No. 13 Fall 2017
WPD White Pines
Since the ERT decision in April to remove 18 turbines from the project, our initial euphoria has turned to dismay. At the end of July, WPD announced they would start construction and, indeed, in September began clearing land around the 9 remaining turbine sites in contravention of the terms of the REA which prohibit work in Blanding’s turtle habitat until October 15.
CCSAGE representations to MNRF and MOECC resulted in brief stoppages of work, but WPD convinced the government officials to allow work to continue using a very narrow interpretation of what is habitat.
Also in September, WPD asked County Council to amend the previously agreed Road Users agreement, to reduce their liability given the smaller scope of the project. CCSAGE made representations to Council against such an amendment and Council unanimously refused WPD’s request.
Now, at the end of November, WPD has accomplished a lot with access roads in place, turbine bases excavated, cement poured, and massive turbine base rings transported into the County. Again, WPD broke the rules by failing to obtain oversize load permits from the County. They have apologized, and the work goes on. WPD has announced that they expect construction on 8 of the turbines to be concluded by April 15, 2018 and have been granted permission to finish the ninth one somewhat later in 2018.
Letter writing campaigns to the Premier and the relevant Cabinet Ministers has produced no useful replies and no results. A pointed effort to persuade the IESO to terminate the project based on WPD’s failure to produce electricity by contract dates, has not produced a result as yet.
APPEC has filed a legal case in Superior Court which seeks to have WPD’s FIT contract declared null and void as well as an immediate injunction of further construction. WPD and the IESO have delayed hearing of this case twice and there is no new date set as of this writing.
The Picton Rally
On a more positive note, following 2 well attended town hall meetings run by Councilor Steve Ferguson, a rally was organized for October 15 and was a great success. After marching down Main Street, about 300 people nearly filled the Regent Theater and listened attentively to presentations by a panel of eight speakers. Todd Smith called the GEA “the biggest scam in Canadian history”. Norm Hardie got major applause when he expressed our collective determination that “This project will not be built”.
CCSAGE Fundraising dinner
On September 15, a very successful dinner and art auction was held at the Waring house. Thanks to the generosity of many art donors and buyers at the auction, Over $11,000 was raised to assist in the legal expenses of our Judicial review of the Green Energy Act. There will be an ongoing need for donations to finance this effort.
Support for our Judicial Review Application.
Eight municipalities, including Prince Edward County, have adopted resolutions supporting the principles of our Judicial Review Application. All are rural either with or threatened by wind turbine factories and together contain a population of almost 78,000. In addition, ten Community Groups stretching from Lake Superior via the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara district to Ottawa have done the same. Very much appreciated and will add conviction to our Application.
Progress of our Judicial Review Application.
On June 15th, 2017, we applied to our Case Management Judge, Justice Marc Labrosse, for a protective costs order and for an order directing the Attorney-General to file a complete record of the decisions of the Director in the wpd White Pines matter.
We still await his decision. Meanwhile, our pro bono counsel, Alan Whiteley, is proceeding with the assembly of affidavits which will form the evidence when our case is heard by the Divisional Court. To date, over 40 individuals from across rural Ontario have provided affidavits with attached exhibits covering all aspects of the allegations in our Application.
Wind factory on neighbouring Amherst Island.
Construction is proceeding, facilitated by the transfer of aggregate from Picton Terminals by barge. On Amherst island, the aggregate is moved by trucks owned by a subsidiary of the owner of Picton Terminals. Much of the aggregate is mined on the Picton Terminals site with the balance trucked in from elsewhere over sub-standard County roads.
One of the barges sank at dockside, causing the nearby intake of Picton’s water supply to be shut down for a period, thus depriving residents and businesses of water for a number of days. We have been unable to obtain any information about damages which should be recoverable by those so affected.
In a last ditch effort, residents of Amherst Island have applied to the Minister of Energy to cancel the wind turbine factory, citing the overwhelming damage to the island and to its avian and endangered species populations and noting the excess of power being produced in Ontario into the foreseeable future, sold to others at considerable cost to Ontario hydro bill and tax payers.
