Will Nation Rise, rise again?

On December 4, 2019, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks revoked a renewable energy approval granted by the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) for the Nation Rise Wind Farm, a proposed 29 unit, 100 megawatt wind turbine project planned for the Crysler, Finch, and Berwick areas of North Stormont.

The potential harm of wind turbines on bats was the main reason for the minister’s decision to revoke the approval.

The project developer, EDP Renewables Canada Ltd., appealed the minister’s decision and on May 13, the Ontario Divisional Court overturned it.

EDP is now eager to restart construction of the Nation Rise project and is arguing it will bring jobs and investment to the area.  Construction had begun in May 2019 before being halted by the minister’s decision.  EDP claims that the project has already created more than 230 local construction jobs and 10 full-time local jobs.

“EDP Renewables stands behind the benefits of the project and its commitments to the local community,” said EDP Renewables North America CEO Miguel Prado.

The court ruling also stated that the Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks has no ability to raise further issues when rulings made by the ERT contain alleged, factual mistakes.

Those issues raised by the minister included potential harm to birds and bats that the wind turbines could pose.

According to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS), the group of residents opposed to the Nation Rise Wind Farm, the ruling is a setback for natural resource protection.

“”This appears to leave the entire Province highly vulnerable. The Minister and Ministry of Environment with all of their resources can’t protect our natural resources and species at risk. The only protection against these kinds of mistakes by the ERT is now in the hands of private citizens,” said CCNS spokesperson Margaret Benke.

CCNS is already planning to appeal the decision, and a statement from the organization explained that the court had stopped a different renewable energy project in 2014.

“Our client will be requesting the Court of Appeal stop construction of this project, as it has previously done, based on the precedent already in place”, said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for CCNS.