities and the environment, ironically from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, which has a special, supportive relationship with the wealthy wind power developers it appears alongside in the hearings.

Countless appeals were mounted in Ontario by well-meaning dedicated citizens who took their fight for their community and environment to the Tribunal, without benefit of legal counsel at all, while wind power developers were represented by lawyers from Canada’s top law firms.

Millions spent by citizens

A recent informal poll of Wind Concerns Ontario member community groups reveals that communities have spent over $3 million in legal costs to mount appeals before the ERT, and that number is almost certainly understated.

Moreover, citizen evidence presented at the hearings, paid for by citizen dollars, is often critical to wind power project operations—even in appeals that have been unsuccessful, the evidence presented has resulted in changes to the proposed power projects. This evidence is usually indications of risks to the environment, facts that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change would have been aware of, if they did any oversight or checking on Renewable Energy Approvals … which they do not.

For example, the evidence presented on the danger to species such as the Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat –paid for by citizens who raised money through spaghetti suppers and garage sales—won the day for the environment in several appeals. The appeal of the Ostrander Point project, which took years of work by Prince Edward County naturalist and community groups, not only resulted in overturning the approval for the project in a fragile environment, but also caused the Tribunal to refocus its aims, and conclude that, contrary to claims by the MOECC and developer lawyers, wind power was not necessarily a “greater good” that outweighs everything—balance must be achieved in protecting the environment.

In the fight at Clearview, citizen evidence showed not only was there danger to wildlife from the proposed wind power project, but there was a clear danger to human life from a project planned close to not one, but two airports.

Judge Howden concludes that the OMB should be a body worthy of respect.

We say, the ERT should be that, too.

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

The bluster about Ontario’s ‘community’ wind farm

February 6, 2017

Last week, the wind power communications machinery was touting the virtues of the Gunn’s Hill wind power project which they claim is Ontario’s first real “community” wind power project, half-owned by the local community.

The project’s success was owed to its partners, the Oxford Community Energy Cooperative, a (non-local) First Nation, and Bullfrog Power as well as the Germany-based power developer, Prowind.

The story was repeated on CBC’s Ontario Morning.

Community-based? Not so fast.

Retired engineer William Palmer wrote to correct the CBC on their assumptions, with this letter.

I listened with interest this morning as Wei Chen spoke with Miranda Fuller, Communications Director of the Gunn’s Hill Wind Project about this “community project” of the Oxford Community Energy Cooperative.

We learned:
– it is a project with 49% community ownership
– 33% of the members of the cooperative live in Oxford County

We heard also learned of the other owners, ProWind Canada, and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation.

Let’s look a little deeper at this community involvement.

The Cooperative Web Site says, “The present membership consists of 160 individuals and organizations that live in the project vicinity, Oxford County and all of Southern Ontario,” to whom $9 million in shares and debentures were sold.  Yet, to be a member of the cooperative the minimum share is $100, so not every member needs to be a major investor. It is interesting to read who some of the other members of the cooperative are – including the project developers. Elsewhere the website says there are 186 members.

So that means there are about 33% of 186 = 62 members of the cooperative that live in Oxford County … which Wikipedia tells us had some 105,719 residents in 2011, so we can see that 0.06% of the county population are supporters. It’s not exactly a wide support base in the county.

You might be interested in knowing that at the Environmental Review Tribunal the Township of Norwich Councillor for the impacted ward, Mr. Wayne Buchanan spoke of the Township of Norwich’s past and ongoing objections to the Project. He presented three letters to the Tribunal, one from the Township to Premier McGuinty asking for a moratorium on wind turbine developments, one to the Approval Holder (developer) asking for a delay in the development until noise and health studies are available, and one to Premier Wynne noting that the Township of Norwich was an unwilling host of industrial wind turbines.

You might also be interested in knowing that the office of the participating Six Nations of the Grand River Development Agency is located over 50 km from the wind turbines. It is a financial investment, but not exactly in their neighbourhood.  (A similar case occurred in the community of Dutton Dunwich, where the participation of First Nations groups included First Nations located near the Manitoba Border or James Bay, but not the local First Nation.) “Points” are received by the Ontario Renewable Energy Approvals process for “community involvement, or for First Nations involvement, even if they are not from the impacted community.

