Category Archives: Environmental Review Tribunal

Accessiblility is a ‘novel’ issue to the ERT (Adelaide Preliminary Hearing)

accessibility2Adelaide Wind Project

MLWAG & Wrightman vs. Nextera & MOE Preliminary Hearing, Sept 16, Strathroy

After many twists and turns, what began 4 years ago as a fight against a faceless, uncaring foreign corporation, aided by a two-faced political and administrative elite, comes full-up against the citizens.

Briefly the issues coalesced right from the start:

A lone camcorder stood unobtrusively to the side waiting to be activated. In a panic, NextEra counsel, Mahony immediately drew ERT Chair Muldoon’s attention to it, who then asked the appellants if it was turned on. It was not— further discussion delayed until later. No microphone were present again – the audience cold not hear what was being said.

Two residents then applied for presenter status which was quickly granted. Then 5 minutes later a surprise arrived – Stephana Johnston, from Clear Creek announced that she too wished to make a presentation speaking to the faults of the appeal process. Not being able to hear from the back, she moved her walker to the front and positioned it facing Nextera rep, Ben Greenhouse and counsel Dennis Mahony. This was very noticeable.

Objections were heard from the MOE and Nextera with the MOE lawyer saying, “… I don’t see the relevance…” – ditto for the company. Again, status granted.

The issue of the venue came up. Petitions and e-mails of numerous people requesting the venue be moved to the well equipped County Council chambers in London. Why? This hearing room was in a community centre right next to a hockey rink. The room was almost at capacity with 50+ people there, no microphones, let alone equipment to video-conference – oh, when THAT happens, we move it to TORONTO, right! The patronizing never ends. Read the rest of this entry

How you can participate in Adelaide ERT appeal

Adelaide school distance to turbines smAlthough the location is still being ‘fought over’, the date for the Adelaide ERT Preliminary Hearing and the first day of the full Hearing have been set.

The dates so far are:

Preliminary Hearing: September 16 10:00am

First Day of Hearing: October 15 10:00am

(but please note – these dates can change – I will keep you informed if they do)

Please consider being a Party, Participant or Presenter at this appeal.

If you have a particular concern that relates to the appeal, a home that could be affected by flicker, a farm by stray voltage, a child who is sensitive to noise, a natural area that is threatened by the development, you have an expertise in an issue that relates to the appeal…please consider being one of the above. If you aren’t sure, talk to contact us or call the ERT and ask their opinion. The more faces the ERT panel sees, with real issues at hand, the more alive and REAL the appeal is — add your voice. It can be a very short presentation, or lengthy.

If you are at all considering this, read the notice below. If you know of anyone who may be interested- please send them the info.

Interest must be expressed by September 11 @ 4pm to the case coordinator.

Presenters and Participants are not subject to the possibility of costs being assessed, so don’t worry about that.

This appeal will tackle everything from health, to stray voltage, road safety, habitat loss etc.…the whole kit and caboodle.

There are 2 appellants: MLWAG Inc. (with Harvey named, and Eric Gillespie listed as legal counsel), and me (with well….me).

We plan to call witnesses from different parts of the world – some may come in person and others we hope to have broadcast in by videoconferencing. Attendance of the public in numbers would be very appreciated at these hearings.

Donations. We do need to raise some cash to pay for the basics though. If you can help financially, it would be greatly appreciated, and put to very good use.

Cheques can be made out to “Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group Inc.”

Mailed to:

Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group Inc.
c/oHarvey Wrightman
1503 Napperton Dr.,
Kerwood, ON N0M 2B0

Many thanks for all your support,

Esther

Appeal to ERT of Adelaide Wind Project approval

Appealwe will not be silent of NextEra project by Esther Wrightman.
Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. is also and appellant.

Rough seas for NextEra’s Bluewater and Bornish projects

DSCN2402reNews
An anti-wind group has appealed NextEra Energy Canada’s 60MW Bluewater wind project in Ontario. The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group has asked the provincial environmental review tribunal to revoke a renewable energy approval granted in April. The opposition group claims the 40-turbine wind farm will cause serious harm to human health. Preliminary hearings will be held 4 and 28 of June. A full hearing is set for 2 July.

The Ontario Energy Board is conducting a written hearing for NextEra’s application to build interconnection facilities, which include a 23-kilometer 115kV transmission line. In the meantime, the Florida-based developer has filed suit seeking to overturn new bylaws enacted by Bluewater council. Developers would have to pay C$14,000 per turbine plus a refundable security deposit totaling C$420,000 per turbine to cover decommissioning and potential health and property damages and legal fees. Another appeal is underway against NextEra’s 72.9MW Bornish proposal. The tribunal has yet to set hearing dates. Both wind farms are designed with GE 1.6-100 turbines

MLWAG appeals Bluewater NextEra Project

ertBluewater Preliminary ERT Hearing
Date: June 4
Time: 10:00am
Place: The Bluewater Stanley Complex, Community Centre, 38594B Mill Road, Varna MAP

Clinton News Record
A neighbouring anti turbine group has launched an appeal on Next Era’s Bluewater wind energy approval. The Middlesex Lambton Wind Action group filed the appeal on May 7, with the Environment Review Tribunal, stating the approved project would cause severe harm to human health and the natural environment.

