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Wind turbine preliminary hearing underway; Mothers Against Wind Turbines begin appeal

WELLANDPORT – A group of mothers has begun the monumental task of challenging the province’s tallest wind farm.

A preliminary hearing for an environmental tribunal, which will decide on the appeal filed by Mothers Against Turbines Inc., is underway at the Wellandport Community Centre. The group is opposed to plans by Niagara Region Wind Corp. to erect 77 wind turbines ‹ which will be the tallest in North America once they are built. The government gave approval to the project, which will see 135-metre turbines erected in West Lincoln, Wainfleet and Haldimand, last month. While the group has launched its appeal on issues raised by other appellants in the province, paramount to their appeal is protecting the most vulnerable citizens – children.

“Host farmers across the province of Ontario are able to put turbines less than the safe setback of 550 metres closer to their homes,” said MAWT president Marianne Kidd, a mother to three, noting host property owners waive the right to be protected by the province’s 550-metre setback standard when they sign agreements with the wind companies. “That is one of our big concerns. That can effect children in their care, so we are appealing on behalf of those children.”

MAWT alleges they have several grounds to prove the proposed project will cause “serious and irreversible harm to plants, animals and the natural environment”, which is what the tribunal can decide on. The group also alleges the project will harm butterflies and endangered tree species in the project area. They say studies by NRWC are incomplete and that several required site surveys were never conducted.

“The programs surrounding the NRWC project are many but simply put, it is that the turbines are too close to where rural people live, work and play. The most vulnerable members of our communities needing protection will be the children,” said Kidd.

Despite several appeals filed against wind projects in Ontario since the passing of the Liberal’s Green Energy Act, no group has won an environmental review tribunal. The first case to make it to divisional court was heard last month, groups including MAWT and the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group have asked for intervenor status on the case and are anxiously awaiting the results.

The actual hearing for MAWT will take place Monday, Jan. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Wellandport Community Centre.