Now, why would folks invest in such a development?  Well, the 10 turbines of Gunn’s Hill will be paid some (10 x $135 a MWh x 1.8 MW x 8760 hours a year x 24% capacity factor) = $5,108,832 a year for the estimated 37,843 MWh they will produce – whether the electricity they produce is needed or not (as wind developers can be paid to curtail operation or not produce when the electricity is not needed).  Interestingly, had the power been produced instead by Bruce Power, the payment would have been less than half as much.  That $5 million a year for a 20 year contract, is pretty good return for a project with a total investment of perhaps $40 million. Few other (government supported) investments will return some 12.5% a year on a guaranteed basis for 20 years. Sadly, the power consumers of Ontario, including those who cannot afford to pay their electricity bills, are the payees of that investment return.

Wei Chen started to ask a question that deserved an answer … about how people will think when their electricity bills arrive. Ontario simply cannot keep paying twice as much for a product that is delivered best at times when it is not needed … and then pay Michigan or New York State to take the excess off our hands (or at the very least give them the electricity for free to power their industries) without adversely impacting power rates in Ontario. It is no wonder that Ontario rates are climbing so rapidly.

I thought that Wei Chen or other Ontario Morning staff might be interested in scanning  what concerns I would have presented to the Environmental Review Tribunal where I was accepted as an expert witness, had they chosen to accept all my testimony. (They did not, and what was presented was only a fraction of what was initially prepared for them). A copy of my presentation as initially offered to the Environmental Review Tribunal is attached, and signed as a Professional Engineer.  I note that many others in the community also made presentations – again with only partial acceptance by the Environmental Review Tribunal.

I have blind copied a few of the local participants and interested bodies who may not have heard your interview this morning and who may wish to contact you to confirm if what you were told was accurate that “once the turbines are in operation the project is accepted” or as Miranda Fuller noted, people see the turbines as “majestic.”

One of the Gunn’s Hill wind turbines. Photo taken from a non-participating, non-consenting and not happy neighbour’s home.

Power developer proposes untried remedies to save endangered species in Prince Edward County

January 28, 2017

ERT panel Hugh Wilkins and Marcia Valiante [Photo CountyLive]
The “remedy” hearing for the White Pines wind power project by wpd Canada was held in Wellington, Ontario before a standing room only crowd in the village community centre.

The purpose of the hearing was to allow the power developer to propose mitigation for the endangered Blandings Turtle and the Little Brown Bat, which the Environmental Review Tribunal found earlier would be seriously and irreversibly harmed by the wind power project. This is the first hearing in Ontario at which “remedy” or mitigation has been proposed for the bat species.

A news story by County Live summarizes the day’s events (though not quite the end-of-day fireworks between counsel and the ERT chair), and can be found here. (Fate of County’s South Shore)

The wind power developer was accused by counsel for appellant the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) of filing too much material as a reply submission, which constitutes “bolstering,”* lawyer Eric Gillespie said. At issue was a new supposed scientific article which was not in original evidence; after an hour of wrangling, the lawyers agreed to remove the article except for one explanatory chart.

The measures proposed by wpd (which is scheduled to propose similar mitigation measures in the case of the Fairview appeal) included special road construction and monitoring for turtles, and heretofore untried methods of altering “cut-in” speeds for turbines, to avoid killing the bats, which are on the edge of extinction in Ontario.

The only real proposal is to cancel the project, Gillespie said: “The only real prevention is zero deaths, that’s what prevention is.”

A key strategy was to institute measures so that animal deaths dropped below the “irreversible” level, the power developer’s lawyers said, and the onus was on the appellants to prove what that is. Not so, said Mr. Gillespie.

Mr. Gillespie was also disturbed that rules of evidence and reply were being ignored; he told the ERT panel that accepting the power developer’s submissions as they were meant the panel was creating new rules, which would affect every other appeal in Ontario, and would certainly be discussed in Ontario Divisional Court.

