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Wind turbine project to proceed after citizens, minister, choose not to appeal judge’s ruling

CORNWALL – The Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the main group opposing EDP Renewables’ Nation Rise Wind Project, has decided not to appeal the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision to reinstate the project’s Renewable Energy Approval.

“After considering all of our options, this was the best possible outcome for CCNS,” said Margaret Benke, a representative of the group. “It is not our first choice since we have challenged the project for the past five years, but it is a realistic outcome, given our circumstances and our loss at the Divisional Court. COVID-19 has certainly made it much more difficult for everyone, especially the government, to take other actions and to incur additional costs.”

The project featuring 29 wind turbines throughout the north end of North Stormont had come to a grinding halt in December, when Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek abruptly revoked the approval, citing concerns for the safety of bat colonies.

Following an April hearing initiated by EDP Renewables into the minister’s decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice reinstated the application in early May. At the time, a lawyer for CCNS said the group would appeal that decision.

According to a media release from CCNS, it has reached an agreement with the developer of the Nation Rise Wind Project. Yurek’s office also confirmed the minister would not be filing an appeal of the May court decision.

The CCNS/EDP agreement includes creation of a community-based home improvement fund, which will allow residents to apply for up to $5,000 from a $150,000 fund, established primarily for noise and visual mitigation for homeowners.

“The negotiated agreement recognizes and respects that the project as proposed will have the most stringent bat mitigation of any wind power project in Ontario,” the CCNS release said.

The agreement also provides for $50,000 to Cornwall’s St. Lawrence River Institute to fund bat-related research, and it covered CCNS legal costs.

“We have worked hard and feel that we have secured some important concessions for the environment and for the community,” Benke said.

The Ontario Divisional Court’s decision had initially resulted in an order for CCNS to pay costs of $60,000 to EDP Renwables, with Nation Rise paying $12,500 to CCNS for costs incurred when Nation Rise presented the motion to stay the minister’s decision.

Nation Rise has already started work to resume the project.