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Anti-wind groups unite; Legal challenge against 230-MW Smithville project  

Credit:  Pieter van Hiel, staff, NiagaraThisWeek, www.niagarathisweek.com 2 March 2011 ~~

News of a 230-MW wind power project with dozens of turbines planned for West Lincoln has galvanized local anti-windpower groups into action.

The 230-MW project is planned by Niagara Region Wind Corporation, a partnership between Renewable Energy Business Ltd. and the Daniels Property Acquisition Corporation, and has received approval from the province. The news comes on the heels of an earlier plan from IPC Energy to construct five wind turbines in Caistor Centre. The West Lincoln Wind Action Group (WLWAG) and Glanbrook Wind Action Group (GWAG) intend to unite in order to launch a legal challenge to block the construction of wind turbines in the area. Eric Gillespie, a lawyer involved with an ongoing legal challenge to a wind farm in Kent County, has agreed to represent the groups. The executives of WLWAG and GWAG intend to incorporate in advance of this appeal.

Cam Pritchard, spokesman for WLWAG, said the unification would help get their message out.

“The purpose of this is to provide a stronger and more vocal voice to the media,” said Pritchard, adding WLWAG was also working with anti-windpower groups in Haldimand and Wainfleet.

Deb Murphy, founder of GWAG, said the unification also made fiscal sense.

“We’re going to join together with West Lincoln because it would be financially stupid not too,” she said.

As part of the incorporation and unification, the groups intend to start local fundraising efforts, with an initial goal of $10,000. Murphy noted that the proposed wind farm projects would impact Glanbrook residents as well as people in West Lincoln.

“We will work as a combined group of people, (because) all of us will be equally effected,” she said. Murphy stressed that she does not object to the turbines simply because she doesn’t like the look of them, calling the structures “eerily beautiful.” However, she has significant concerns over claimed health and environmental impacts and effects on property values. These claimed effects are disputed by the province and environmental groups.

According to Murphy, WLWAG and GWAG will only launch their challenge if two ongoing appeals against a Chatham-Kent wind farm and one on Wolf Island fail. She said the Chatham-Kent appeal was particularly notable, as it was hearing testimony about the alleged health impact of wind turbines from a number of professionals from around the world. If this appeal fails, the locally launched appeal will have to be made on different grounds.

“If that appeal is lost, no one will ever again be able to appeal on health issues until 10 years of very sick people go by,” she said.

For his part, Pritchard said the approval processes and lack of municipal input subverted the democratic process. Under the Green Energy Act, municipalities have no say in the placement of turbines.

“We’re rural out here. We don’t have a big voice like the people in the city. But, out here, we’re the ones who are going to be impacted by that project… We have been stripped of our democractic rights,” said Pritchard.

He hoped the news of the latest wind farm project would inspire more people to join WLWAG.

“As Canadians, we have a tendency to sit on the fence. I think this has to be brought to light,” he said.

Source:  Pieter van Hiel, staff, NiagaraThisWeek, www.niagarathisweek.com 2 March 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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