The appeal by Skydive Burnaby over two wind turbines being built by Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. on Station Rd. has been dismissed by the Environmental Review Tribunal.
The decision was released Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m really happy … really elated. Everyone in the office is really happy,” said Tom Rankin, CEO of Rankin Construction Inc. and partner in Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. with the Loeffen family.
Rankin said he was always pretty confident justice would prevail and the company would move forward with the final part of the five wind turbine project.
“I always felt our case was stronger than theirs. Our lawyers did a great job,” said Rankin. “We’re going to be moving forward now. The project was delayed quite a few months.”
He said for the project to be completed, all five turbines have to be operating. He said work would begin on the Station Rd. site as soon as a large crane used on the other three turbines could be moved over.
The appeal on the project was filed in 2013 by Mike and Tara Pitt, owners of Skydive Burnaby, who were concerned over the risk to skydivers from the two turbines, which will be located 1.5 kilometres west of the skydive facility.
A stay order was issued on the two turbines while the tribunal was being held, but work continued on the other three in the project. Those three are located off of Concession 1 between Side Road 20 and Side Road 22.
An Environmental Review Tribunal hearing was held over three different weeks in Wainfleet, wrapping up on February 28, and saw lawyers for Skydive Burnaby, Ministry of Environment and Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. present witnesses to bolster their respective positions.
Skydive Burnaby’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, focused on the human health risk to skydivers in relation to the turbines during the hearing. He brought in witnesses from Canada, the U.S. and England to talk about that risk.
Lawyers for Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. also brought in various witnesses to show there would be no risk to skydivers from the turbines.
In his decision, Environmental Review Tribunal vice-chair Dirk VanderBent said “… the Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not established that the Health Test has been met on the grounds that skydivers will be seriously harmed by collision with wind turbines T4 and T5 or interaction with their turbulence wakes.”
He also wrote, “… the Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not adduced sufficient evidence to establish that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health. Consequently, the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction under s. 145.2.1 (4) of the EPA to address the Appellants’ request that the REA should be revoked. Their appeals, therefore, are dismissed.”
Skydive Burnaby lawyer Eric Gillespie could not be reached for comment.
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