Hydro One has initiated a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) to construct a connection point for the White Pines Industrial Wind Turbine project with hopes for approval and a construction start as early as December.
The connection point to facilitate the industrial turbines is located across from Hydro One’s existing Picton Transformer Station north of County Road 5/Gorsline Road. The planned project will involve the construction of a 36.6 metre steel structure on wpd property to connect the existing 230 kilovolt transmission line to wpd’s switching station.
Robert McAuley, the County’s Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works, told Hydro One the decision is premature.
“HONI undertaking the Class EA, and more particularly undertaking construction as early as next month, is premature. In my opinion HONI should await the final decision of the Environmental Tribunal before engaging in construction.”
Mayor Robert Quaiff says Hydro One “needs to cool its jets. Do they know something we don’t?”
In early April, the Tribunal granted a motion to stay construction at the White Pines site for the 27-turbine project on the south shore of Prince Edward County.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) had filed the appeal as wpd Canada had commenced clearing vegetation in the habitat where endangered Blandings turtles live.
In February, an appeal of the project was upheld in part, as the Tribunal found the project will cause serious and irreversbile harm to the Little Brown Bat, and Blanding’s turtles. The Tribunal did agreed to hold a phase two of the hearing to determine if there is any remedy.
At the ERT last November, APPEC had to prove, for the first time in REA (Renewable Energy Approval) history, that the turbine development “will” cause harm, not “may”, or “could”.
Approval for the project was granted last July. Local businessman John Hircsh, and APPEC, contested the approval on the sole grounds allowed – causing “serious harm to human health or the natural environment”.
That phase one of the appeal ws completed in just over six months from filing to decision. Phase two, where the proponent can propose remedy, is nearing nine months, with a decision still months away.
In July 2016, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ more than six-year battle to protect the County’s south shore ended in victory when the ERT hearing revoked the Renewable Energy Approval from the Gilead Power Corporation.
In their decision, ERT vice-chairs Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright stated “The Tribunal finds that to proceed with the project, when it will cause serious and irreversible harm to animal life, a species at risk and its habitat, is not consistent with the general and renewable energy approval purposes of the Environmental Protection Act, protection and conservation of the natural environment and protection and conservation of the environment, nor does it serve the public interest.
“In this particular case, preventing such harm outweighs the policy of promoting renewable energy through this nine wind turbine project in this location.”
A public information session is being hosted Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Waring House to hear an update on various legal challenges to wind projects.
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