In the final hour, the lawyers for wpd reviewed for the panel what the wind power developers’ counsel thought their job was, while Mr Gillespie referred to the decision at Ostrander Point and said that environmental protection was a key issue, and the panel’s real role. Gillespie was so insistent on adhering to the rule of law as regards the approval holder’s submissions (“So far from being proper it is not even in the ballpark”) that at one point wpd lawyer Patrick Duffy stood up and exclaimed “Mr. Gillespie, just STOP!”

As the submissions and reply concluded the Chair Marcia Valiante said “We are adjourned” and then wpd counsel interrupted and demanded to know when the decision would be rendered as “we have an important date in April”(if the project is not begun, the contract will end). The Chair said they would do their best to render a decision soon, and she then adjourned the hearing, again.

 

*Bolstering Law and Legal Definition. Bolstering means to build up or support. Bolstering testimony is generally improper. Bolstering testimony is improper when it relates to the witness’s truthfulness on a specific occasion and when the foundational requirements of evidentiary rules are not met.

 

 

Ontario mayor to Wynne government: take action to protect residents from turbine noise now

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has failed to regulate wind turbines for safety, mayor says. A full investigation is necessary

Image result for image UNIFOR wind turbine

It’s been years since the Canadian Auto Workers union, now UNIFOR, allowed a wind turbine to be built at its education and recreation centre in Port Stanley — and it’s been years of complaints from local residents about the noise and vibration from the wind turbine.

What’s been done? Nothing.

More than 300 complaints have been lodged with the Ontario government and UNIFORS, to no avail. Promises to investigate and follow up have not been fulfilled.

The Mayor of the Town of Saugeen Shores says enough is enough; the government must do its duty and take action on this situation, now.

Last week, he wrote a letter to the Office of the Ombudsman, with a formal complaint about the government inaction in this matter, detailing all the broken promises and the failure to meet its mandate to the people of Ontario. Read the letter here.

Absolutely unreasonable

Mayor Mike Smith wrote, it is “absolutely unreasonable for our community to have to continue to wait until spring of next year in hope that an audit of this turbine’s operation will finally be undertaken voluntarily by the proponent. At the time of writing we are advised that as many as 328 complaints have been filed relating to the operation of this turbine. If this audit is not done until June 2017, it will come four years and three months after the earliest potentially non-compliant test result …”

How many complaints must be filed? Smith asks, and how many more questionable test results filed before the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change finally takes action?

The MOECC has failed

The situation is indicative, the Mayor says, of “the larger failure of the MOECC to fulfill its role in regulating and overseeing the operation of industrial wind turbines in the Province of Ontario.”

He concludes by requesting a detailed investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.

 

 

Quebec wind power developer forces researcher to reveal sources

CBC/Radio-Canada has reported that a Quebec-based wind power developer obtained a court order to force a researcher with the University of Quebec at Montreal to reveal the names of participants in her study of the impact of a wind power development on a Quebec community. The decision is far-reaching as it indicates not only the lengths to which wind power companies will go to intimidate residents opposed to the huge power projects in their small rural communities, it also puts a “chill” on participation in research studies, if confidentiality cannot be assured.

Here is an unofficial translation of the news story, from the original French.

 

Law to force researcher to reveal identity of her sources

2016-10-31

A wind firm has obtained a court order to force researcher Marie-Ève Maillé to reveal the names of participants in a study she conducted to determine the deterioration of social climate in communities where turbines were built.

by Ulysse Bergeron

This first-to-happen in judicial history worries the Canadian scientific community which feels that the procedure undertaken by Éoliennes de l’Érable wind company against professor Maillé at UQÀM/Université du Québec à Montréal could potentially harm the confidentiality of university sources, as well as casting a shadow on future participation by citizens in any Canadian research.

The company commands the researcher to reveal the names of the 93 participants who provided information in the context of her doctorate research in 2012, indicating whether they were “for or against” the wind project.

It also requires her to release on-site noise recordings as well as the names and addresses of the people interviewed.

