Windmills are not whirling along the southern shores of prince Edward County yet.
Late Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Environment The Ministry of Environment issued an approval for Gilead Power’s nine-turbine Ostrander Point Project in Prince Edward County, but there will be at least one appeal of the decision.
Mayor Peter Mertens said the municipality will file motion of appeal before the Jan. 4 deadline.
“The timing of this is terrible and I don’t think that just by coincidence, but we plan on filing a motion of appeal before the deadline,” he said. “This is a matter for council to deal with and we don’t meet again until the new year, but at least if we file a notice of our appeal, it will reserve our spot in the process.”
As a part of the standard Renewable Energy Approvals process, any resident of Ontario has fifteen calendar days from the notice of approval to request an appeal of the decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal at the Ministry.
In the meantime, Mertens said staff will be busy in an effort to determine if the municipality has a basis for the appeal.
“The tribunal limits the appeal to environmental issues, so we need to study if we have a valid reason to appeal this,” Mertens said. “You have 15 days to file and they announce it just as everyone is shutting down for holidays – that certainly raises some questions.”
Not everyone is the municipality is upset with Thursday’s announcement.
Don Chisholm, of the County Sustainability Group, said he is looking forward to the Ostrander Point project proceeding.
“I think it’s well deserved, they’ve made a well-prepared presentation throughout the entire process and I’m glad it finally went through,” he said. This will be the first in Prince Edward County and we are finally seeing some change.”
Chisholm said while he expects there will be appeals filed against the decision, the project should still proceed.
“I expect that (appeals) will happen but I think we are seeing a change in momentum in that regard,” he said. “There may be some delay because of it, but I for one am very much looking forward to seeing this move forward.”
Gilead Power issued a short statement Friday.
“We are very pleased with the Ministry of the Environment’s approval for the Ostrander Point project and we’re committed to making it a model of responsible wind energy development,” said Gilead Power vice-president of project development, Mike Lord. “There are many very specific conditions related to the approval and we are committed to meeting or exceeding the conditions.”
The project will likely draw appeals from other County groups as well.
Henri Garand, chairperson of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) said the group has not reached any decision on an appeal but have been told by legal counsel the Jan. 4, deadline would not be a problem.
“This decision is certainly disappointing to say the least, but at this point I cannot comment on an appeal,” he said. “There are a lot of things in play here and there are other County groups we are in contact with and waiting to see which direction they want to go. It is safe to say that there is talk amongst the groups of filing.”
Garth Manning, president of the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE) said his group is outraged at the decision.
“This (decision) shows contempt for the government’s own due process,” he said. “This is wrong in so many ways, not to mention a blatant conflict of interest with one ministry paying money to another ministry with the taxpayer’s money and they’ve ignored the advice of their own environmental commissioner, who warned of the dangers of putting turbines in an Important Bird Area.”