Two men received standing ovations from several hundred people attending a Town Hall meeting on the impact of wind turbines in the County, last week.
The first was for County councillor Robert Quaiff, who last week sought support to declare the County is “Not a Willing Host’ for turbines. About 90 Ontario municipalities have passed or are reviewing the resolution. Last week he also spoke at Queen’s Park in support of the defeated Bill 39 “Ensuring Affordable Energy Act”.
The second ovation followed a presentation by Eric Gillespie, Ostrander Point Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) legal counsel for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).
There are just two grounds for an ERT appeal of an approved wind project – proving serious and irreversible harm to plants, animals or the environment and proving seriousharm to human health. The PECFN has been supporting the former, APPEC, in phase two, the latter. Each group is fundraising to gain about $125,000 to fund its phase of the appeal.
Gillespie updated last week’s events and noted nine experts have testified for the PECFN. Gillespie said the ERT panel has accepted their presentations on the serious and irreversible harm of turbines to bats, birds, butterflies, turtles and the environment as “expert testimony” while noting a few of Gilead Power’s witnesses have “limited expertise” and the Ministry of Environment’s presentation “experienced” in reviewing reports.
The next phase of the ERT involves 21 witnesses who will explain how they are suffering “serious harm” to their health by living near turbines.
There is a government-imposed six-month limit on the appeal, meaning July 3 is the last date the two member panel has to render their decision.
Gillespie also spoke to legal challenges outside the ERT process, in the court system, relating to concerns about property values.
He told the audience of an Ontario court decision Monday in relation to the claim, from residents of Clearview Township, near Collingwood, that announced projects affect property values.
“On Monday a decision came out from that court agreeing with the position of our clients that property values in that community, based on the expert appraisal evidence, had already dropped by somewhere between 20 and 50 per cent. That’s the evidence the court has accepted for that community and knowing the expert involved it’s fair to say there’s at least a reasonable chance the same type of impacts are occurring in other communities, and could well be occurring already here in the County,” Gillespie said. “For years, wind companies and government agencies have been saying ‘that doesn’t happen, that will never happen’ and that is no longer correct. A judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has said otherwise as of this week.”
Garth Manning, lawyer and chair of the evening’s host, the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE), welcomed the audience, outlined the evening and also reported on property devaluation of 20 to 50 per cent for nearby homes.
Master of Ceremonies, Steve Campbell, journalist, author and humourist, introduced all the evening’s speakers.
Gary Mooney, of CCSAGE, mapped the extent of development – 850+ turbines – planned for both the County and eastern Lake Ontario.
“Our primary concern about turbines,” he said, “Is that if we get any, we’ll likely get many.”
Cheryl Anderson, of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, described the natural environment and species threatened at Ostrander Point.
Alan Whiteley, lawyer, described a possible class action relating to damages caused by wind turbine construction.
Carlyn Moulton addressed losses for the County’s creative and tourist economy.
Dr. Robert McMurtry listed adverse health effects and outlined worldwide delay and denial of health research by the wind industry and governments.
The evening closed with Ian Hanna, the plaintiff in the 2011 judicial review of the Green Energy Act, who praised the determination and generosity the County has shown, and urged the audience to ensure the ERT appeal has all the funding it needs for success. He said the Ostrander Point ERT is going to “inflict serious and irreversible harm on the wind industry.”
Following the presentations, questions to the speakers were followed by a showing of the documentary ‘Wind Rush’, originally aired in February on the CBC’s Doc Zone program.