Tribunal Rules in Favour of Dufferin Wind

The Environmental Review Tribunal has upheld ministerial approvals of the 100-MW Dufferin Wind Power (DWP) wind farm in Melancthon.

The approvals include not only the turbines but also the 230 kv transmission line along the rail corridor. DWP also has Ontario Energy Board “leave to construct” the power line but lacks agreement with Dufferin County and other property owners for necessary easements, and is seeking permission to expropriate.

In upholding environmental approvals, the tribunal essentially rejected claims of adverse effects on human and animal health and of irreparable damage to the environment.

“The Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not established that engaging in the Project as approved will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.

“The Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not established that engaging in the Project as approved will cause serious harm to human health.

“The Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not established, on the facts of this case, that the renewable energy approval process violated the Appellants’ right to security of the person under section 7 of the Charter,” reads the decision.

The case is listed as Bovaird v. Director, Number 13-070 to 13-075. It will be posted on the ERT website although it hadn’t been this week.

The Director is Vic Schroter of the Ministry of Environment. He had issued DWP’s Renewable Energy Approval on June 10, 2013. Roselyn Bovaird, CORE (Conserve Our Rural Environment), VanDerZagg (farms), John Maguire and Kathleen Kurtin appealed on the basis of irreversible harm to the environment and animal health on June 25, as did Dennis Sanford on the basis of serious harm to human health.

Then, on July 14, Mr. Sanford was joined by the other parties in raising the Section 7 challenge.

The ERT issued its 127-page decision on the morning of Monday, Dec. 23 following 26 days of evidence.

The decision cites three main issues, but the hearing actually dealt with five “sub-issues” at great lengths: effects on soil and productive farm land generally, especially Honeywood loam; water resources; the Niagara Escarpment Plan; and bats and other animals.

The decision may be subject to appeal but Dennis Sanford said in a phone interview Tuesday that, because of the holidays, it might be difficult to meet the 15-day deadline for an appeal.

Mr. Sanford, represented by anti-wind lawyer Eric Gillespie, heads Wind Resistance Melancthon. He had not spoken with his committee or lawyer at the time of the interview.

Noting that there has been only one instance of the ERT over-ruling a wind turbine approval, he said adverse health effects are difficult to prove. The one instance of over-ruling involved the habitat of a Blanding’s (Emydoidea bandingil) turtle at the site of a proposed Gilead Power wind farm in Prince Edward County.

In fairness to the tribunal with respect to timing, Chair Heather Gibbs had stated at the outset that it had to meet a deadline.