As construction of the Amherst Island wind project begins to ramp up, the group leading the fight against it is again calling for its cancellation.
The Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) asked Chris Ballard, Ontario’s minister of energy and climate change, to revoke the renewable energy approval for the 26-turbine project being built by the Algonquin Power Utilities subsidiary Windlectric Inc.
The provincial government gave the project conditional approval in August 2015 and the Environmental Review Tribunal dismissed APAI’s appeal last year.
The group is asking Ballard to use the power he has under the Environmental Protection Act to cancel the project based on “matters other than law.”
“The latest configuration of this project, which very recently started construction, is radically different from the ones approved by MOECC in 2015,” the group stated in a news release Thursday. “It is also very different in key ways from the one considered by the Environmental Review Tribunal in 2016.
“This is a classic ‘bait and switch’ tactic by the developer.”
In early August, Loyalist Township approved the project’s operations plan.
On Sept. 11 council deferred approval of the project’s preconstruction plan, a collection of technical documents that identify what municipal infrastructure is expected to be affected by the construction.
Windlectric last week delivered aggregate to the island dock site.
APAI and Loyalist Township have expressed concern about the impact of the construction project on the island’s roads network.
“Primary concerns of the township are the capacity of the roadbed, and the ability of the roadbed to drain appropriately, and to ensure that the rights of private property owners are suitably protected,” a report to council stated.
The company has proposed to reconstruct or widen about 20 kilometres of island roads, something APAI said was not included in the project’s plan when the provincial government gave the plan conditional approval more than two years ago.
Many of the island’s roads are forced roads, routes built on private property where only the travelled portion of the roadway is public property.
The forced roads on the island generally evolved from commonly travelled routes and were built without official Crown surveys and public ownership.
South Shore Road resident Martin Hauschild went as far as mounting a legal challenge to planned work on the road in front of his 41-hectare property.
Because the road in front of his property was built on land he owns, neither the township nor the company can build part of the project on that land.
APAI is still awaiting a response to a request made to Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of the environment and climate change, for a review of how building wind turbines along the northeast shore of the lake would affect bird and bat species that migrate through the airspace.
McKenna said no to a similar request from Sen. Bob Runciman earlier this year.
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