Another appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval (“REA”) for a wind turbine project has made its way to, and been refused by, the Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”).
The appeal in SR Opposition Corp v Director, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, 2015 CanLII 86926 (ON ERT) concerned the construction and operation of a Class 4 wind facility in Kawartha Lakes. The project is one of several to have been proposed and appealed in the area. A portion of the site for the proposed project is located in the Oak Ridges Moraine (“ORM”).
The group claimed the project would cause serious harm to human health through water contamination, noise and cumulative effects, harm to community health (by putting a nearby archeological site at risk), and public safety from the threat of fires (as the area in which the wind farm was to be located was serviced solely by volunteer firefighters).
The appellant also claimed the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life and the natural environment. Specifically, the appellant argued the project would cause harm to both the ORM and several species—particularly, the barn swallow, bobolink, and eastern meadowlark, which are species of birds that enjoy protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The appeal was dismissed.
Many of the arguments put forth by the appellant—particularly those aimed at establishing harm to human health—were familiar ones, and the ERT demonstrated little difficulty dismissing them. It ultimately held, as it has in the past when faced with similar circumstances, that the Appellants had not adduced sufficient evidence to establish the kind of harm pleaded.
The ERT also found that the appellants had not sufficiently established harm to the ORM or any species of birds.
This finding contrasts somewhat with the ERT’s decision in SLWP Opposition Corp v Ontario, 2015 CanLII 83848 (a blog is forthcoming on that case), which was released a few weeks prior. There, a REA appeal for a wind project located in the same area was, in part, allowed. The ERT determined that the project would result in serious and irreversible harm with respect to its impact upon a woodland located within the ORM. In that instance, neither the compensation nor mitigation measures proposed by the approval holder were sufficient to show that the removal of a portion of the woodlands would not result in serious and irreversible harm.
Other appeals of proposed wind farm projects within the ORM, on the other hand, have been rejected by the ERT.