This request is in reaction to a civil action recourse from a citizens’ group which opposes the IWTs since 2014.

These citizens from de l’Érable and Arthabaska municipalities maintain being annoyed by the fifty IWTs in operation.

In November 2015, they had asked Ms. Maillé to testify as an expert witness.

That is when Éoliennes de l’Érablière filed its request stating that “it had every right to obtain all information and pertinent documentation relatively to this reported deterioration of the social climate to be able to defend its position against the class action it was facing.”

Last January judge Marc St-Pierre declared the company was right but the researcher refused to communicate the data.

She maintains that this data specifically fall under “immunity of divulgation” by force of the agreement of confidentiality that binds her to all participants as surmised from documents deposited in court.

If the judge overrules her objection, two options remain: renege on her word of confidentiality and release the information to the companies or risk being pursued for contempt of court.

Major supporters

This court case sparks a particular interest in the scientific community since its impact could have far reaching implications for research as a whole.

In a formal deposition dated August 2nd Rémi Quirion, Québec’s chief science officer and main counselor to the government in related scientific matters, is on record of defending the researcher. She must “respect her ethical duty of confidentiality and protect personal data” trusted in her by participants, adding that research project “would never have gained public funding” without a binding commitment of the sort.

In addition to Quirion’s supportive position comes a similar voice of approval from Ms. Susann V. Zimmerman, president of the Secrétariat sur la conduite responsable de la recherche (???) of Canada which supervises ethics in scientific research country-wide. In a statement also dated August 2nd Ms. Zimmerman upholds a researcher’s duty to ensure confidentiality of data entrusted in his/her care.

Confidence towards research in general can be affected by “even just one case where interest of the participants is ignored” writes Ms. Zimmerman, resulting in a dimming of “people’s willingness to participate in research in Canada.”

She also reminds that people doing scientific research do not have automatic immunity and are held responsible to go beyond the bind of confidentiality in cases, for example, of ill-treatment to minors or if there is a risk of homicide or suicide. 

UQAM University did not support its own researcher

Marie-Ève Maillé made repeated requests, to no avail, to many office at UQAM – ombudsman’s office, ethics committee, judicial services, vice-rector’s office – seeking help to defend herself against the company. “The establishment must bring financial support to a researcher in order to allow him/her to gain access to judicial counsel independent from the establishment to ensure that solely the interests of the researcher and the participants are taken into consideration”, as explained by director Susann W. Zimmerman.

“Any establishment not respecting any one of those guidelines puts its funding at risk” says Ms. Zimmerman.

Last March, UQAM in its last communication with the researcher – of which CBC/Radio-Canada obtained a copy – had declined all further responsibility, writing that “You are the holder to the intellectual property rights of your thesis including specifically your research data. These do not belong to the university.”

Confidentiality and public interest

In B.C. in 1994, the RCMP had tried to obtain data from a criminology master’s degree student which would have allowed identification in a study of a participant who was present in an assisted suicide. The judge sided with the student.

In 2012, two Montreal policemen tried to get information from an interview that Luka Rocco Magnota had done in 2007 with to researchers from the University of Ottawa in the context of a sociological study of people working as escorts. The judge had also ruled in favour of the students doing the research.

To establish whether public interest supersedes participants’ confidentiality in a research, a judge will generally let the decision rest on Wigmore’s test. The test’s four criteria help evaluate whether public interest is better served in respecting or breaking said confidentiality agreement. Two situations have been opportunities for reflection in these matters during the last twenty years. Although similar they did oppose researchers to the police and not to a company.

Following a call by CBC/Radio-Canada UQAM representatives have discussed the issue with Québec’s chief science officer. Jenny Desrochers now concedes that UQAM is reconsidering its position without admitting if it plans to help its researcher or not.

“Our position is that she has acted on her own, in a unilateral and voluntary manner in her decision to be an expert witness” counters Jenny Desroches, spokesperson at UQAM.

The stakes are not only ethical. They are financial.

