SHEFFIELD – Still fighting the First Wind project, appellants in the final legal challenge at Vermont Supreme Court have provided photos they say substantiate their claims construction of the 16-turbine wind farm will result in environmental damage.
Neighbors are fighting the state’s issuance of a construction storm water permit. The appellants, mostly neighbors of the site, continue to fight the project even as overweight permits for the turbines were finalized this week.
In a news release issued by Energize Vermont, spokesman Lukas B. Snelling said the appellants have submitted photographic evidence in their motion to halt construction. Energize Vermont is a nonprofit advocating for renewable energy projects in scale with the state’s landscape and is fighting the Sheffield wind project.
“Recent photographs of the site show that inadequate storm water runoff protection has done irreparable harm at the project site and that the best management practices [BMPs] required by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources [ANR] permit have not protected the site’s five head water streams,” according to the news release.
The appellants’ lawyer, Stephanie Kaplan, said she hopes the new photos would help the court to understand the neighbors’ and appellants’ sense of urgency.
“We believe these photographs demonstrate convincingly what is at stake by allowing First Wind to continue construction with an inadequate permit,” Kaplan said. “The damage done is already permanent and substantial, but the spring construction season has just barely started. Work at the site must be stopped before further runoff can harm the natural resources on the site.”
First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne on Friday said, “Three state inspectors were on site one of the days these photos were allegedly taken. They did not document any permit violations. This is the fourth inspection the state has conducted on the site and there have been no permit violations.
“The project is being conducted in strict compliance with the permit we received from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation,” Lamontagne said. “We’re proud of the project, the fact that it will deliver clean energy to Vermont residents and businesses and economic opportunity to the region.”
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