Cut red tape, enforce wind turbine noise rules: WCO to Ford government

Ontario rural residents caught on a ‘hamster wheel’ of emails and phone calls to government, and endless testing for wind turbine noise — but nothing ever gets done

February 18, 2019

One of the cost-cutting initiatives of the now eight-month-old Ontario government is the “Red Tape Reduction” plan, spearheaded by Government and Consumer Services Minister Todd Smith.

Last week, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to Minister Smith (who is also the MPP for Prince Edward County where citizens have been fighting wind power projects for over 10 years) to suggest that reviewing to wind turbine noise compliance protocol and actually enforcing Ontario’s noise regulations could go a long way to cutting “red tape.”

“The Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise is a costly and ineffective process,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in a letter that accompanied a box of printouts of noise complaints and Master Incident Report summaries that are government records collected since 2006. “Rather than requiring the project operators to address complaints to the satisfaction of local residents, the focus of enforcement has shifted to proving compliance with audible noise levels using this protocol. While the original Ministry compliance actions were focused on the actual complaints about the project, the new compliance process has no direct connection to the complaints registered with the Ministry about the turbine operations.”

“That is complex and costly for both the government and the power operators,” Wilson said.

This process is incredibly problematic, Wind Concerns Ontario asserts: staff time is being used to receive and respond to complaints coming in to the Ministry via its complaints tracking process (the Spills Action Centre and District Offices), staff is involved in liaising with wind power operators over the audit process, and now, an enormous backlog of long overdue audit reports is also being dealt with by staff. And meanwhile, complaints about the adverse effects created by wind turbine projects are not being resolved.

“This is the very definition of inefficiency,” Wilson said.

In one example provided to the MInister, a family in the Windsor area has been complaining about wind turbine noise and adverse health effects for more than eight years. According to documents received via Freedom of Information request, in one year the family had more than 50 interactions with government staff, staff with staff, and staff with the power operator. Ministry staff made two site visits with no action taken. Meanwhile, one member of the family visited the family’s doctor multiple times and underwent diagnostic testing including MRIs and acoustic testing, all of which place a burden on Ontario’s healthcare system.

“The fact is, the government and the power operators are relying on this protocol instead of listening to resident’s actual complaints, some of which clearly indicate the presence of other than audible noise. These complaints need to be addressed, the noise emissions need to stop, and the enormous cost to the people of Ontario can be identified,” said Wilson.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner absent on wind power environmental problems

House at Belle River: Wind Concerns Ontario asked the ECO for a systemic review of problems with wind turbine noise. No action was taken.

December 1, 2018

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner or “ECO,” lawyer Dianne Saxe, sent out a Tweet on Friday to say that in spite of the fact her office is being folded into that of the Ombudsman for Ontario, and her own position is disappearing, for the moment, she will continue to monitor for compliance with environmental regulations.

Unless the problems relate to wind power, of course.

On that issue, Ms. Saxe, a former member of the board of directors for Toronto’s Exhibition Place wind turbine, is notably and consistently missing.

In 2016, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a long, detailed letter to the ECO, after receipt of records of more than 4,000 complaints of excessive noise from wind turbines. In the Master Incident Reports we received — detailed reports prepared by Provincial Officers — there were more than a few reports of adverse health effects being experienced by the people filing complaints with the environment ministry. By our count in the records from 2006 to the end of 2016, 35 percent of the master reports contains explicit mention of adverse health effects. This did NOT include the reports made in the small hours of the night when one might logically conclude that callers were experiencing sleep disturbance.

We wrote to the ECO:

We request that the Environmental Commissioner’s office undertake a full broad review of systemic issues related to the MOECC’s management of the implementation of the Green Energy Act. From our perspective, the documentation shows a complete failure to take accountability for its legislated responsibilities.  At the same time, there is clear evidence that the legislation and rules currently used in relations to wind turbines are not sufficient to protect the health of nearby residents. We hope that you will give a priority to this review as the Ministry is continuing to process approvals for new wind turbine projects based on a set of regulations that are clearly inadequate. 