Liberal Candidate nominated for Bay of Quinte Riding.
This new riding was created federally and provincially in 2015 from two other then existing ridings. It includes Prince Edward County and Belleville south of the 401.
The Liberals recently nominated County Mayor Robert Quaiff as its candidate, who will go up against the existing PC sitting member, Todd Smith. The candidate for the NDP is not yet known.
Mayor Quaiff has been consistently against establishing industrial wind turbine factories in the County and critical of the removal of municipal powers by the Green Energy Act.
He has indicated that when the election writ is dropped in May, 2018, he will appoint a deputy Mayor. Should he win the election, he will resign as Mayor; if he loses he will return as Mayor and run for re-election at the next municipal election.
PC Party’s election platform.
As promised, The PC Party has addressed the Green Energy Act and wind projects in it election platform released on Saturday, including:
Repeal the Green Energy Act;
Restore local planning authority over renewable energy projects;
Force wind project operators to track bat and bird deaths.
Enforce every GEA contract to the letter, using any contract breaches as leverage to renegotiate or terminate.
Walk away from committed capacity contracts that have cancellation provisions — e.g contracts that are pre-Notice to Proceed.
The Environmental Commissioner’s Office (ECO) Report of October 2017
Diane Saxe’s report addressed the MNRF “Overall Benefit” Permit process stating the following:
· Instead of individualized permits that require an “overall benefit” to species, the MNRF now allows many harmful activities under a permit-by-rule system that requires proponents only to minimize (not eliminate or compensate for) harm. To make matters worse, the MNRF turns a blind eye to whether proponents comply with these weakened rules and to the impact of the new system on species at risk. Meanwhile, the MNRF keeps the public in the dark about what activities it allows to harm species at risk, making it difficult to hold the ministry to account for this critically important program.
· “The MNRF has never denied an ESA permit to any applicant.”
· “This is particularly troubling because the MNRF is not tracking the cumulative impact of harmful activities on species. …. This potentially puts many species in a “death by a thousand cuts” situation that could cause irreparable harm, especially since the MNRF does not deny ESA authorizations.”
· “…neither the Regional Operations Division nor the Enforcement Branch is conducting routine compliance monitoring of activities regulated under the ESA……The MNRF staff stated that none of this essential compliance and enforcement information is tracked…..MNRF claims it has no legal authority to conduct routine on-the-ground compliance monitoring of registered activities.”
· “MNRF has no plans to evaluate the effectiveness of its permit-by-rule system, which would be necessary to determine whether species are receiving adequate protection under the rules.”
· “The MNRF is failing to not just protect species at risk as intended under the law, but also to lead effective recovery programs. In the best case, the MNRF has created a system that leaves itself with a minimal role to play; in the worse case, it has a created a system designed to fail.”
· “The massive shift from overall benefit to minimizing harm — a much lower standard of protection — now authorizes harm to most species at risk across Ontario,” Saxe concludes. “Meanwhile, the MNRF relies on blind faith and on public complaints instead of an effective compliance and enforcement strategy. It makes no attempt to ensure routine compliance, to prevent cumulative impacts, or to monitor the effect of its permit-by-rule system on species at risk.”
· “…members of the public cannot seek leave (i.e., permission) to appeal the MNRF’s decisions to grant an ESA permit under the EBR. 2…No ESA approval has been successfully overturned by judicial review. As a result, there is no effective oversight, and no legal remedy for the MNRF’s failures to effectively protect species at risk” [Note: Exception is via ERTs].
The Driver/Rouse Heritage Case hits a dead end
Liz Driver and Edwin Rouse’s court case against the WPD White Pines project appears to be at an end as their appeal of the Divisional Court decision failed at the Superior Court. This leaves APPEC’s Superior Court case as the only remaining legal avenue to stop the project.
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