The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) is preparing for a possible legal battle with Dufferin Wind Power Inc.
On Friday (Jan. 10), Jonathon Myers and Crawford Smith, lawyers for the company appeared before the NVCA board. Darren White, vice-chair of the board, said they asked the NVCA to disregard Conservation Authority Act regulations and approve four building permits related to the wind project that were deemed incomplete by staff.
“The motion that was subsequently passed was that we would uphold staff’s decision and not issue permits in accordance with our regulations,” White said.
The wind development company has received provincial approval to build a 49-turbine wind farm in Melancthon and a 230 kV transmission line to Amaranth, which would generate 99 MW of electricity when operational.
When a building permit is filed, conservation authorities examine the plan to ensure environmental safety.
“They’ll make sure there is no wetland interference or wetland modification damage to any conservation authority property,” White said.
White explained NVCA staff did not find any technical problems with the four permit requests, but Dufferin Wind did not have approval from the owners of the property. According to White, one of the properties in question is the rail corridor owned by Dufferin County. Dufferin Wind has filed for expropriation to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for use of those county-owned lands.
“They didn’t have landowner approval to do any construction on those properties,” White said. “That’s something the conservation authority requires.”
Dufferin Wind has appealed for a judicial order demanding the permits be issued, according to White. He added the company has also appealed to the Mining and Lands Commissioner to get approval to proceed.
“We’re going to have to go through the process. Our lawyer is going to prepare whatever he has to prepare,” White said. “We’ll have to see how that plays out. These processes will have to work their way forward.”
Although several specific questions to Dufferin Wind were not answered by The Banner’s deadline, the company did email a brief statement.
“Dufferin Wind Power is currently working with all conservation authorities in the area to ensure project compliance,” the company’s spokesperson Connie Roberts said in an email. “We are grateful for the conservation authority’s’ diligence and support throughout this process and will continue to work to ensure Dufferin Wind Power meets all permitting requirements.”
White said he wasn’t sure if the Green Energy Act would trump the conservation authority’s permit process.
“No one had really had to challenge a Conservation Authority Act yet,” White said. “Usually, everybody falls into step like dominos.”
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