In a December 4 decision, an appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision to issue a Renewable Energy Approval to Nation Rise Wind Farm GP Inc. has led to the project been revoked.
Despite a full appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project by community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, which raised serious issues of concern about human health and the environment, and despite a final appeal and request for a Stay of construction, the 100-megawatt wind power project in the Finch, Berwick, and Crysler areas had been proceeding for the past few months, according to the Ottawa Wind Concerns website.
Now, EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. (EDPR) said in a December 9 press release that it is it is prepared to pursue all legal courses of action in response and fully trusts the Canadian justice system as a means of positioning EDPR to resume the construction activities at Nation Rise Wind Farm, according to a press release, which also states that the decision contradicts scientific and expert findings and appears to exceed the Minister’s legal jurisdiction under the Environmental Protection Act.
The Nation Rise Wind Farm is a 29-unit wind turbine, 100-megawatt wind energy project in the Municipality of North Stormont within the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry. The press release says, “Nation Rise began construction in May 2019 and construction is significantly advanced with numerous wind turbines already fully erected. The project was competitively procured under the IESO Large Renewable Procurement and will produce zero emission electricity.
Nation Rise also represents a very significant investment for the local and provincial economy. It has created over 230 local construction jobs to date and will create around 10 permanent direct local jobs and numerous indirect jobs during operation. Further, the project will inject more than $45 million over 30 years into the local community through municipal taxes, a community benefit fund, charitable contributions and landowner payments.”
Harm to bats, wildlife key point in decision
A communique prepared by Margaret Benke for The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, which objected to the wind project, states, “The Minister (of the Environment, Conservation and Parks) agreed with most of the decisions of the Tribunal but disagreed with the Tribunal’s conclusions with respect to the degree of harm that will be caused to local bat species by the project. He is therefore altering the Tribunal’s decision based on his conclusion that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to bats and he has “revoked the approval” for Nation Rise Wind Farm.”
In his decision
, Minister Yuret pointed to gaps in the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures for bat habitats, saying that “even if these conditions could be improved to limit harm to local bats, harm will still occur. Considering this harm together in the context of the minimal contribution the project is likely to have on the electricity supply in Ontario, in my view it is not appropriate to confirm the decision of the Tribunal, but rather amend it to revoke the approval.”
Benke continued, “While we wait for more details about what we can expect to see with respect to changes/ the stopping of construction of the project, etc., I would like to once again take this opportunity to thank all of the individuals and groups who have supported us over the past 4 years, and 7 months.
A big thank you goes out to our Mayor(s) and Councillors who were placed in the very difficult position of supporting our position as “unwilling hosts” and yet having to “get along” with the project proponent, in order to meet the requirements of their provincial overseer, the (former) provincial government under the Green Energy Act.”
She extended thanks “to friends from other citizen organizations, from St-Bernardin to Dutton-Dunwich and beyond, what a pleasure it has been to work with you.”
Notice of appeal was submitted by the group in May 2018.
The decision also notes that the Ontario government “has taken steps to improve the decision making process as it applies to renewable energy approvals, including amending the Renewable Energy Approvals regulation under the EPA to add eligibility requirements related to electricity demand and return decision making authority under the Planning Act as it relates to renewable energy projects to municipalities.”
Finally, the minister notes that he has asked Ministry staff to review how harm to bats is assessed as part of the renewable energy approval process and related guidelines and whether any changes might be necessary.”
A proposed wind turbine project in the St-Bernardin area was put on hold indefinitely earlier this year. You can read that story here.