“Vicious irony” in who has to prove what at wind farm appeals
Wind approval process puts responsibility on citizens, not the developer, to protect the County
The thing that troubles Henri Garand about the Green Energy Act is the fact that regular citizens are held to a higher burden of proof than the companies they’re fighting against.
Garand, a member of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) has been sitting in on the Environmental Review Tribunal that is hearing an appeal to the approval of the White Pines wind turbine project, which would see 27 turbines built over Athol and South Marysbugh.
APPEC is one of the project’s appellants. The organization argues that the turbines would have a negative impact on the cultural heritage of the area, human health, endangered species and the land itself, some of which is rare habitat.
Lawyer Eric Gillespie, representing APPEC, summoned expert witnesses to prove that the experts wpd Canada—the company that owns the White Pines project— used in its approval process with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) were not valid.
Still, the six witnesses were downgraded to presenters, their testimony reduced in importance, a decision made by the Tribunal’s adjudicators, Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins.
Christopher Currie, Cheryl Anderson, Richard Bird, Roxanne MacKenzie, Doug Murphy and Brian Flack presented their cases to the panel about the proposed project’s negative effect on water, birds, vegetation, human health, land use and property value respectively. Some of these arguments called out wpd’s experts on the validity of their information, but as presenters, that couldn’t be taken into account.
This is what Garand bemoans.
“In the topsy-turvy world of the Green Energy Act, the wind developer receives a project approval despite incomplete research, while ERT appellants have to prove their case without the ability and time to conduct the necessary research,” Garand wrote. “These vicious ironies defy common sense.”
The Tribunal did hear from expert witness Joe Crowley, who Gillespie summoned. Crowley was previously a witness for the MOECC in the still ongoing Tribunal appealing the Ostrander wind turbine project proposed by Gilead Power.
Crowley is a scientist employed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), and isthat ministry’s only expert on the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species that inhabits the County’s south shore. At the Ostrander Tribunal, Crowley revealed that he had verbally warned against approving the project at Ostrander Point because of its potential to devastate the turtle population there.
That warning did not appear in any evidence submitted by the ministry, and the revelation caused the Tribunal to come to a halt while the MOECC and MNRF were ordered to search for any mention of Blanding’s turtles in the project’s approval process.
Crowley confirmed last week that at least 17 of the 29 proposed turbines in the White Pines project could also affect Blanding’s turtle habitat.
Gillespie has proposed two expert witnesses who would be able to reply to witnesses wpd will bring forward later in the process. They will be brought forward as expert witnesses, although parts of their statements that seem redundant will not be accepted.
No other expert witnesses have been heard yet; this week began with residents testifying about medical conditions that would be worsened by the turbines. Those witnesses, like the presenters, have less bearing on the panel’s decision.