The Ontario government’s handling of the Amherst Island wind energy project is “a calamity of governance and environmental policy,” says a Queen’s University academic.
In a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, retired professor John Schram, a senior fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy and an Amherst Island resident, compared the policy decisions that led to the Ontario government’s approval of the project to how governments operate in developing nations where legitimacy and oversight is often lacking.
“Decisions have been made which could be understood in many of the African countries in which I have worked, but in the Canadian context seem dramatically out of place and counterproductive,” wrote Schram. “A money-making scheme has been dressed up as pursuit of a noble environmental goal; a fiercely committed but far-from-wealthy group of islanders and friends are pitted against substantial corporations with incomparable legal and financial resources and the promise of taxpayer subsidies.
“The result of this uneven battle could indeed be the destruction of the very environment that green energy is designed to preserve.”
In August 2015, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change gave conditional approval to Windlectric’s plan to build up to 26 wind turbines on Amherst Island.
In early August, the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal dismissed a challenge to the project approval by the Association to Protect Amherst Island. That decision is currently under appeal.
The electricity from the 75 megawatt project is not needed, Schram wrote, because Ontario already has a surplus of energy production.
Schram wrote that the policies and legislation used to expand the province’s renewable energy production have become “a money-making scheme designed by generating companies to attract and exist on government subsidies.”
Schram wrote that the project would destroy the natural environment on the island, kill wildlife and damage heritage sites.
“Though green energy is essential, and environmental concerns must be preeminent, the pursuit of provincial political objectives through robbing Canadians and Ontario of a valuable natural assets requires forceful public comment – not only from those immediately affected, but from those who are making the decisions and allowing it to happen,” he wrote.
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