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Request granted to withdraw appeal to ERT

A quick decision has been delivered granting a request by Kevin Jakubec to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) to withdraw his appeal regarding a renewable energy approval (REA) for a wind farm in North Kent.

But information regarding a settlement that was reached in this matter is not being provided in such a timely manner.

A decision was delivered by Jerry V. Demarco, Associate Chair, on Thursday to accept the appeal withdrawal requested by Jakubec, the appellant in an appeal launched with the ERT regarding a REA issued by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Control for the construction of the North Kent Wind Project in North Kent.

The written decision noted a preliminary hearing began on Aug. 23 and continued by telephone conference call on Aug. 29, which led to an interest in mediation. This took place on Sept. 30, with counsel for Jakubec writing to the tribunal on Wednesday to withdraw the appeal and requested, on behalf of all parties, that the tribunal dismiss the proceedings without cost.

Demarco’s decision stated: “The only issue is whether the proceeding should be dismissed.”

He based his decision the rule surrounding Rule 199 – “Termination of Proceedings.”

This states, in part, the tribunal shall dismiss a proceeding where there has been a proposed withdrawal that has been agreed to by all parties, and the decision under appeal is not altered.

The decision stated that the appellant’s lawyer indicated to the tribunal that a settlement agreement entered into by the parties does not alter the REA. It was also indicated that Jakubec is withdrawing his appeal and that all parties agree to a dismissal of the proceedings on a without cost basis.

The Chatham Daily has attempted to reach Jakubec for a second day to seek comment on the factors that led to him deciding to withdraw his appeal as well as details surrounding the settlement that was reached.

On July 13, Jakubec filed an appeal of the REA under the Environmental Protection Act, on the grounds the wind farm project will cause serious harm to human health and serious and irreversible harm to the natural environment. In particular, concerns have been raised by the citizens’ group Water Wells First, which Jakubec is involved with, that the vibrations from an existing wind farm are causing turbidity and sediments to rise in the water wells of several landowners in the former Dover Township, near where the North Kent Wind project will be built.

Demarco also issued a decision on Sept. 30 denying a request by Jakubec for a lengthy adjournment made during the preliminary hearing process, which would have taken the matter beyond the six-month deadline the tribunal has to deal with the appeal of a REA.

According to the decision delivered, Jakubec requested a lengthy adjournment with the aim of filing more evidence in late October, with the start of the hearing likely to begin some time in November or later, depending on what effect the additional evidence would have on the respondents’ preparation for the hearing.

In denying this request, the decision notes the tribunal had already granted the appellant a shorter adjournment to Oct. 5.

The decision also agreed with Storer Boone, of Golder Associates, an expert witness for North Kent Wind, that the additional evidence the appellant was seeking to collect would not assist the tribunal in understanding the issues regarding whether the operation of the project as approved will affect groundwater and water wells.

The decision noted the appellant provided no convincing evidence to counter Boone’s evidence.

Jody Law, of Pattern Energy, an owner the North Kent Wind project, told The Daily News in an e-mail on Thursday: “Golder provided an in-depth analysis of the issue under appeal, which supports our conclusion that the project’s REA approval addresses the concerns of well water impacts brought for by Mr. Jakubec.”

Pattern Energy also stated it has not encountered other claims about wind turbines impacting wells.

The Daily News received an e-mail response from the environment ministry on Thursday, which stated: “At this time, it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the settlement.”

The Daily News followed up by asking why the details could not be discussed and is waiting for a response from the ministry.