Yet, from statements by the Secrétariat sur la conduite responsable de la recherche which oversees research in Canada “establishments must help researchers maintain their commitments of confidentiality” with regards to participants.

WCO note: The Canadian Association of University Teachers has issued a statement urging the university in this case to defend the doctoral student. “Maintaining the confidentiality of research participants is an ethical obligation,” said executive director David Robinson.

Watch for the “Catch 22” and other terms in wind power leases, lawyer says

In this week’s edition of Ontario Farmer is an article by retired QC Garth Manning and Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, advising landowners to get legal advice before signing any lease or option to lease for wind power projects and associated equipment.

Although Large Renewable Procurement II is “suspended” the government fully intends to bring it back (after the 2018 election), and the FIT 5.0 process is currently accepting applications for wind power projects with equipment less than 500 kW. (See story today about Brant County being approached for support here.)

Wind power contracts can be very one-sided ... and not in favour of the landowner, says an Ontario lawyer
Wind power contracts can be very one-sided … and not in favour of the landowner, says an Ontario lawyer

Here is the article:

Clients need help with complex wind turbine lease documents

In answer to Ontario citizens’ concerns about rising electricity bills and the fact that Ontario now has a surplus of power, the provincial government suspended its process to accept new bids for wind and solar power in 2017.

While the process is on “hold,” wind power developers are still holding open houses and prospecting for willing landowners to sign Options to Lease land for wind turbines and associated equipment, in hope the contract process will resume after the provincial election in 2018.

Landowners should know that these are very complex documents and they need legal advice before signing. Some option/lease agreements contain a box to be checked that means the landowner has read the agreement and waives legal advice. That may not be the smart move. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, for example, advises members to seek legal advice before signing.

Why? There are many implications to signing an Option to Lease (which converts to a Lease if the company gets a power contract) including rights to use of the property, first right of refusal at time of sale or if the owner wishes to sever property, even the ability to speak out if there are side effects of having turbines on the land.

The fact is, current forms of options/leases are very one-sided in favour of the wind power developer and should be reviewed literally word for word by an independent lawyer. It’s easy to focus on the dollar amount offered by the developer, and ignore other, important aspects of the agreement. For example, some leases contain cancellation options for the power developer, but most do not provide any option for the landowners to terminate the agreement if they change their minds.

Wind power developers always create a separate corporation to own and operate each project. Its assets include, in Ontario, the Renewable Energy Approval, the contract with the government to supply power, the options/leases for the land for turbines and equipment, and any agreements such as for road use with municipalities.

These corporations are usually mortgaged to the hilt. All assets can be sold to another company without consent of the landowners; the buyer could be a dummy company without assets, which is unwilling or unable to perform any obligation of the original company, including, the decommissioning or dismantling of the huge towers.

There are key financial considerations to consider above the lease amount: having a lease on the property may affect the owner’s ability to use the land as collateral for financing; construction liens may also be filed against the project and will appear on the landowner’s title. …

Read the full article here. windfarmcontractscomplexnovember-2016

Wind power approval process must change, says Wind Concerns Ontario

Devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized construction activity while approval under appeal. That appeal was eventually partially successful. [Photo: APPEC]
Wind Concerns Ontario says Ontario’s Renewable Energy Approval process is not protective of the environment. Pictured, devastation in Prince Edward County as power developer proceeded with unauthorized pre-construction activity while its power project approval was under appeal. That appeal was eventually partially successful.  [Photo: APPEC]
November 1, 2016

Comments filed on Renewable Energy Approval process

“The litany of failures is astounding,” says president of community group coalition

Wind Concerns Ontario filed comments with Ontario’s EBR yesterday, with recommendations on revisions to the Technical Guide for the Renewable Energy Approval process for industrial-scale or utility-scale wind power projects.

Basically, WCO said, the guidelines for the power industry are not protective of the environment … and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

In short, the requirements in place for companies to get approval are not adequate, there is not enough proper oversight by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (or even, capacity to do fulfill that role), and there is no check on compliance with Renewable Energy Approvals post-operation.

