The fight against the development of the wpd Fairview Wind Farm is going into extra rounds after Collingwood council voted to initiate an appeal against a ministry decision to green light the controversial project.
After hearing the challenges faced when launching an appeal with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s decision from Richard Butler, a lawyer with Willms and Shier environmental law firm council voted unanimously in favour of an appeal.
Butler informed council that they only had 15 days after the initial decision to appeal, setting their deadline for Feb. 26.
wpd Canada was granted approval by ministry last Thursday a day before Clearview Township and Collingwood were have a hearing in court.
“I think we know what we have to do to protect our assets,” said deputy mayor Brian Saunderson who tabled the motion. “It was discouraging to hearing that out of 199 applications at first instance only two have been rejected, but the statistic on the appeals, only two were successful but others have settled along the way.”
One contentious element of the nearly 10-year application was that initially the plan was for the wind turbines were planned for outside of the Collingwood Airport’s flight paths and changed when the plan was resubmitted in June of 2011.
“The course of action that we have taken, is to do this in a staged approach and you can’t get in the game without initiating the appeal and then we will marshall our evidence and see how things move forward,” said Saunderson.
Council was told that there are really only two elements that the appeal tribunal will consider, which include serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life of the natural environment and the endangerment of human life.
Members of the Collingwood Services Board called from the audience that at least two fatal instances in the United States where planes have collided with wind turbines.
“I think that we have a very valid case, I think that our case is very different from those appeals that we heard about,” said Coun. Mike Edwards, who is also chair of the airport services board.
“I think if we can get the tribunal to hear all of the facts, and really the type of airport that we have, this is a busy airport, this is a growing airport and the community is growing.”
Collingwood Airport used to be designated as an airport until Transport Canada encouraged board members to give up their designation to help streamline Transport Canada’s workload in reporting. If the airport was still designated as an airport this application for a wind farm would never have been rejected.
“When you look at the air above, it is still airplanes flying into this airport regardless of whether you are certified or uncertified so why should there be two different standards.” said Edwards.
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