A court motion filed by opponents of a wind energy development on Amherst Island is meant to challenge the approval process for such projects as much as it is meant to stop the Amherst Island project itself.
The Association to Protect Amherst Island filed an application for a judicial review of a decision by the Ministry of Environment that allowed the Amherst Island project to move ahead, a decision the group argued was based on incomplete information.
A request for a judicial appeal was always going to be part of APAI’s strategy in it’s fight against the turbines, said association president Peter Large.
“This is not a bunch of people who don’t want turbines in their backyard,”Large said.
“This is about a group of people who are very concerned about the health of people who live here, about the wildlife, about the heritage and the history, which the government, in its rather casual approval of these incomplete reports, doesn’t seem to care much about.”
On Thursday, APAI filed a application for a judicial review of the Jan. 2 decision by the Ministry of the Environment to declare complete the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) submitted by Windlectric Inc., the company seeking to build the Amherst Island wind project.
The application named Algonquin Power subsidiary Windlectric, the director of environmental approvals and the provincial ministries of the environment, natural resources and tourism, culture and sport.
Windlectric plans to build a 75-megawatt wind energy project on the 70-square-km Amherst Island, involving up to 36 turbines.
Large said the application is an expression of the concern many island residents have about the project going ahead without key safeguards being in place.
Large said the REA approval was based on incomplete or “cursory” reports about emergency response, cultural heritage and natural environment.
“With these loosely approved reports by the ministries, the public remains unprotected if this project went forward,” he said.
“They are supposed to have a plan before they ever get approval to do the work here. Their response has been ‘We will have a plan, we will do one.’ That is not acceptable to us.”
If the project goes ahead based on incomplete information Large said the company may not be held to account for damage done during the project’s construction or operation.
“It’s not that we don’t want turbines around here. We don’t,” Large said. “But by allowing these loosely approved reports go forward into an approval to construct, Algonquin has a much easier, less restricted approach that they can, and would, take in getting around on this island.
“They wouldn’t have to worry about noise limits because it is going to be allowed. They wouldn’t have to worry about knocking down stone walls because that’s OK. They wouldn’t have to worry about damaging species at risk habitat because the ministry said that’s okay.”
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