We also attended a meeting at Queen’s Park in 2016, organized by then Opposition environment critic MPP Lisa Thompson, to present these concerns. The ECO response? Priorities for the office are set well in advance, they only deal with a few things a year. You’re not on the list, have a nice day.

A major concern has always been her pro-wind power bias. I the recent report Making Connections, the ECO addresses the problems of wind turbines and has this response (page 153):

Many reasons have been given for opposing wind farms, including a powerfully held belief that wind turbines are harmful to human health, often because of turbine noise. All of the 46 wind projects appealed to the ERT have used serious harm to human health as one of the grounds for appeal.12 After extensive expert evidence, and having considered numerous studies from around the globe, the ERT has consistently dismissed appeals based on alleged harm to human health. The sole exception was the Fairview wind project in Simcoe County, which was proposed to be located too close to the Collingwood airport, thus affecting aviation safety. The noise impacts of wind on people are controlled through noise limits in the REAs, and through mandatory setbacks established by the Environmental Protection Act.

So, despite the multitude of complaints of excessive noise, vibration/sensation and shadow flicker or strobe effect which clearly indicated a problem that was not being resolved, the ECO maintains that wind turbine operations in Ontario are being properly monitored and that the existing protocols are adequate for protection.

We disagree.

 

 

Environment ministry lawyer avoids reality in Tribunal arguments

You expect lawyers to defend their clients. But shouldn’t a government lawyer always act in the public interest?

November 29, 2018

Last Friday in Toronto, the appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for the “Nation Rise” wind power project—an appeal launched and funded by the community—heard closing arguments from the citizens’ group appealing the approval, the multi-billion-dollar Portuguese wind power developer, and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The latter was represented by Ottawa-based lawyer Paul McCulloch. His job is to defend the Wynne government’s hasty approval of the 100-megawatt power project, south of Ottawa.

Question: Should a government lawyer not be also responsible for defending the residents of North Stormont from the adverse effects caused by a wind power project?

What happened though, was that Mr. McCulloch made astonishing comments in response to evidence brought forward on the risk to human health.

Mr. McCulloch alleged that “no” wind power project has ever been tested and found out of compliance in Ontario. This is patently false. To name just one example, the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin has resulted in hundreds of noise reports, it was found out of compliance and is now under a power reduction order and noise abatement plan (though noise complaints have not stopped).

Similarly, there were many noise reports for the Melancthon wind power project between 2006 and 2009, that the environment ministry did inspections and testing and concluded “the sound discharged into the natural environment from the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect.” * The company was ordered to reduce noise levels, and remodel several of the turbines; when that was not entirely successful, the ministry further worked with the operator to employ a noise abatement plan and in 2011, implemented a “noise reduced operating plan” according to a ministry report obtained under Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario.

So, yes, turbines have been found out of compliance and abatement orders issued; the reality is, many others are caught up in a seemingly endless round of audible noise testing through a flawed protocol.

Mr. McCulloch also dismissed government records of complaints from residents presented by Wind Concerns Ontario as evidence of problems and especially adverse effects from wind turbine emissions, saying no conclusions can be drawn from self-reported complaints.  However, “assessment” of noise/adverse effects complaints has not been a requirement of the process, so there would not be such records of medical opinions. And the ministry doesn’t follow up on reports of adverse effects, or even refer them to the Ministry of Health. The MOECC (now MECP) also does not collect information on academic credentials of the people as part of the complaint tracking process. The reality is, trained healthcare and medical professionals are among those who have filed complaints about the impact of wind turbines on their health, and others have had their assessments confirmed by healthcare professionals.

Government lawyer Mr. McCulloch, however, essentially stated that unless people registering complaints with the MECP provide medical proof, their reports are of no consequence. Does this mean that the thousands of provincial records of noise complaints are meaningless? That adverse health effects being reported to government are ignored? That is a terrible message for the people of rural Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s comments may also have undermined a community health investigation being carried out at the request of Huron County citizens, funded by Ontario taxpayers. The investigation was initiated by public health officials in the Huron County Health Unit in response to clusters of health complaints related to wind turbines. It is being carried out under authority of the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act.