  • Findings from the ERT decisions and other legal activities have shown that the current process is not adequate to assess the expansion of renewable energy generation while upholding the government’s commitment to protecting the environment.
  • The process contains no provisions to discuss the creation of clean energy jobs and encouraging energy conservation.
  • The proposed process does not reflect decisions from the Environmental Review Tribunals (ERT)

“The fact is, almost every single wind power project that received an approval in Ontario has been appealed on the basis of protecting the environment and human health,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “And four of those appeals have been successful. The Ministry should be embarrassed that ordinary citizens are not only taking on this protective role, but that they find information about these projects and the damage they will cause, that Ministry staff were not aware of.”

Wind Concerns not only recommended more stringent requirements for a Renewable Energy Approval, the coalition of community groups and Ontario families repeated its call for municipal support to be a mandatory requirement for wind power project approvals.

“Municipal governments are the local voice of the people and communities,” says Wilson. “And they know best what kind of development is appropriate and sustainable. They are also aware of conditions locally that logically should prevent a wind power project — but those voices are not listened to under this process.”

Thousands of noise complaints have been made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Wind Concerns Ontario says, which is a clear indication of the failure of the REA process. Moreover, MOECC protocols for measuring wind turbine noise emissions – when they do measure at all as follow-up – are not adequate and do not capture the full range of problematic environmental noise.

“In fact, the litany of failures of this process is astounding,” says Wilson.

The method in which projects are announced to communities is secretive and municipalities are forced to approve with almost no information on the impact of the power projects. Public “meetings” are a sham, consisting mainly of poster presentations and incomplete project information.

Post-operation, the numbers of bat deaths and bird kills far exceed what was expected from the wind turbines, noise complaints are being made more frequently as a result of more powerful turbines, and wind power companies have abused their approvals by removing trees from protected woodlands, for example, or placing turbines on sites not consistent with the approvals.

“Premier Wynne professed to be surprised recently at the removal of over 7,000 mature trees in the Niagara area for the huge power project there,” Wilson says. “Does the government not know what is really going on? The people of Ontario see the environmental damage being done and the effects on people’s health from high-impact wind power development — this process has to change.”

Wind Concerns Ontario

November 1, 2016

Trees being cut down along  1 km of the former old unopened road allowance and pioneer nature trail  known as Wild Turkey Road on the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area designated High Aquifer Vulnerability, a Significant Recharge zone, where two streams that support trout habitat and 12 species at risk as well as species at risk butternut trees adjacent to the Fleetwood Creek natural area are being destroyed and/or endangered to make way for new access roads for the Sumac Ridge wind facility. Photo sent to Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble.]
Trees being cut down along 1 km of the former old unopened road allowance and pioneer nature trail known as Wild Turkey Road on the Oak Ridges Moraine in an area designated High Aquifer Vulnerability, a Significant Recharge zone, where two streams that support trout habitat and 12 species at risk as well as species at risk butternut trees adjacent to the Fleetwood Creek natural area are being destroyed and/or endangered to make way for new access roads for the Sumac Ridge wind facility. Photo sent to Kawartha Lakes Councillor Heather Stauble.]

Ontario government sees citizens as ‘enemies of the state’ says newspaper editor

Premier Wynne: fighting you ... with your own money
Premier Wynne: fighting you … with your own money

Rick Conroy, editor of the independent Wellington Times says the Ontario government has “turned against its people.” He cites the numerous examples of citizen groups forming and paying for legal actions to protect their communities against the government, and more recently, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne labeling Ontarians as “bad actors” when it comes to the environment.

In his editorial, he asks why, why it comes to huge wind power projects, “… What drives elected officials to use the state’s power and resources against those working to protect the natural world it has abandoned?”

We got a glimpse last week when Kathleen Wynne defended her government’s cap and trade emmissions scheme. She told a business audience in Niagara Falls that Ontarians are “very bad actors” in terms of per capita emissions of greenhouse gases. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue—or offhand remark. These words were part of a scripted speech.

Fortunately for the wretched folks in this province, we have a premier who understands good and bad—better than we do. She has unveiled the selfish and narrow view through which we see the world around us. Kathleen Wynne will be our better selves.

