Opponents of a proposed wind farm in The Nation are digging in for a long fight, months after the “Eastern Fields” wind farm project was awarded a contract by the province.
Julie Leroux, a spokesperson for the group, said a small number of people are pouring over the province’s requirements for wind farms. They hope to be able to prove that the project would case “severe and irreversible harm to the environment” in The Nation. “It’s very restricted, what we can oppose and what we can appeal,” she says. Leroux said she feels citizens shouldn’t be in this position. “The project’s promoters should be demonstrating that there will be no harm done,” she said. “There’s nothing in this whole process that is made favorable to the regular citizen.”
The project is still subject to approval from the province, and the developer has to complete environmental studies.
Like groups opposing an asphalt plant in Alfred-Plantagenet or a cement plant in Champlain Township, Save The Nation is getting ready for what could be a years-long battle. “We have to keep people interested,” said Leroux. They will need money for experts and, probably, legal representation, she said. A planned car rally fundraiser was recently cancelled, but Leroux said the group recently incorporated, which will make it easier to accept online donations.
The province, at the end of September, suspended its second round of large renewable procurement, but the move doesn’t affect Eastern Fields. Still, Leroux said she and other members of Save The Nation were “so happy” about the news. The group opposes all proposed wind projects in the area, and its members were concerned about another, larger project from EDF Canada, which didn’t get a contract in the last round of procurement but could re-apply.
The Eastern Fields project is being developer by Res Canada. It will be operational by 2019 if the company follows a schedule posted on its website. The company will hold a public consultation sometime in the fall, and is also inviting people to visit a wind farm. The project’s summer newsletter said Res Canada is working on wildlife and environmental studies, as well as on the engineering and design of the wind farm.
Project successfully opposed in Prince Edward County
Renewable energy projects aren’t successfully opposed very often. A decision from the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in June said a project in Prince Edward County was the subject of the first-ever successful appeal of a renewable energy project based on potential environmental harm.
The case began in 2012, when a Ostrander Point Wind Energy got provincial approval from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for a 22.5 megawatt wind farm. That decision was appealed by a citizens group, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County. The ERT, in its first decision in 2013, sided with the activists. The area where the project would be built is a habitat for Blanding Turtles, an endangered species, and the Tribunal found building the roads necessary for the project would put the species in danger from vehicles, poachers, and predators. The company, Ostrander, appealed the decision, and eventually the case was sent back to the ERT, which was asked to consider the company’s idea to put gates on the roads. In the end, it wasn’t enough for the Tribunal’s judges, and the project was cancelled about four years after it was initially approved.