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Dismissal motions dismissed

It’s full steam ahead for the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group’s appeal of Ontario’s decision to approve a four-turbine wind farm near Watford.

On Valentine’s Day, Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal released its decision, rejecting Environment Ministry motions to dismiss the appeal filed by the group opposed to industrial wind projects.

Mississauga-based Green Breeze Energy Inc., began work in late 2011 on the $22-million, 10-MW Zephyr Farms energy generation project, down the road from Watford in Brooke-Alvinston Township.

“The tribunal has said that the appellant met both the requirements under the Environmental Protection Act, and the requirements under the environmental tribune’s own rules,” said Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the wind action group.

“So, the motions to dismiss have themselves been dismissed.”

The tribunal is scheduled to begin hearing the appeal March 7 in Alvinston.

The tribunal also recently rejected a motion filed by the wind company to limit the scope of the evidence at the hearings.

“Which would have been a very narrow range of information,” Gillespie said.

“Instead, the tribunal has confirmed that other than the normal limits at the hearing, there will be no restrictions on the evidence that can be called.”

If the tribunal rules a renewable-energy project will cause serious harm to human health, or the environmental, it can revoke or alter the approval given by the province.

Gillespie said the wind action group plans to call 28 witnesses, including three from the U.S. and Australia the tribunal will be asked to qualify as experts.

There will also be two witnesses from the area where the Zephyr Farms wind project is being built, and 23 from other communities in Ontario wind farms are already operating.

“The tribunal will be hearing directly from people who have lived in close proximity to 10 projects,” Gillespie said.