We have disappointing news from Amherst Island. The appeal of Windlectric’s 26-turbine wind project on Amherst Island has been dismissed.
Here is a brief statement from Wind Concerns Ontario:
Almost a year after the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change approved the project planned by Windlectric/Algonquin Power on Amherst Island, the Environmental Review Tribunal has dismissed an appeal of the power project.
The appeal was based on the impact on the natural environment, heritage features, and human health.
While the Tribunal was complimentary in a number of areas on the evidence presented by the Appellant, the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), it did not find that the evidence of harm put forward was irreversible or met the standard of the legislation. For the Blandings turtle, for example, the Tribunal allowed that turtles did inhabit the Island but that their habitat would not be affected by the power project, and that the number fatalities likely would not result in irreversible harm to the species.
APAI has said it will meet this weekend and discuss next steps; the community has already considered for a Judicial Review of the power project approval.
For more information please go to the APAI website
In its decision the Tribunal notes the deficiencies in the mapping of wetlands and other water features by the Approval Holder. The Tribunal concludes that: “Without additional evidence about every access road, the proximity to water features such as wetlands, and the potential for periodic flooding or temporary presence of water, the Tribunal is unable to make specific findings about the potential level of Blanding turtle activity at every access road.”
This is further evidence if any is needed that Renewable Energy Approvals are not based on a full technical review or on scientific methods as much as they are based on suppositions about harm, or more to the point, the lack thereof. In this case an Approval was issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change even when it was known that information on wetlands and on Blanding’s turtle activity was incomplete and that turtle surveys were done incorrectly. The assumption behind the Windlectric Approval is that even if surveys are flawed and some wetlands are missed this is not a cause for concern.
We have seen the same thing with the Approval of the White Pines wind project. After the conclusion of the ERT hearing an email was discovered where Kathleen Pitt, a Species at Risk Biologist for the Ministry of Natural Resources, is telling WPD that the Ministry is “still unsure of the impact turbines have on Whip-poor-will.” Ms. Pitt chose to withhold this information from the Environmental Review Tribunal at the White Pines appeal where she had been called to testify and did so again later when she testified at Amherst Island.
In the face of such glaring information gaps and without proper technical studies, APPEC board members condemn the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for approving a wind project on Amherst Island.