White Pines ERT
White Pines wind project, owned by wpd Canada
White Pines was a 29-turbine project proposed by wpd Canada, a subsidiary of wpd GMBH, a German wind energy developer with more than 200 projects (mostly small) in operation worldwide. It was first announced in March, 2011 and held its first public meeting on March 22, 2012.
The project, which is located on private property in South Marysburgh and eastern Athol, spans across a major migration flyway and staging area.
Twenty-seven turbines were approved by MOECC; the Environmental Review Tribunal cancelled a further 18 turbines.
The remaining turbines will be located within 1-2 km of hundreds of inhabitants of the area – to the financial benefit of only 6 home owners. And over 92% of those in the area voted NO to having turbines. Where is the democracy? There is strong evidence that low frequency vibrations and infrasound will cause adverse health effects in many residents, and will result in substantial reductions in property values.
The main critical dates are as follows:
- March 2015: Transmission line approved by Ontario Energy Board (OEB). This 28-km transmission line would weave through the County from south of Milford, through Waring’s Corners, to the Hydro One substation north of Picton.
- March 2015: The wind project application was deemed complete by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)
- July 2015: Project approval by MOECC despite major deficiencies and omissions identified by citizens and County groups, allowing construction of 27 of 29 industrial wind turbines in the original application.
- August 2015: A local citizen’s group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) with citizen John Hirsch initiated an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT).
- November 2015: Appeals by APPEC/Hirsch were heard
- February 2016: The citizens won! The ERT ruled the turbines would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle. The decision is pending remediation hearings.
- March 1, 2016 – wpd, the project developer, told APPEC and the Director that it would start clearing vegetation at the project site March 14.
- March 5, 2016 – APPEC submitted a motion for a Stay stopping all physical activityrelated to the White Pines wind project
- March 21, 2016 – The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) dismissed the Stay motion. No reasons were provided.
- March 30, 2016 – APPEC went to the Ontario Divisional Court to appeal the dismissed Stay order. The Court dismissed the appeal, until reasons were available from the Tribunal.
- April 6, 2016 – Tribunal gave reasons for not allowing the Stay.
- April 6, 2016 – New evidence was presented by APPEC’s lawyer to the Ontario Court of Appeal in opposition to the clearing of vegetation of White Pine’s industrial wind turbine site. This was withdrawn when MOECC lawyer cited a ruling from more than 50 years ago that only a panel of three judges could hear an appeal of this nature.
- Apr 8, 2016 – The ERT accepted new evidence of harm to the natural environment in the form of aerial photos and a statement from a turtle expert. The ERT granted a temporary stay of WPD’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA), “with reasons to follow”.
- Apr 11, 2016 – The decision of Apr 8 was explained and the Tribunal granted APPEC’s motion for an interim stay of the REA until the resolution of APPEC’s motion for a stay. The Tribunal directed that the hearing of the motion for a stay of the REA would be in writing.
- Apr 26, 2016 – The Tribunal issued a decision on APPEC’s motion for a stay: The Tribunal upheld APPEC’s motion in part.
- April 29, 2016 – The ERT requested further submissions from the Parties on the Tribunal’s powers. Specifically the Tribunal asked for clarification on: (1) the test(s) to be used by the Tribunal (2) the considerations that the Tribunal can take into account when applying its powers and (3) the onus of proof.
- May 6, 2016 – APPEC filed responses to the Tribunal’s questions.
- May 18, May 26, June 6, June 13, 2016 – Response deadline extended pending Ostrander decision of June 6, 2016.
- September 2, 2016 – Appellants served the other parties, and filed with the Tribunal, all witness statements and supporting documents.
- September 16, 2016 – Approval Holder and Director to serve the other parties, and file with the Tribunal, reply witness statements and supporting documents.
- September 30, 2016 – Parties to complete cross-examinations of all witnesses.
- October 14, 2016 – Approval Holder and Director to serve the other parties, and file with the Tribunal, written submissions.
- October 28, 2016 – Appellants to serve the other parties, and file with the Tribunal, written submissions.
- November 5, 2016 – Approval Holder and Director to serve the other parties, and file with the Tribunal, any written reply submissions.
- November 2016: Motions addressed.
- January 2017: Remedy hearing (Oral Submissions- Jan 27)
- April 19, 2017: Land clearing by wpd: north of Royal Road and east of Lighthall Road, and along Hilltop Road just west of Brewer’s Road. It is evident how little respect WPD has for the ERT appeal process in deciding to not wait for the Environmental Review Tribunal to issue its final decision on the Project.
- April 26, 2017. The ERT issued a final Decision on the White Pines Wind Project which protects the South Shore. The ERT removed 18 of the Project’s approved 27 turbines (T12-T29), all those within the Important Bird Area. This leaves only 9 turbines in the Project, those north of Royal Road.
- Mid September: wpd again initiated land clearing activities, even though the ERT specified no activity until after October 15. CCSAGE and others are actively pursuing a stop order. MNRF imposed two stop orders that were inappropriately withdrawn within days of their issuance.
- It is still unclear whether transmission/distribution lines will be buried or above ground.
- A Notice to proceed has not yet been issued by the IESO, but IESO has revised the contract to allow the much reduced capacity.