West Grey was to find out Tuesday what its status will be at an appeal of the Ministry of the Environment’s approval of the East Durham Wind project.
Late last week the municipality was told it had until Tuesday to justify why it should be given party status at the appeal of the Ministry of Environment’s approval of the project. Otherwise West Grey will go into the April 1 hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal as a participant but not a party.
The appeal was brought by West Grey resident Leonard Van Den Bosch Jan. 29 after the MOE approved the proposed 23 megawatt project planned for near Priceville by the Canadian arm of Florida-based NextEra Energy.
As a party, the municipality will be allowed to call witnesses, cross examine witnesses, put forth motions, take part in mediation and ask for or be liable for costs.
Participants are allowed to give their own evidence and make oral or written submissions but they can’t call witnesses, raise new issues, cross examine witnesses or take part in mediation.
There is a third status, that of presenter, with even more limited scope.
West Grey councilor Bev Cutting said she was told by vice chair Robert Wright by phone late last week that it’s extremely difficult to change to an enhanced status.
“You can go down but you can’t go up. Chances of getting it are pretty slim . . . even though there is frustration it’s the only system we have to work within. We have to give it our best shot,” Cutting said.
So far only Van Den Bosch, the Ministry of the Environment and NextEra Energy have party status.
Van Den Bosch’s appeal alleges that chemicals used in making the concrete wind turbine foundations will leach into the aquifer that supplies drinking water to neighbours and the nearby Saugeen River. He points to three turbines on a property next door his home on the North Line in the former Glenelg Township.
His appeal also claims that the same chemicals pose a threat to the presence of the Redside Dace – an endangered fish species found in creeks on his property and the Saugeen River.
Van Den Bosch said the MOE in 2004 sent a letter to his brother, who was living on the property next to three of the proposed turbines, to confirm the presence of the endangered species. His brother died before they could get permission to visit his property. Leonard Van Den Bosch now lives on the property.
During a preliminary hearing held in Durham last week Van Den Bosch noted that environmental studies used to support NextEra’s application to the MOE makes no mention of the Redside Dace. Company representatives at the hearing admitted they weren’t aware of its presence.
NextEra has refused to tell Van Den Bosch what ingredients are used to make the 800 tonnes concrete used for each wind turbine. He plans to conduct his own research to get the answers in time for the hearing set start April 1 in Durham.
“Why is the Ministry of the Environment allowing permits for turbines when (NextEra) hasn’t done proper studies on the species in the area. And why won’t NextEra tell us what’s in the cement? Why doesn’t the Wynne government tell the public what is in the cement that they are putting over our drinking water aquifer. Or does the government even know?” said Van Den Bosch?
Last Saturday Van Den Bosch held a meeting in Durham to rally support for his appeal and seek financial help. He needs $25,000 almost immediately as a retainer for a lawyer to begin preparing for next month’s five-day hearing.
He’s opened an account at the Saugeen Community Credit Union in Durham which has branches in Holstein, Elmwood and Chesley where donations can be made to an account entitled “Stop the E.D. (East Durham) wind project.”
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker dropped in on Saturday’s meeting to lend his support to the appeal calling on the provincial government to impose a moratorium on wind energy in the province until further studies are completed.
“My only message to you today is to stand behind Len and support him in any way you can. We are the only party at Queen’s Park talking about doing anything about wind turbines. You’ve seen what the Liberals have done. They’ve had yet another election to change their channel. They haven’t done anything. Not one word of the Green Energy Act has been changed by Kathleen Wynne. The ability of your municipal council to have any say is still not there at all” said Walker.
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