But now, is all hope for this project dashed? At the hands of a government lawyer? Mr. McCulloch, a public servant, demeaned the investigation process and criticized the fact that it relied on information solicited from “volunteers.” By “volunteers” he meant Ontario citizens, the same citizens who have been dutifully filing complaints with the environment ministry since 2006, with little or no action.

Contrary to Mr. McCulloch’s remarks on the methodology in the investigation, it is modeled on the Health Canada community study, and received ethics approval from a university. Various challenges in the community (non-disclosure clauses in wind turbine lease agreements, distrust of more “study,” and despair at the lack of government action) have led to a lower participation level than expected by the investigating health professionals.

In recent weeks, the Medical Officer of Health and the staff epidemiologist have been in the media, renewing invitations for citizens to participate.

Who will participate in that important ongoing community health project now? Speaking apparently on behalf of the government, lawyer McCulloch essentially said any results will mean nothing to the MECP.

The lawyer also told the Tribunal that current Ontario setbacks and noise limits reflect the “consensus view” of the impact of wind turbines on health. That statement purposely ignores a report prepared by the Council of Canadian Academies for the federal government that demonstrated the basic measurement tool Ontario uses to assess wind turbine noise is inadequate, as well as the report issued by the Australian Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbine Noise, and recent announcements from the World Health Organization recommending a more stringent noise standard for wind turbines in Europe than is used in Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s statements to the Environment Review Tribunal were misleading.

The environment ministry should clarify his remarks immediately, in order for the Tribunal to be informed with the truth.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

*Master Incident Report 7465-8KCC68, pages 2-3

For information on the Huron County community investigation: https://www.huronhealthunit.ca/reports-and-statistics/investigations/wind-turbine-study/

 

End unnecessary wind power project and save $400 million: WCO to Premier Ford

 

A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

October 31, 2018

At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.

He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:

Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?

Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*

And,

Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?

The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.

Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).

And, it’s expensive.

Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.

Nation Rise may cost Ontario  as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**

But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.

Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.

He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.

It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.

#CancelNationRise

*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.

**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.

From protest to celebration: Ford government cancels wind power in Prince Edward County

An outrage: County residents protest behind-the-scenes final approval of hotly contested wind power project [APPEC photo-Michael LIndon]
July 11, 2018

The protest was kept under wraps until the late morning yesterday in quiet, beautiful Prince Edward County.

A group of residents planned to interrupt a convoy delivering huge wind turbine parts for the “White Pines” wind power project in a peaceful manner, as an expression again of the community’s disapproval of the power project being located in the historic Loyalist area.

The environmental risks of the power project were significant — so much so that the original 29-turbine project had been reduced to 27, then finally to 9, and the remaining approval came with conditions for the Germany-based power developer WPD in order to protect the environment and wildlife. Several wildlife and nature groups have supported the fight, emphasizing the immense danger to migratory birds from the turbines, close to the shore of Lake Ontario and on a major migratory bird pathway.

The company’s commitment to those conditions has been questioned as it worked through the halt period required to protect endangered Blandings turtles; the citizens’ group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County or APPEC filed numerous actions requesting a stay of construction. Earlier this week, WPD was charged with violating the Environmental Protection Act.

And then there is the power grid in Ontario: the electricity that could be produced (wind is notoriously intermittent and produced out of phase with demand) is not required in Ontario, which has a surplus of power and has been paying generators not to produce, as well as selling power on the electricity market for bargain-basement prices.

The community has been fighting the power project for 10 years, mostly in court, with a few peaceful demonstrations such as a march through Picton last fall.

Recently, it was learned that despite the fact Ontario’s soaring electricity bills were a major issue in the election campaign throughout the province, aided by the cost of wind power contracts, and the fact that this wind power project was a contentious issue in the riding, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) actually issued the final approval or Notice To Proceed, during the writ period.

“The previous Liberal government was in ‘caretaker’ mode when the IESO on May 11 green-lighted the litigation mired project,” said community member Liz Driver. “The community knows that the IESO were fully aware that wind projects were an election issue and that the PCs pledged to cancel projects still in development. As local journalist Rick Conroy explained in his June 27 commentary in the local Wellington Times newspaper  the IESO decision trod upon centuries of parliamentary custom.

