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Wind turbine appeals get go ahead

HAGERSVILLE – The Ministry of Environment has failed in its bid to have a challenge to the Summerhaven wind turbine project near Jarvis dismissed.

Last week in Hagersville, Nadine Harris, a lawyer for the MOE, asked the Environmental Review Tribunal to dismiss an appeal from Haldimand Wind Concerns and aboriginal hunter William Monture of Six Nations on the grounds that the appeals were beyond the purview of the tribunal.

The motion for dismissal was heard at the Hagersville Community Centre last Friday. The tribunal, chaired by Heather Gibbs, denied the MOE request in a written decision late Monday.

In its decision, the tribunal dismissed Monture’s complaint that the sponsor of the Summerhaven wind farm has a duty under law to consult with First Nations before proceeding with the project.

However, the tribunal agreed that Monture’s appeal can proceed on the grounds that the 58-unit turbine project may have an impact on plant life, wildlife and the environment.

The review tribunal has set aside 10 days at the end of the month for a full hearing, which will take place at the Hagersville Community Centre.

HWC wants to call a number of witnesses who claim to have suffered ill health effects from wind turbine projects elsewhere. In the absence of a dismissal of the appeal, Harris asked the tribunal to force these witnesses to present complete medical records dating back 10 years.

Eric Gillespie of Toronto, lawyer for HWC, argued that the request was unnecessary, expensive and impossible to fulfill within a reasonable period of time. HWC instead has collected sworn affidavits from its witnesses and plans to call several expert witnesses to testify about their evidence.

In its decision Monday, the review tribunal ordered HWC to file “all relevant medical documents that are currently in its possession, and which counsel for HWC referred to as ‘ready to go.’”

The tribunal has yet to decide how these documents will be handled. Until a decision is made, affidavits and associated medical information will be kept confidential.

The tribunal also has not decided whether HWC will be able to call lay witnesses to testify about alleged ill health effects suffered due to wind turbine projects elsewhere. The tribunal has also not decided whether expert witnesses will be allowed to provide opinion testimony based on the testimony of lay witnesses.

The parties to this hearing will discuss these issues and more at a preliminary hearing in Toronto Wednesday, May 9.