A wind turbine company will have a chance to prove its eight-turbine project won’t negatively impact the local population of the little brown bat.
The Environmental Review Tribunal hearing the appeal of the renewable energy application for WPD Canada’s Fairview Wind project has ruled the company could have a remedy hearing.
In October, the ERT determined the project’s proximity to the Collingwood Regional Airport, and the Clearview Aerodrome, constituted a risk to human health. It also found the turbines would affect the bat.
However, it also left the door open for WPD to present how it could mitigate the project’s potential impact on the bat; the company has not asked for a remedy hearing on the issue of human health.
WPD plans to erect eight 500-foot turbines in an area around County Road 91, including two considered within the four-kilometre ‘outer circle’ of the airport.
In a teleconference hearing on Thursday morning to discuss whether a remedy hearing would be conducted in writing or orally, Eric Gillespie, the counsel for appellant John Wiggins, continued to argue the “mootness” of holding a hearing on the bat issue when the issue of human health wasn’t being challenged.
“In our view, the issue of mootness has not been canvassed … it has not been resolved,” he said, adding his client wanted to put forward motions whether there should even be a remedy hearing. “In our respectful view, the starting point is there are a number of issues that would even need to be resolved before we start looking at schedules and witnesses.”
Gillespie and hearing chairman Dirk Vanderbent briefly sparred on the issue, as the counsellor questioned whether the tribunal had “closed on the issue of mootness.”
“We’ve ruled on it,” Vanderbent responded.
“So the tribunal’s mind is closed on that?” Gillespie retorted.
“I’m not going to use that wording … I’ve said what I can say on it,” Vanderbent said, advising Gillespie if he had a motion to bring forward it would be dealt with as a matter of course.
Gillespie also advised the tribunal it needed evidence on his client’s financial capabilities, “because this has a huge bearing on whether our client can even continue to participate.”
The counsel for the Town of Collingwood and Simcoe County, Richard Butler, urged the tribunal to conduct a hearing expeditiously.
“My client has significant prejudice facing it because of the inability to move forward with business at the airport in the face of an REA,” he told Thursday’s hearing. “Collingwood is unable to make important decisions at the airport while the REA is in place, despite our submission the option is there for the tribunal to revoke.”
WPD Canada intends to call two witnesses to address how it would mitigate the project’s impact on bats.
The matter has been adjourned to late February for an oral hearing.
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