“The Notice to Proceed was kept under wraps by IESO, the wind company and the Liberals. The IESO only revealed the Notice to Proceed on its website just before the transfer of power to the PCs on June 29 to the astonishment of the community.”

The community members decided to make a point and actually interrupt the turbine delivery only to find out at the end that Ontario’s new government had announced cancelling the project was one of three priorities for its emergency call-back of the Legislature.

The issue was “time-sensitive,” said local MPP Todd Smith who is also Government House Leader, in making the announcement. The power developer was working at breakneck speed to complete the project in hopes it wouldn’t be — couldn’t be — cancelled, contrary to the PC Party promises during the election. Until the Notice To Proceed was issued in secret in May, the power developer had been working at its own risk incurring costs, and without significant permits from the municipality.

The developer has been working evenings and weekends to try to complete the project.

“If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how fast they can put those things up,” said Paula Peel, a member of the executive of both APPEC and Wind Concerns Ontario.

The government will introduce legislation Thursday regarding the project.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

Ontario Environment Minister served with summons on violation of the Environmental Protection Act

“We had no choice” : Wind Concerns Ontario on taking legal action regarding wind turbine noise reports

NEWS RELEASE

Citizens’ group charges Environment Minister with violation of Environmental Protection Act

May 1, 2018, Toronto, 10:00 EDT – The president of Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a volunteer-led coalition of 30 community groups and many Ontario families, has filed a private prosecution against the Honourable Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), for violating Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

Private prosecutions are important tools in empowering private citizens to hold those persons in power to account.

The EPA prohibits anyone from permitting the “discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect.” Adverse effects listed in the EPA include “an adverse effect on the health of any person,” “harm or material discomfort to any person” and “loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.” (Section 14 subsections 1 and 2)

“We don’t take this step lightly,” says Jane Wilson, WCO President and a Registered Nurse, “but with the MOECC not responding to thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, which is affecting sleep and health for Ontario families, we had no choice. These are examples of adverse effects that Minister Ballard should not be permitting to continue.”

WCO recently received MOECC documents under a Freedom of Information request that showed thousands of unresolved reports of noise, many with staff notes about sleep disturbance and health impacts. Between 2006 and 2016, there were more than 4,500 recorded reports, 35% of which contained staff notes about adverse health effects; between 2015-2016, the MOECC response rate to the reports of excessive noise was less than 7%.

“Citizens report going without sleep for days, weeks, even months,” said Wilson. “Sleep disturbance is linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Mr. Ballard, as steward of environmental protection in Ontario, is responsible for allowing this environmental noise pollution to continue.”

On April 30, 2018, Mr. Ballard was served with a summons to appear before the court on May 17, 2018.

CONTACT: Jane Wilson  president@windconcernsontario.ca

www.windconcernsontario.ca

 

Excerpts from Ontario resident wind turbine noise reports:

“You have done nothing to help myself or my family. How many times [do we have to complain] before the MOECC will do something?”

“Another week has passed with no response from you. It has been terrible here off and on the past week …continue to be unable to get a good night’s sleep.”

“When will you reopen our file and help us?”

“We just want to sleep…”

“After a week of east wind and no sleep in our house this has become intolerable … it is up to you to address this”

 

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s reports on the MOECC pollution Incident Reports here.

The 2017 report on noise complaints 2006-2014 NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May1

The 2018 report on noise complaints 2015-2016 Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL

 

Legal foundation for a private prosecution

Ontario Private Prosecution

 

#MOECC

Is the MOECC interpreting Environmental Tribunal rulings?

A recent letter from the Minister contains troubling language

Breaking all the rules and getting away with it, in Prince Edward County and on Amherst Island (Photo: Brian Little)

April 24, 2018

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) recently responded to a citizen of Prince Edward County, who wrote with concerns about German-based power developer WPD’s published construction schedule. The schedule appears to ignore stipulations put in place by the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal to protect the endangered Blandings Turtle, which is resident in the County, and the area where nine industrial-scale wind turbines are under construction.

