LOWELL – Green Mountain Power has hired extra security for the Lowell wind project.
That’s because the worksite on the ridgeline is shut down and quiet for a four-day long weekend, GMP spokesman Don Lorraine said Friday.
The site has had one security officer, but another has been added through the weekend “for security and safety,” he said.
There is a lot of large equipment and vehicles on site that need to be looked after, he said.
The worksite has been humming for nearly two months, since GMP contractors began constructing the access road, crane path and the first pads for the 21 industrial-grade wind turbines destined for the ridgeline.
For part of that time, protesters have gathered almost daily on the edge of the worksite at first to actively hinder blasting by being in the blast safety zone and then to bear witness to the leveling and filling of the crane path and turbine locations.
This week featured a change in that strategy.
After two Sterling College students were charged with criminal contempt of court for being within the safety zone on the nearby property of Don and Shirley Nelson of Lowell, the protesters decided to take their occupation into the worksite.
Last Saturday, documented by some news reports and their own blogs of the event at lowellmountainnews, they walked into a quiet construction zone and planted a handful of trees in a symbolic gesture.
Their intent was to be within the construction zone on a strip of ridgeline land that the Nelsons are claiming in court is theirs.
They went back on Monday, with construction fully underway, and said they only left when a deputy sheriff announced that blasting was about to take place.
The site where they put the trees and where the work is underway is owned by Trip Wileman of Moose Mountain Forestry in Lowell, who is leasing it to GMP for the wind project.
The Nelsons have claimed that the property is theirs. They launched a lawsuit over the property this fall after GMP sued them to stop the protests from hindering the blasting.
Court action over the wind project continues on various levels.
The lawsuits over the land and interference with the work are progressing in civil court in Newport City. The Vermont Supreme Court has already rejected an appeal about the land dispute, saying the judge at Orleans Superior Court – Civil Division has to hear the case first.
The criminal charges are being heard at Orleans Superior Court – Criminal Division. The two students from Sterling College who were charged have pleaded not guilty. Fellow protesters say they didn’t mean to violate the court order.
The Vermont Public Service Board, which issued a certificate of public good for the wind project, will hear appeals of various permits for the project.
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