Concerns about health issues dominate a hearing on the Dufferin Wind Power project. Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill is not encouraged by response from the province.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNECE has released a startling decision that could well have repercussions as a precedent for Ontario. Responding to a complaint filed by a resident of Scotland, the UNECE ruled that the UK was not employing full public participation in environmental issues and further –hear this, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Energy–that the government should ensure that the full range of effects, both positive and negative, should be disclosed for wind power projects.
The report is here.
Exclusive: UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy
Tribunal warns that the Government acted illegally by denying public participation
Plans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy after a United Nations legal tribunal ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects.
The new ruling, agreed by a United Nations committee in Geneva, calls into question the legal validity of any further planning consent for all future wind-farm developments based on current policy, both onshore and offshore.
The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process.
The UNECE committee has also recommended that the UK must in the future submit all plans and programmes similar in nature to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan to public participation, as required by Article 7.
The controversial decision will come as a blow for the Coalition’s wind-power policy, which is already coming under attack from campaigners who want developments stopped because of medical evidence showing that the noise from turbines is having a serious impact on public health as well as damaging the environment.
Legal experts confirm the UNECE decision is a “game-changer” for future wind-turbine developments in the UK. David Hart, QC, an environmental lawyer, said: “This ruling means that consents and permissions for further wind-farm developments in Scotland and the UK are liable to challenge on the grounds that the necessary policy preliminaries have not been complied with, and that, in effect, the public has been denied the chance to consider and contribute to the NREAP.”
The UN’s finding is a landmark victory for Christine Metcalfe, 69, a community councillor from Argyll, who lodged a complaint with the UN on the grounds that the UK and EU had breached citizens’ rights under the UN’s Aarhus Convention.
She claimed the UK’s renewables policies have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about, or to ascertain, the alleged benefits in reducing CO2 and harmful emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy.
Ms Metcalfe made the legal challenge on behalf of the Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council at the Committee Hearing in Geneva last December. She and the AKCC decided to take action after their experience of dealing with the building of the local Carraig Gheal wind farm and problems surrounding the access route, an area of great natural beauty.
The retired councillor said she was “relieved” by the UN decision. “We were criticised by some for making this challenge but this result absolves us of any possible accusations of wrong-doing… The Government needs to do more than just give ordinary people the right to comment on planning applications; they deserve to be given all the facts.”
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “We are aware of this decision and we are considering our response. Wind is an important part of our energy mix providing clean home-grown power to millions of homes. Developers of both offshore and onshore wind farms do consult with communities and provide generous benefits packages.”
The Aarhus Convention: What is it?
The Aarhus Convention, or the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, is named after the Danish city where it was first established by a UN summit.
It sets up a number of rights for individuals and associations in regard to the environment. People can request to know the health risks linked to the state of the environment and applicants should be informed within one month of the request.
It also ensures the public get a say in any environmental project such as a wind farm. Public authorities must provide information about environmental projects, and those affected by such schemes must be told if they are going ahead and why.
Parker Gallant and Scott Luft on what to expect in Ontario’s electricity bills
Here is a link to a CBC story on the recent Association of Ontario Municipalities conference. We should add here what Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott said: “a year from now, in August 2014, wind power is going to be the hot topic in the Ontario municipal elections.”
Turbines in Windsor-Essex region
Amherstburg, as well as several municipalities in Lambton County, have put their foot down when it comes to wind turbines.
Amherstburg is among 64 communities that are on an “unwilling hosts” list. Those municipalities don’t want any more wind turbines going up. Another 33 municipalities have “expressed concern” about turbines. Leamington is on that list.
Currently there are more than 100 hundred wind turbines in the Windsor Essex Region and like Amherstburg – Leamington may soon join the “unwilling” list as well. A recent proposal to ban wind turbines in the Leamington area was brought to council last week.
Along with solar power, wind energy is hailed as the way of the future but this type of power generation has many in the province divided.
Until a recent trip to Ottawa, the Ontario government may not have been listening to the concerns of municipalities, according to Leamington mayor John Patterson.