In this morality play your provincial government has decided it will not work in your interest— but rather what it believes your interest ought to be. It knows this better than you. Kathleen Wynne, and Dalton McGuinty before her, believe they know what is best, and cling to the hope that history will judge them better than Ontario’s weak and myopic voters do now.

Maybe.

But untethered by accountability to its voters and deaf to its ministries’ advice and counsel, provincial Liberals have made a terrible mess of the energy supply system in Ontario. It will take decades to fix. It has squandered billions of dollars chasing schemes unworthy of a Nigerian postmark. It has pushed manufacturing jobs out of the province. And it has rendered electricity bills that are unaffordable for many of its poorest rural residents. Meanwhile, it has made a select group of developers very, very wealthy.

In turn, they have dutifully filled her parties’ coffers— to arm her for the next election.

How is it that the most righteous tend to be the most susceptible to corruption and misdeeds? There is something distinctly Shakespearean in this tragedy.

 

Read the full article here.

Aviation safety, endangered wildlife win Fairview appeal

In January 2014, John Terry, the lawyer for the well-funded wind power development lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) told the panel of judges in an Ontario court at the appeal of a decision at Ostrander Point, that their decision was very important for the future of wind power development in Ontario because, he said, “This [a successful appeal] was never supposed to happen.”

One might think that he meant the approval process was so rigorous that wind power projects should pose no danger to the environment or to people and that’s why “this,” the successful Ostrander appeal shouldn’t have happened. But no, what he meant was, the rules and procedures attached to wind power development were supposed to be so iron-clad that mere citizens acting on behalf of the environment, wildlife and their own health, could have no hope of success. Lawyers acting for appellants have said, the test set up by Regulation 359-09 to prove serious harm to human health and serious and irreversible harm to wildlife was impossible to meet.

Except, now, that test has been met.

Four times.

The successful appeals at Ostrander Point, White Pines, Settlers Landing and yesterday, Clearview, show that when proper attention is paid to the requirements to preserve the environment and actually balance development against potential harm, the wind power developments can be demonstrated to be in the complete wrong place.

But the wind power development industry, coached and encouraged by their huge lobbyist and the very compliant Ontario government, felt entitled to propose wind power projects wherever they found willing landowners. Such was the case at Clearview where the eight, 500-foot turbines were to be located near not one, but two aerodromes, the Collingwood Regional Airport and a private airstrip. WPD Canada felt so entitled to success and money that it believed it could locate huge turbines even where pilots’ safety would be in danger and where wildlife would almost certainly be killed.

The Environmental Review Tribunal decision was released Friday, October 7: yes, there would be serious harm to human health because of the risk to aviation safety and yes, there would be serious and irreversible harm to the endangered Little Brown Bat.

Paragraphs [149-151] are interesting: the appellants’ expert witness arguments were “informed and reasoned” the panel wrote, finding they had established “the evidentiary base to support their qualitative assessments.”

Although a remedy hearing is possible, the Tribunal expressed doubts as to the effectiveness of any measures proposed.

The Tribunal used very strong language in places in the decision, saying “it would be trite to say …” or “it is obvious …” and they noted the federal Ministry of Transport’s carefully crafted opinion letter on aviation safety at the airport.

The people of Ontario have despaired at times as wind power projects have been put in fragile environments, too close to people’s homes and workplaces, without any real demonstration of environmental benefit. Millions have been spent by ordinary citizens as they took on corporate Big Wind to defend—what? The environment against their own Ministry of the Environment.

One lawyer for the Ministry has often been heard to say “wind trumps everything.” She is wrong, as this latest decision demonstrates.

Actions taken in the name of preserving the environment must really do that, and not rely on ideology-based trite statements for justification. Ontario has still never done a cost-benefit analysis on its wind power program even though clearly, wind power has a high impact on the natural environment, on communities, and on the economy, without actual demonstrated benefits.

Clearview was a victory for all Ontario, and the environment.

Jane Wilson

(Volunteer) President

Wind Concerns Ontario