Opponents of Nextera Energy’s 92-turbine Jericho wind energy project have a lot to think about, but not a lot of time, as they consider whether or not to appeal the wind farm’s recent provincial environmental approval.
Marcelle Brooks, with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, said they have until April 29 to file an appeal with Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal.
“We’re still going through all the paperwork,” Brooks said.
Ontario allows 15 days for an appeal once the Ministry of the Environment has approved a renewable energy project, and the Jericho approval came down April 14.
“We’re really trying to scramble to see if we can get this deadline met,” Brooks said.
If the wind action group files an appeal, it will go to the tribunal on its own, without a lawyer, she said.
“We don’t have any money at all . . . this truly is grassroots.”
The tribunal hears appeals on grounds that approval of a project will cause serious harm to human health, or serious and irreversible harm to plants, animals or the natural environment.
Construction can begin on renewable energy projects while an appeal is underway, unless the tribunal issues a stay order.
Nextera spokesperson Josie Bird said clearing and grading work has begun at a construction lay-down yard on Thomson Line in Lambton Shores.
“Generally, a project like this will take six to nine months to complete,” Bird said.
The project’s wind turbines will be located in Lambton Shores and Warwick Township, with transmission lines running into North Middlesex.
Nextera has applied to the Ontario Energy Board for approval of the power lines, and other work needed to connect the project to Ontario’s electricity grid.
“We’re anticipating we’ll get the decision, probably, in the next couple of weeks,” Bird said.
Brooks said she believes the process of appealing to the environmental review tribunal is stacked against wind opponents.
“What’s particularly intimidating is that if we lose, which in all likelihood we will, we can be responsible for costs,” Brooks said.
“So, we’ve got a lot to consider here.”
Brooks said only one renewable energy project, of dozens that have been appealed, has been overturned by the tribunal. And, she added, that decision was appealed by the wind company and is still making its way through the courts.
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