The letter said:

“The REA restricts construction and maintenance activities within Blanding’s Turtle habitat to between October 15 and April 30 where possible. If construction and maintenance activities between May 1 and October 14 are unavoidable, the company must ensure additional measures are in place to avoid the Blanding’s Turtle and that its actions do not cause an adverse effect to the natural environment, including the Blanding’s Turtle.

“Construction of the nine turbines began on September 18, 2017. On September 21st and, in reference to the REA, the MOECC requested that construction stop in areas of Blanding’s Turtle habitat until October 15th, unless wpd White Pines Wind Inc. was able to prove the work was unavoidable.  Construction continued in areas not identified as Blanding’s Turtle habitat per the REA.

“Construction has proceeded throughout the site as permitted by the REA. The company has proposed a construction schedule that will complete all construction in Blanding’s Turtle habitat between October 15, 2017 and April 30, 2018 with the exception of erecting one turbine which is in Blanding’s Turtle habitat.  The proponent has successfully demonstrated to the MOECC that erecting the one turbine is unavoidable.”

“Requested”? “Unavoidable”?

Not very clear language from the MOECC, whose job it is to protect the environment, not aid and abet power developers.

On Amherst Island, the same situation is playing out. There, the Environmental Review Tribunal dismissed the appeal of the approval of the “Windlectric” power project brought forward by citizens, but stipulated certain conditions to protect the endangered turtles there. (Never mind the birds, apparently they keep up with this via social media and will avoid the turbines, eventually.)

However, those conditions are being ignored, so the Protect Amherst Island community group has written to the Ministry demanding that their own rules be enforced.

Once again, Ontario citizens are fighting to protect the environment from the Ministry of the Environment.

#MOECC

To write the MOECC use the contact form here: https://www.ontario.ca/feedback/contact-us?id=26985&nid=72714

You may also use Twitter @ONenvironment and #MOECC

 

 

MOECC’s Chappell to appear before West Grey Council

Ontario public servant and MOECC manager Rick Chappell (4th from left) at a meeting in December: adverse health effects are “a matter of opinion.” The MOECC mandate is to protect the environment and human health. [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

District Manager for Owen Sound Rick Chappell (and apparent designated point person for issues on complaints and compliance) will appear before Council for the Municipality of West Grey, on Monday, March 5.

The Council meeting begins at 10 a.m. but  we have learned Mr. Chappell’s presentation is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.

The West Grey invitation is the latest in a series of Ontario municipal council invitations to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, asking for an explanation to hundreds — thousands — of unresolved complaints about wind turbine noise.

Mr. Chappell previously appeared before Council in Kincardine. A video record of his appearance, in which he states that the MOECC’s position is that infrasound has no effect on health, is here.(Start at minute 12)

Mr. Chappell has also stated that he understands “annoyance” is a result of exposure to wind turbine noise emissions, but he commented that the annoyance was like hearing barking dogs, and not related to serious adverse health effects. He is not correct: the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency both acknowledge “annoyance” as a medical term denoting stress or distress, which can in turn result in adverse health impacts.

Rick Chappell also appeared recently before the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group. Following his presentation, representatives of the Working Group wrote to Chappell and stated that in their view, the MOECC was misleading the public. See a report on that meeting and read the letter here.

“Your presentation was disappointing. It appeared to be designed to mislead the public into thinking there are no health problems. You presented a rosy picture of a government that is busy working  on our behalf. But our experience shows that it is not.

You admitted at the meeting that you are aware that some people living near wind turbines are getting sick. You agree that IWTs cause annoyance and that leads to health issues. It is time to accept this and move forward— to protect the public so that they are not adversely impacted.”

In recent appearances, Mr. Chappell described the current situation in Ontario in which few wind power projects actually have completed a full I-emission audit which is needed to check compliance with the noise regulations; when there are noise complaints, he said, the response would be to check against an audit, but if there isn’t one, the MOECC simply requests that the power developer/operator complete the audit. (Any resemblance to a hamster wheel for Ontario residents living next to wind turbines is completely by design.)

Citizens from West Grey will be able to attend the meeting next week and observe. The Council meeting is also televised here.