Member of the group, Esther Wrightman, said they have launched similar appeals in areas around Ontario, because then, it opens the door. “In a way, it was done because of a lack of anybody else appealing it. We hate to see any wind project not challenged by someone,” she said. With several of Next Era’s projects proposed or in construction in Lambton Middlesex, including the Adelaide, Bornish and Jericho projects, the group also takes note of the proponent’s other projects. “We look at this basically as one huge project, which includes the Goshen and Bluewater projects,” she added. Read article

NextEra faces Ontario appeal on Bornish project from Municipality and individual

BornishRe News
Opponents have appealed NextEra Energy Canada’s 72.9MW Bornish wind project in southwestern Ontario. The developer last month received renewable energy approval (REA) by the Environment Ministry, as reported in reNews. The Municipality of North Middlesex and an individual have asked the Environmental Review Tribunal to revoke the REA.

The appellants claim the wind farm will cause serious harm to human health. They also allege serious and irreversible harm to plant and animal life, listing at-risk species such as the bald eagle, red-headed woodpecker and tundra swan. The tribunal has yet to set any hearing dates. Read article

Activists say MOE approval of wind project near Arkona not the end of the fight

Say NO and ProtestBy Heather Wright, Sarnia this Week
LAMBTON COUNTY – Wind activists say a transmission line hearing may be best way to stop a wind energy center north of Arkona. NextEra received approval for the Bornish Wind Energy center, a 45-turbine project just northeast of Arkona from the Ministry of the Environment recently. Esther Wrightman of Middlesex Lambton Wind Concerns has been among the people fighting the project. She’s frustrated. Wrightman saying looking at the Environmental Registry confirms her suspicion that the Ministry of the Environment simply rubber stamps wind projects. Wrightman says the registry on the Bornish project uses the name of another wind project in Eastern Ontario telling her the responses are not original.

“These are projects that are going to affect people’s lives and it seems that it’s just a matter of copy and pasting approval lines in it from one to another,” says Wrightman. “The MOE has never denied a project” she adds. “The system is broken…you don’t have a government agency that can help…you feel quite deserted at the end of the day.” Read article

Nextera Bornish wind project approved by MOE – 45 wind turbines

“If the Company determines that it must deviate from either the Environmental Effects Monitoring Plan, the Natural Heritage Assessment and Environmental Impact Study, the Natural Heritage Assessment – Addendum Report or the Natural Heritage Assessment – Addendum II Report, described in Condition K1, the Company shall contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Director, prior to making any changes to either of these documents, and follow any directions provided.

Full Bornish Wind Approval

Copy of IMG_0380

Active Eagle Nest 187m from Bornish substation, 634m & 741m from turbines.

Environmental Registry
Proponent:
Bornish Wind G.P Inc, as general partner for and on behalf of Bornish Wind L.P.
390 Bay Street, Suite 1720, Toronto Ontario Canada M5H 2Y2
Instrument Type:   Approval for a renewable energy project – EPA s.47.3(1)

A Renewable Energy Approval (REA) has been issued to Bornish Wind LP (NextEra Energy) to engage in a renewable energy project in respect of a Class 4 wind facility consisting of the construction, installation, operation, use and retiring of up to 45 turbines, rated at 1.6 MW generating output capacity, with a total name plate capacity of 72.9 MW. The wind facility will be connected to Hydro One’s distribution system.

This Class 4 wind facility, known as the Bornish Wind Energy Centre, consists of areas required for the wind facility components, as well as for the interconnection route. The wind facility will be is located in the Municipality of North Middlesex in Middlesex County.

The REA requires the proponent to construct, install, operate, use and retire the facility in accordance with specific terms and conditions.

The terms and conditions, as summarised below, require the proponent to:

  • construct and install the facility within 3 years of the date of the approval,
  • construct and install the facility in accordance with the documentation considered for the issuance of this approval,
  • receive all required permits under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 prior to construction or installation, Read the rest of this entry

Send us to the ERT? Better to send us straight to the gallows.

Copy of goderich2by Harvey Wrightman
I was at the Goderich Court on Friday to hear more legal arguments about a wind project. Shawn and Trish Drennan are opposing the “K-2” wind project, a massive 142 turbine project which will cover most of Ashfield/Colborne/Wawanosh Township. At the noon recess Shawn asked me, “How does this court hearing compare to an ERT hearing?”. Well, let’s see – the motion to strike the Drennan family’s application for an injunction on the construction of the Pattern/Samsung K-2 wind project – that sentence alone illustrates how convoluted this whole wind business has become, so horribly twisted that the Drennan’s have sought to cut through it all  with a plea for relief to the Court.

