Six appeals filed against contentious Clearview wind farm

An insult to the community, says a councillor. Issues include aviation safety, economic impact, planning control

Small airplane on runway

By Gisele Winton Sarvis, PostMedia

Barrie Examiner, March 9, 2016

CLEARVIEW TWP. – Six separate appeals have been filed to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) against its approval of the wpd Canada project to construct eight 500-ft wind turbines east of Stayner.

At the Feb. 29 Clearview council meeting, Deputy Mayor Barry Burton said that in addition to appeals filed by Clearview Township, the Town of Collingwood and the County of Simcoe, appeals have also been filed from Kevin and Gail Elwood, the Wiggins Group and Preserve Clearview Ltd.

Burton didn’t discuss the topic any further but later in the meeting, council was reluctant to even receive the lengthy wpd Fairview Wind Project Renewable Energy Approval (REA) document for information.

“This is in no way accepting the report, it’s just for information,” said Burton, who chaired the meeting.

The municipality is opposed to the project due to concerns over public safety as the closest wind turbine is just more than 3,000 metres from the end of the runway at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

In addition, plans for the Clearview Aviation Park is expected to attract business and potentially hundreds of jobs in the aeronautic industry and therefore expand use of the airport. A study commissioned by the municipality, found that turbine construction would put the economic development project in jeopardy.

Clearview fought and received intervenor status in a court case between wpd Canada and the MOECC in order to voice its opposition to the project.

But on Feb. 11, the day before the case was to be heard, the MOECC granted wpd approval to construct the turbines.

‘This has to be stopped’

Coun. Thom Paterson said during the council meeting, “This is the kind of insult many municipalities feel in this process. We can make the concerns known and be ignored… This has to be stopped. Many municipalities have made that known. Hopefully the government will start to listen.

“Here’s a another example of your government not listening to your municipality,” he said.

Following the meeting, Burton said the municipality is “forced” to go to the appeal route because they didn’t get their day in court.

“Premier Wynne talked about how unwilling communities would get their say and that wind turbines wouldn’t be forced upon them and that’s exactly what’s happening in Clearview. They are being forced upon us,” he said.

“And when we tried to have a proper hearing and spent money in the process, they bailed at the last minute and caved into wpd, so it’s very disappointing,” he said.

“I don’t feel the province has done its due diligence.”

Read the full story here.

Wind power site “poorly chosen” : Environmental Review Tribunal

Power developer admits it was unaware of degree of risk to endangered wildlife

Toronto Star, February 29, 2016

By:

John Hirsch, a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, filed an appeal of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines wind turbine approval. The appeal was upheld.
John Hirsch: appellant with Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County against WPD wind project
Blessed are the small and humble, for they, it seems, shall halt wind turbines.

In the latest instalment of the epic machine vs. nature struggle being played out in Prince Edward County, environmental activists have scored another victory against construction of wind turbines they say will do serious and irreversible harm to already endangered species.  This time, in a ruling released Feb. 26, an Environmental Review Tribunal upheld an appeal against a turbine development it concluded posed serious risk to the Little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle.

Last July 16, the Ontario Environment Ministry issued an approval to White Pines Wind Inc. to install and operate a facility of 27 turbines on the pristine south shore of what locals call the County. As it happens, a man named John Hirsch was scouting property in the County at the time for he and his wife to move to after wrapping up a career in customs consulting.

Hirsch had already become a board member of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, one of the most important bird-banding stations in Canada. He suspected — even before eventually buying property in another part of the County — that the White Pines proposal would profoundly alter the south shore. He was also, owing to his career in customs administration, quite familiar with tribunals.

By July 29, Hirsch had filed an appeal — “it’s not all that complicated” — of the Environment Ministry’s White Pines approval, getting in a day ahead of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward Country.

“It turns out a case gets named after whoever gets in first,” he told the Star on Monday. “That’s why the case is named Hirsch v Ontario.”

“We didn’t think we were going to win”

While Hirsch, 66, might have got top billing, the alliance “came to the rescue,” he said, with funding, legal representation and recruitment of expert witnesses. During November and December, Hirsch, who now works part-time at Home Depot in Belleville, sat through 21 days of hearings, after which he wasn’t terribly confident of the outcome.

“Were we expecting this? No!” he said. “We didn’t think we were going to win. We didn’t get the birds. But we got the bats!”

The tribunal dismissed appeals on the grounds of human health risks. It also rejected appeals on the threat to birds, although it did call the project site “poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.”

The panel upheld the appeal because of the risk of serious and irreversible harm to the Little Brown Bat and Blanding’s Turtle.  …

Read the full story here.

ToughonNature

 

Counties, town join forces to fight wind farm

Negative economic impact, danger to aviation safety from wind ‘farm’ planned near airport cited as reasons for appeal of wind power project

CTV News February 25, 2016

http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=816331

http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/simcoe-county-joins-clearview-and-collingwood-to-appeal-wind-farm-decision-1.2792631

 

 

 

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

Another green energy Wynne-McGuinty blow-up: Financial Post

Gas plant scandals, soaring power rates, declining electricity output, massive subsidies to money-losing wind and solar, non-stop bafflegab from government ministers: when will it stop?

Outgoing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (right) and incoming premier Kathleen Wynne pose for media after a meeting at the Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, January 28, 2013.

Happier times: Premier Wynne and former Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2013. Driving the bus … over a cliff for taxpayers.

The Financial Post, February 13, 2016

Debris from the exploding Ontario Liberal green energy rocket continues to land on the hapless citizens of the province. Gas plant scandals, soaring power rates, declining electricity output, massive subsidies to money-losing wind and solar, non-stop bafflegab from government ministers: when will it stop?

Not now, and maybe never.

Details of the latest meteorite-sized chunk of the Dalton McGuinty/Kathleen Wynne green power blow-up are on display at the blog of energy consultant Tom Adams, who formerly served on the Ontario Independent Electricity Market Operator board of directors and the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Energy board of management

Adams picks up a story that made brief headlines in late 2012 when Windstream Energy, a U.S. company, filed a NAFTA complaint claiming $475 million in damages. The company says it had a contract with the government-controlled Ontario Power Authority at 19 cents a kilowatt/hour to build an offshore wind farm near Wolf Island in Lake Ontario near Kingston.

Read the full story here.

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

Ontario’s electricity sector ‘chaos’: Tom Adams

Ontario government headed to court over NAFTA challenge

Tom Adams Energy, February 12, 2016

Tom Adams
Tom Adams: Ontario engaged in fiscal and legal shenanigans

Ontario Gas Scandal Doppelgänger

On Monday, a NAFTA arbitration panel will start oral hearings in Toronto arising from a dispute between the Delaware-incorporated renewable power developer, Windstream Energy, and the Government of Canada (notice how awkward it is for the public to attend). At stake is Windstream’s claim for damages of $475 million plus interest and costs over an alleged breach of NAFTA obligations by the Ontario government. Windstream had a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) contract granted by the Ontario Power Authority in 2010 to develop a 300 megawatt, 130-turbine offshore wind project west of Wolfe Island, but says it was thwarted by the Ontario government prior to construction.

My main interest in the Windstream litigation is how it illuminates the chaos inside official Ontario’s administration of the province’s electricity future. The case also illustrates how international trade agreements can leave the federal government on the hook when provincial government engage in shenanigans, an important but previously known fact of life in our imperfect federation. (As if our provincial governments need more incitement for irresponsibility.)

Read the full post and associated documents here.

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.