endangered species, environment, Ford government, North Stormont, wind energy, wind farm, wind power, wind turbines
It has been almost a month now since (virtual) hearings concluded in the matter of the cancellation of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the contentious “Nation Rise” wind power project, south of Ottawa.
The 100-megawatt power project was developed by EDPR, a power developer and utility based in Portugal, Spain and Texas. It was granted approval in the last days of the Wynne government in Ontario (arguably during the period when governments do not take major decisions) and was given a Notice To Proceed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in early days of the new government, despite campaign promises to end large wind power contracts.
Current Ontario environment minister Jeff Yurek issued a decision last December saying that he had reviewed the situation and decided that it would be in the “public interest” to revoke the REA, due to significant risks to wildlife and the environment, even though the power project was already under construction.
The power developer argued against the cancellation, and took legal action asserting that the minister did not have the authority to act.
The outcome of this case, which is now before a panel of three judges for deliberation, affects all Ontario. Nothing less than the minister’s authority to act in the public interest is at stake. Although the minister’s authority is clearly described in the Environmental Protection Act, the power developer and the wind power lobbyist the Canadian Wind Energy Association, claimed the decision was political and that the current government hates “green energy.”
The project was to have 29 turbines encompassing the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick. Citizens’ group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont appealed the approval originally on the basis of the risk to human heath from noise and vibration, danger to the environment due to turbine vibrations in a highly vulnerable aquifer, and dangers to wildlife such as migratory birds and bats. The appeal was dismissed but the group then filed a direct appeal to the minister, as allowed under law, based on “public interest”—it was this appeal to which the minister responded.
Legal costs for this action to protect the community and wildlife have been substantial. The community group has had to suspend fundraising efforts due to COVID-19.
Anyone wishing to donate can go to the website here or send a cheque to CCNS c/o 14950 County Rd 9 BERWICK ON K0C 1G0
For more information on the harm caused to bat species by Canada’s wind turbines, read this 2016 paper prepared by Natural Resources scientists here: https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jwmg.21128
Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.
Arthur Yip said:
Court, environmental review, and actual bat biologist disagrees. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-ontarios-environment-minister-is-playing-batty-politics-with-wind/
Interesting you should bring her into this. Ms Baerwald has a long history of working to prevent bat deaths from wind turbines. While she may have concerns about bats and have done research on this, the question remains: if you have a power project that will create some risk and you don’t need the power, why go ahead with it? That is what the minister said. He also said, the requirement to track bat deaths for the first several years of the project could mean more than acceptable bat deaths, a situation you cannot then reverse. So again, the minister said he wanted to “exercise precaution”. People who dislike the Ford government for whatever reason are making this a black-and-white issue when it is not. If you care about wildlife and the environment, you might see that this decision harms, not helps, environmental protection.
The situation with Nation Rise is very complex and there were multiple environmental and health risks presented at the original appeal. The problem with the appeal process and the ERT is that instead of the power developer having the burden of proof to show there will be no harm, in the wind industry influenced process, it is the community that has to do that. It is difficult and expensive to get expert witnesses. One point you might not be aware of is the fact that Ontario recognized that its noise prediction protocol was inadequate and changed it in 2017; however, Nation Rise–which didn’t even specify their power generation equipment until 2019–was allowed to be “grandfathered” in and use the old, flawed protocol. This means, according to acoustics specialists, some of the turbines could be out of compliance as soon as they start operation. As well, Ontario now has records of thousands of noise complaints across the province and the record of enforcement of regulations (indeed, the record of compliance with Renewable Energy Approval conditions) is poor. So, while you may scan and quote research, imagine for a moment that your home is inside this vast project area. Every single resident of the hamlet of Berwick will be exposed to noise emissions from turbines. That is just ONE of the concerns the community brought forward.
If there were legitimate noise concerns or health risks beyond the buffer zone, isn’t it weird that the minister decided to blame bats? It is clear, and the minister and the court agrees, that the developer already provided evidence of negligible environmental and health risk via the extensive process, study, and review.
Regarding “we don’t need the power,” this is not true – we need all the clean power we can get, so we can displace natural gas and biomass burning AND meet future electricity demands from electric cars, building and industry heat.
Dreaming in Green: wind can’t replace anything. In Ontario, coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas. More intermittent, out of phase with demand wind power = more natural gas. Simple. As for Nation Rise and the minister’s revocation of approval (which was definitely his prerogative) the rules regarding health as set up by the McGuinty government are not protective of health. You must prove there “WILL be” serious harm to human health. This goes against the Precautionary Principle in public health where if there is a chance you might harm someone by doing something, you don’t do it.
Ontario has thousands of reports of excessive noise many with adverse health effects.
We’re guessing you don’t live anywhere any industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines (the ExPlace pinwheel in Toronto doesn’t count) but is it possible you could do some reading about the health problems, the wildlife deaths, the disturbed water wells, with a view to helping people?
Please read a bat biologist’s scientifically justified opinion about this case. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-ontarios-environment-minister-is-playing-batty-politics-with-wind/