A preliminary hearing on a 124-turbine wind farm in south Chatham-Kent began Friday, but the Environmental Review Tribunal already had one fewer appeal to deal with.
The appeal of the Eighth and Ninth Line/Bloomfield Road Community Group that had concerns over the safety of farm workers and turbine setbacks was recently dismissed.
“It’s very frustrating for ordinary people,” group spokeswoman Dianne Flook said, noting they were notified on Tuesday of the decision.
The South Kent Wind Farm – a joint venture between Samsung and Pattern Energy – has received conditional approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The companies plan to put 124 turbines between Tilbury and Ridgetown south of Hwy. 401.
Flook said farming is labour intensive and requires further consideration, given anecdotes of turbine failure elsewhere.
“(There have) been instances of turbine collapse and blade fall, but no one has actually been killed or hurt with that happening,” she said. “Because we had no actual factual evidence, our appeal was dismissed.”
More than 20 people attended Friday’s hearing, which was held at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. Several individuals made requests for statuses, as either a participant or presenter.
Flook said her group, which represents 11 farm families, pulled its request for participant status in the tribunal, noting they wouldn’t have been allowed to raise issues not already identified in the notice of appeal.
“They’ve restricted us as to what can we present,” she said.
However, Flook said they still plan to attend the tribunal to listen to testimony.
Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group Inc. is continuing to pursue its appeal, citing potential health impacts.
Several teleconferences are scheduled for next week, with an appearance slated to take place Aug. 21 in Toronto.
The main hearing is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 28 back in council chambers.
However, Eric Gillespie, Toronto-based lawyer for CKWAG, said he will ask for an adjournment on Aug. 21, on the grounds that there are three appeals ongoing in the province, with key witnesses unable to attend each of them.
“I think it’s fair to say later this fall,” he said of his preferred timeframe. “But beyond that, we don’t know how that’s all going to play out.”
Tribunal vice-chairman Paul Muldoon stressed that a decision must be rendered within six months of the appeal.
“It is a challenge for all parties and the tribunal,” he said.
Gillespie also represented appellants of Suncor Energy’s Kent Breeze Wind Farm near Thamesville. That appeal was dismissed last year.
Alexandria Pike, lawyer for Samsung and Pattern, said the approval holder has been given a “laundry list” of health factors, and are seeking medical records.
She also said she didn’t want the appeal to be considered a generic case.
“The (legal) test is project-specific,” she said.
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