Wind Concerns Ontario received information from the MOECC in 2017 on reports of excessive noise and vibration and learned that of the thousands of complaints received, more than half (54%) received no response at all from Ministry staff; a further 31% were noted as “planned” and 14% were “deferred” but only 1% were noted as a priority. The Ministry does not publicly report on “Spills” or complaints regarding wind turbine environmental noise.

Oneida First Nations says Ontario, U.S. wind power developer failed duty to consult

February 17, 2018

Oneida Chief Randall Phillips with Dutton Dunwich Council: approval process not transparent, not “straight up” [Photo Vicki Gough/PostMedia]

The St. Thomas Times-Journal has reported that the Oneida First Nation in the London area of Ontario is not happy with the approval process for a wind power project that saw them left out of the consultation process entirely, while the Chicago-based power developer went to other First Nations, one as far away as north of Lake Superior, near the Manitoba border.

Oneida Chief Randall Phillips says the wind power approval process in Ontario is “not straight up” and is rife with flaws.

The First Nations that did lend their support to the Dutton Dunwich project claimed that they have few if any opportunities to participate in renewable energy projects, and that they saw the project as a way to enrich their community. Meanwhile, members of the First Nation that would be affected by the project were not even made aware it was being proposed.

The Ontario government, as the Crown, has a legal obligation to consult with Aboriginal peoples when it contemplates decisions that may adversely affect Aboriginal or treaty rights.

In 2014, the Fort William First Nation took legal action to show that both the wind power developer and Ontario had failed in their duty to consult over a proposed wind power project. The project was eventually not approved, for a variety of reasons, not least of which were First Nations concerns about consultation and environmental impact.

The “Strong Breeze” project by U.S. power developer Invenergy has gone through the formal application process and is now waiting for Renewable Energy Approval (REA) by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. #MOECC . A referendum held by the municipality showed that 84 percent of resident opposed the project but the Ontario government proceeded with the application-approval process anyway.

Read the entire article here.

 

Ontario Environment Ministry sued: failure to protect public from industrial wind turbine noise alleged


 

Four community groups say the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change knows its wind turbine noise regulations were inadequate, so they changed them. Why now, are the five newest projects not subject to stricter regulation? Hundreds of people will be exposed to noise emissions from turbines that will likely be non-compliant as soon as they begin operating.

News provided by

Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation


TORONTO, Jan. 25, 2018 /CNW/ – A judicial review application has been filed against the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) in the Divisional Court in Toronto. The application alleges Ontario regulations and directives limit the amount of noise any residence in the province should have to tolerate from a wind project. Modelling is used to predict these impacts.

The MOECC has admitted previous guidelines resulted in underestimates of the noise at nearby homes. However, without any evidence that this was necessary, the MOECC has allowed companies promoting at least five large-scale wind projects to ignore new government guidelines. The result is hundreds of Ontario residents near these planned turbines could be living next to turbines that produce noise out of compliance with government regulations. If these projects, located in various parts of Ontario, were required to comply with the new guidelines, it is estimated up to three-quarters of these turbines would have to be relocated or removed.

“The government knows the modeling done by wind companies is wrong. However, the government now doesn’t require them to follow the proper process. It’s not surprising people from across Ontario are joining together to vigorously oppose this,” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for the court applicant.

“We do not take this step lightly,” commented Bonnie Rowe, spokesperson for Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, applicant in this suit. “But we estimate that these five proposed wind power projects will be out of compliance with noise levels as soon as they go on-line. In the Dutton Dunwich case, the majority of the proposed turbines, will likely produce noise over the MOECC maximum allowable levels. That is just unacceptable, especially to the many citizens living nearby, who will be forced to endure that noise. We appreciate the collaborative efforts in this application, of citizens in the other affected communities in Ontario – North Stormont, La Nation, and Wallaceburg.”

SOURCE Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation

For further information: Eric Gillespie, legal counsel, 416-436-7473 (phone/text); Bonnie Rowe, Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, 519-639-5415 (phone/text); Margaret Benke, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, 613-558-9236 (phone/text); Julie Leroux, Save the Nation, 613-307-1499 (phone/text); Violet Towell, Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns, 519-350-1829 (phone/text)