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As they said they would, an advocacy group has appealed the decision to allow a 77-turbine wind farm to be built in west Niagara, but they have no disillusions of their chances of winning.
A preliminary hearing for a tribunal that could overturn the wind farm approval has now been scheduled for Dec. 19 at the Wellandport Community Centre.
That building, on Canborough Rd. in Smithville, has become a key site in the wind turbine debate, with numerous public meetings held there as progress on the massive development has slowly moved forward.
Niagara Region Wind Corp. was given the green light to move forward with its industrial wind turbine project in early November when the Ministry of the Environment issued its Renewable Energy Approval.
The project calls for 77 three-megawatt turbines to be built in West Lincoln, Lincoln and Wainfleet. The total development has a capacity of 230 MW, enough to power 70,000 homes and make it the fifth-largest wind farm in North America.
At the time of the approval, NRWC CEO Merv Croghan said the company was moving forward with “very detailed construction design plans.
“We’re getting into the real micro detailing of the project,” he said.
Two weeks after the REA was issued, Mothers Against Wind Turbines filed an appeal. Board member Linda Rogers said they’re fighting “to protect children and families in our communities against the wind turbine emissions.”
But Rogers was candid Saturday about the little hope of victory the advocacy group has.
“I’ve lost track how many tribunals there have been and we’re basically batting zero,” said Rogers, who figures there have been between 20 and 30 appeals lost in Ontario alone.
“The tribunals are destined to fail. The level of proof we have to muster is not just beyond the ability of a person in the public, it’s beyond Health Canada and beyond the knowledge of science right now,” she said.
In its notice issued Friday to announce the hearing, Environment and Land Tribunals
Ontario wrote that the purpose of the hearing is to review the REA and consider if the approved project will “cause serious harm to human health or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.”
If the tribunal feels harm could be caused by the project, it could overrule the REA or alter what was approved.
Requests for comment from the NRWC were not returned on the weekend.
Rogers said even though the odds are stacked against them, Mothers Against Wind Turbines is willing to keep fighting.
“Why do it? Because it’s the right thing to do. If we don’t do it, who will? We expect to lose, but we’re doing it with open eyes,” she said. “Our hope is that it will go to a higher level of court because you have a right to decide what happens to you and your children.”
The preliminary hearing for the Tribunal will be held at the Wellandport Community Centre at 10 a.m. Dec. 19 to determine who will be allowed to speak, and what issues will be considered at the main hearing. Anyone who wants to be considered during the preliminary hearing must make a request in writing to the hearing planner by 4 p.m. on Dec. 15 to email@example.com.
After the preliminary hearing on Dec. 19, the main hearing will begin Jan. 19 at the same location starting at 10 a.m.
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