The Ontario government is refusing to hear testimony from experts on noise and safety in an ongoing Environmental Review Tribunal, according to the campaign group Wind Concerns Ontario.
In September the Florida-based company NextEra Energy announced the completion of its 124.4 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Haldimand County, Ontario. The project’s development work was initiated in 2006 and it received Renewable Energy Approval in March 2012. The wind farm consists of 56 turbines generating adequate electricity to power around 32,000 homes. The construction work ran for ten months with the company investing roughly $26 million in the project.
The project has, however, been unpopular with some local residents and after a series of protests the battles have moved to the courts. The issue surrounds an activist called Esther Wrightman, who started a couple of websites: Ontario wind resistance, and ML wind action, which she used to lampoon NextEra Energy. In response, NextEra moved a lawsuit against Wrightman against her continued public participation, according to the Toronto Sun.
With Wrightman launching an appeal against the law suit, the Digital Journal spoke with Jane Wilson of the body ‘Wind Concerns Ontario’ about the current legal dispute and the Ontario wind power projects.
Wilson reports that last week, the Environment ministry and power developer NextEra filed motions to deny testimony from witnesses at an appeal launched by Esther Wrightman. According to the Wilson, the ministry and developer are objecting to testimony from medical doctors, a professional engineer with expertise in noise measurement, an acoustician with knowledge of the effect of environmental noise and infrasound on human health, and real estate appraisers.
According to Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, the company are: “Trying to force Esther Wrightman to back down and give up. This appeal is being thwarted by our own government and the wind power developer. But they have no idea how hard people are working to fight this.”
Wilson went on to state the current campaign was wider implications. “What we have is Ontario citizens using their after-tax dollars to fight the government and the Ministry of the Environment to—guess what—save the environment. The Ostrander Point wind power project, which witnesses said would destroy a rare plant environment and endanger hundreds of thousands of migrating birds was halted due to concerns about one animal species, but the Ministry of the Environment and the wind developer, Toronto-based Gilead Power, is now appealing that decision, and local residents are fund-raising to carry on the fight.”
Wilson reports that a demonstration against the wind power project is planned in Strathroy on Saturday, October 19, along Highway 402.
As the Ontario government continues to approve giant wind power generation projects, this current campaign and legal appeal has implications for the future energy strategy in the province.