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Nation Rise Wind Farm granted approval to continue project

A renewable energy approval was reinstated for the Nation Rise Wind Farm.

This comes after EDP Renewables, the owner of the project, asked the Ontario Supreme Court for a judicial review. Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek had revoked the project’s REA in December, citing concerns over the potential impact on big brown bats, hoary bats and little brown bats – all on the Species at Risk Ontario List.

The Nation Rise Wind Farm is largely situated in North Stormont with turbines throughout the township. The area is mainly comprised of agriculture land predominantly used for dairy farm, corn, and soybeans.

“The stoppage of activity of the project was related to what was a judicial review decision,” said Ken Little, associate director for EDP Renewables at a Nation Rise Wind Farm Community Liaison Committee on Wednesday, July 8.

The court made its ruling on May 13, effectively quashing Yurek’s decision to revoke the projects REA. In late-June, the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS), who had been the lead appellant to the project, announced it would no longer pursue a legal challenge to Nation Rise. Several days later, Yurek’s office confirmed the minister would respect the judicial court’s decision.

North Stormont Township is on record as voting twice to be a non-willing host to wind turbine developments, but at a meeting earlier this spring council defeated a call to declare North Stormont an unwilling host for a third time, essentially recognizing that despite its past opposition, there would be little value in continuing to oppose the project.

“This was related to a ministerial appeal that was brought to the original environmental review tribunal,” said Little. “The renewable energy approval was then reinstated and it allowed the project to recommence construction.”

EDP Renewables has reached a settlement with CCNS as part of its agreement to drop its legal opposition to the project. As part of the agreement, upon the operation of the project, EDP Renewables will make a one-time $50,000 donation to the St. Lawrence River Institute to support bat habitat creation and research.

In addition, EDP will contribute $150,000 to a home improvement fund to be administered by a third party committee or entity, yet to be established.

“Prior to that, when the REA was suspended and revoked, there was not an ability to continue construction activities as that permit really holds the ability for the workers to do any construction or operation,” said Little.

With the approval now re-instated, the construction work that was paused in December can resume.

The CCNS’ decision to cease legal appeals hasn’t quashed opposition to the project within the area though.