A Chatham-Kent citizens’ group may find it has to pay the costs associated with its appeal of a proposed multi-million dollar wind turbine project.
Lawyers for both the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and South Kent Wind – a joint venture by Samsung and Pattern Energy – called Wednesday for the appeal to be dismissed and costs to be assessed against the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, which launched the action.
Paul Muldoom and Maureen Carter-Whitney of the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, who oversaw the morning-long hearing, reserved their decision on the recommendations by the pair of lawyers.
The tribunal has until December to announce its decision.
Danielle Meuleman, lawyer for the MOE, was critical of the citizens’ group for not having its lawyer or expert witnesses present for the hearing.
The lawyer for the citizens’ group had requested an adjournment of the hearing earlier this summer but the request was denied.
“This whole thing is a bit of a waste of time and a bit of abuse by a citizens’ group,” said Meuleman, who was accompanied by two MOE officials.
She said the citizens’ group was clearly not prepared for the tribunal hearing.
Alexandria Pike, lawyer for South Kent Wind, also called for dismissal of the appeal and asked that consideration be given by the tribunal, for recovery of costs from the citizens’ group.
Monica Elmes of Ridgetown, who appeared at the tribunal hearing on behalf of the group, said she was clearly concerned about the group having to pay costs associated with the hearing.
“They (the tribunal) set the rules and it’s not easy for everyday citizens to comply, especially when we only had 15 days to file an appeal,” she said.
Elmes said the group’s lawyer was tied up at a similar tribunal hearing in Haldimand County and three of its expert witnesses were sick.
“I’m very disappointed our legal council couldn’t be here, but we did ask for an adjournment knowing he wouldn’t be able to attend and our request was turned down,” she said.
Elmes said there was also a suggestion that some of the appeals across the province be combined but that suggestion was ruled out.
“This is a very intimidating process – everyday people trying to protect our homes and environment and having to face corporate litigation,” she said.
The tribunal did hear from Tilbury-area resident Ken Ternoey who claimed that the physical presence of turbines may not cause serious harm to human health, but human response to the presence of turbines will cause serious harm to human health.
“Pragmatically, if turbines were not present the issue of harm to health from them would not exist,” he said.
“It’s human response – mind over matter.”
Ternoey, a student at the University of Windsor, recommended delaying the construction of more turbines until more is known about their effects on human health.
He said plans call for a “forest” of turbines between Ridgetown and St. Joachim south of Highway 401.
Ternoey said 50% of the cost of today’s hydro bills is going toward green energy.
“It’s costing us double for our electricity,” he said. “Turbines are out of their time – maybe 50 years from now.”
Eric Erhard of Camlachie, a retired professional engineer with 38 years experience and a degree in chemical engineering, said the number of birds and bats being unjustly harmed by wind turbines bothers him.
“I’m not against wind turbines if they are placed correctly so they don’t damage wildlife and calculate the noise levels using proper methods,” he said.
But Erhard said in his opinion wind turbines are not being applied in acceptable methods.
He told the tribunal he has been paying attention to wind turbines ever since they were first proposed.
“Turbines generate power when we don’t need it,” he said. “It’s not good technology.”
Erhard stressed that he does not belong to any wind organization or anti-wind group.
Both Meuleman and Pike argued Erhard’s qualifications did not make him an expert on turbines and his arguments should be inadmissible.
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