“We had no authority, no power to say where solar farms or wind turbine products could be located,” said Patterson. “Now we have a say … but if the government determines that it’s viable they will probably approve the farm.”
But after attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference last week, Patterson says the government is willing to listen to concerns from across the province.
Patterson was glad to hear that, because some residents say turbines are a drag on the municipality.
“Property values are driven down because wind turbines are established everywhere and driving down our tax base. There’s an argument on both sides of that point,” he said. “Knowing past discussions on this when there was a proposal to put 750 turbines out in Pigeons Bay, it caught the attention of every tax payer in both communities. I suspect the same kind of feeling may exist on council in regards to turbines on the land.”
A letter writer worries about the tax base and the future of her community as people begin to leave, and others choose not to live theme.
Representatives from Ontario communities declared Not a Willing Host to giant wind power projects met in Ottawa yesterday.
Representatives from the 62 Ontario communities that have declared themselves Not a Willing Host to giant wind power projects meet in Ottawa today.
n this week’s edition of the Hill Times, following last week’s feature, the following letter to the Editor:
Ontario’s wind farms not a success
Last Updated: Monday, 08/19/2013 3:37 pm EDT
Bob Chiarelli is quoted in The Hill Times as saying “wind power produces no greenhouse gases and is part of a program of modernization of Ontario’s power system. It’s a tremendous success story” (“Critics call Ontario’s wind farms ‘a disaster’ in rural areas but Energy Minister Chiarelli says government is working with municipalities,” Renewable Energy Policy Briefing, Aug. 12),
I beg to differ with that statement. Mr. Chiarelli is either uninformed or very disingenous and he is totally wrong. It takes several thousand tons of coal to produce one industrial wind turbine. How is that modernizing the system? Coal produces greenhouse gasses.
Ontario has spent millions of dollars ($60-million in 2009) for the Bruce Power Plant not to produce power. We do not need nor can Ontario afford IWTs. It is all a financial disaster for Ontario.
IWTs were forced on us by the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals. They turned our rural area into an industrial zone.
As a result, we are “enjoying” our senior years surrounded by IWTs. We have tried to sell and move to a smaller property but no one is looking. The whole area is in turmoil as family members, neighbours and friends are about to start a class action law suit against the land owners and wind proponents. Many are suffering health problems related to IWTs and Mr. Chiarelli calls this a “success story?”
Frank and Helen Belbeck
Link to London Free Press story documenting the 61 communities in Ontario that have declared themselves to be “Not a Willing Host” to huge, invasive wind power generation projects.
The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) will consider only whether the Dufferin Wind Power project and its transmission line pose serious risks to human, animal and plant health or would cause irreversible damage to the environment, among similar considerations, the preliminary hearing was told Monday.
The actual hearing is set for Aug. 20 in Grace Tipling Hall, Shelburne. There’ll be a few familiar faces participating along with several lawyers of note who’ll be acting for some parties to the hearing.
Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing Dennis Sanford of Melancthon in opposition to the project. Mr. Gillespie gained turbine recognition in Chatham-Kent proceedings a couple of years ago, and is currently waging a multi-million-dollar battle over turbine leases near Stayner, among other actions.
Joan Lever, also an opponent of turbines since the development of Melancthon Phase 1, is representing herself as a participant. In a somewhat lengthy and impassioned presentation
A Niagara Escarpment Commission manager appeared Monday to lodge an objection to the proximity of the wind farm to the escarpment. In part, the NEC’s opposition is to visual impact.
Amongst the heavy hitters, DWP is represented by Toronto’s Torys LLP, and Conserve Our Rural Environment (CORE) by the Toronto office of Davis LLP.
Davis lawyer Laura Bisset made representations for Dr. Crysdale of Mulmur whose property adjoins that of the most northerly farm within the DWP area at issue. She didn’t outline the doctor’s credentials but said his concerns are for human health.
Read the entire article at the Orangeville Citizen