WCO news release: ordinary citizens battle gov’t, industry over wind power
Citizens battle government, corporations over wind power projects
Questions about fairness of government appeal process
October 15, 2013
The Ontario government is refusing to hear testimony from experts on noise and safety in an ongoing Environmental Review Tribunal, according to motions presented to the appellant. Last week, the Environment ministry and power developer NextEra filed motions to deny testimony from witnesses at an appeal launched by Esther Wrightman, a citizen of the Middlesex area. The ministry and developer are objecting to testimony from medical doctors, a professional engineer with expertise in noise measurement, an acoustician with knowledge of the effect of environmental noise and infrasound on human health, and real estate appraisers.
Wrightman, received notice of the motions last Thursday evening, and was given four days over the Thanksgiving weekend to respond. Motions to dismiss three more of her witnesses will be heard Tuesday morning, October 15, 10 a.m. at the Middlesex County Office in London.
“They are trying to force her to back down and give up,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “This appeal is being thwarted by our own government and the wind power developer. But they have no idea how hard people are working to fight this.”
As the Ontario government continues to approve giant wind power generation projects despite opposition from municipal councils, community groups, and individual citizens, protests and demonstrations against the invasive power projects are on the increase.
“The day that Kathleen Wynne said she was ‘sorry’ about the gas plant scandal, and the exact same day that Energy Minister Chiarelli said he is going to try to get the location process for power plants ‘right’ in this province, the government announced yet another wind power project—the monstrous, 92-turbine Samsung project near Kincardine,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
“In fact, they announced three more such projects over five days already this month, and while Kathleen Wynne has been Premier, 14 have been given approval,” she added. “The Kincardine-area project is incredible because there are so many people sick from the environmental noise produced by the existing Enbridge power project there was a delegation of citizens at Kincardine Council last December. But this government is just pushing ahead.”
Another one of the three most recent projects is at Goulais Bay in the Algoma region, which has been opposed by heritage groups because of the destruction to landscapes made famous by Group of Seven painters, and which attract thousands of tourists to Ontario every year.
At present, 72 municipalities have passed a resolution at Council expressing their unwillingness to host wind power generation plants, after Premier Wynne said she was not going to force the projects on communities that don’t want them. More councils plan to discuss similar motions in the weeks ahead, with well-attended public sessions.
“What we have is Ontario citizens using their after-tax dollars to fight the government and the Ministry of the Environment to—guess what—save the environment,” Wilson said. The Ostrander Point wind power project, which witnesses said would destroy a rare plant environment and endanger hundreds of thousands of migrating birds was halted due to concerns about one animal species, but the Ministry of the Environment and the wind developer, Toronto-based Gilead Power, is now appealing that decision, and local residents are fund-raising to carry on the fight.
“What’s increasingly clear,” Wilson, a registered nurse, says is that “the appeal process pretends to be a way for the public to have a ‘say’ in where these power projects go, but it isn’t. The process is flawed and weighted in favour of the developers. This government doesn’t care about people’s health and it definitely doesn’t care about the environment. ”
A demonstration is planned Tuesday at the Middlesex County offices in London at 9 a.m. to protest actions to quell witness testimony, and citizens’ groups from southwestern Ontario plan a demonstration in Strathroy on Saturday, October 19, along Highway 402.