The Crown and K-2 insist that there is an overall “public interest/benefit” in constructing wind energy projects. Mr. Bredt, lawyer for K-2 also submitted that “…one wouldn’t consult with the public if one wasn’t concerned about the impacts…,” he said it with the same leery smirk that I had so often seen on the  $500/hour lawyers engaged by companies for the ERT appeals.  Remarkable! This wonderful Renewable Energy Application (REA) process was so lovingly crafted to care for and protect the “receptors” (persons).  So exceptionally nurturing is this process and so intent is the government on rigorously assessing the quality of service, that we now have the attention of 2 sets (both federal and provincial) of academic/engineering/medical professionals who will “study” subsets of the subject “receptor populations” to better define the impacts on “receptors” – on a gross, averaged level, not individual specific. In the court room I’m sitting beside a person/receptor forced to move from a house surrounded by turbines, who has heard this BS far too many times.  I’m always amazed at the ability of people affected to not give in, but to continue to resist in the way they are capable of. Rural citizens are in a battle with an administrative structure gone hay-wire. Read the rest of this entry

Wind Company & Ontario Government Appear to Make Mockery of Renewable Energy Approvals Process

sec. 12.1For Immediate Release
December 17, 2012

Toronto, Ontario – An  announcement by industrial wind developer WPD Canada, supported by the Ontario government, appears to make it clear to residents across Ontario that the regulatory process currently in place for granting and appealing wind projects is a mere “rubber stamp” formality.

WPD has announced that it will be establishing a facility to construct more than 50 industrial wind turbines. However, five of the six projects the facility is to supply have not been approved. In total, only four (4) of the fifty two (52) turbines, or less than eight percent (8%) that the facility will reportedly assemble and/or construct have been granted an approval.

Residents in these communities are deeply disturbed by what appears to be WPD’s, and in turn the Ontario Government’s, apparent willingness to publicly announce the facility long before the regulatory review process and any subsequent appeals to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal are complete. Read the rest of this entry

The Rest of My Life

by Harvey Wrightman
“Streamlining” – it is repeated over and over that the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal of Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) is “streamlined” to efficiently render solutions. The characters driving in from Toronto who dispense practical justice for the residents affected, all want to quicken the tempo of hymn we are all to sing – you know, “Whose Bread I Eat, His Song I Sing” – shouldn’t be too hard to find it in their song book – it’s the only one in it.

So, after a full Friday that went on and on to 5PM, one witness, Dr. Jim Salmon gave expert opinion evidence on the topic(s) of the models for the Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) – don’t you just love these acronyms(?!) – and the shadow flicker pattern (noted to NOT be required by the MOE). We learned the witness is both a founding and charter member of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) with a background in physics and meteorology – NOT an acoustician, therefore please reserve those questions for the next “expert(s)”. So the man can basically tell us he understands the models used, but as to whether he cares about the practical application of his work – like any other apparatchik, he never questions the effects of the noise/flicker he is modelling for – not his problem.

Dave Hyslop, one of the appellants, developed a lengthy set of questions for this witness; and, though the details of both noise and shadow flicker are technically challenging, he got across several points that were to catch the attention of the panel members who followed with some rather good questions of their own. To whit, some of the questions:

Q – My office is in the cab of my tractor or combine. When I am in the field I will experience shadow flicker. Will it affect my ability to operate?
A – I can’t answer that.

Q – The cab is like a cubicle that has glass all around. Will the effects be similar to what happens in a house?
A – I don’t have a definition for that kind of receptor. I wouldn’t consider that space to be problematic for shadow flicker. The light will pass through and not be perceived in the same way.

OK, now to clean up the BS. There is a video shot inside a greenhouse in Holland. The flicker effect can only be described as “bewildering.” A nephew of mine operates a custom service to spread liquid manure. I remember him saying that the flicker effect is quite distracting and disorienting. There is a dearth of scientific investigation on the subject. It was obvious from the shadow flicker analysis that Samsung was seeking to present as low a numerical estimate (for hours affected) as possible. In addition, they were using a model that basically was geared for the dwelling only. The effect outside is expanded immensely and the shadow does not have to actually pass though the subject. Seeing it in near distance is also distracting. It is a huge property “disamenity” and it drives people wild. Read the rest of this entry

“I See”

by Harvey Wrightman
Perhaps the biggest problem with these Environmental Review Tribunal appeal hearings is we get only the “appearance” of a fair hearing. Tuesday’s session was at the Kohler Community Centre, a WW2 Air Force barracks, well maintained by the onsite caretaker who obviously must do wonders with a limited budget – I hope that point is appreciated by the team of lawyers (some @ $500/hour) who descend on our rural communities. Wishful thinking – all we get from these people are averted looks, fake smiles and condescending remarks. Like a crew of evangelists sweeping into a new land, there is no regard let alone respect for local opinion and knowledge. Our thoughts are to be replaced with the new “green” beliefs.

The room is small and we sat directly behind the Samsung counsel, Sarah Powell and Matthew Milne-Smith (hired gun prepped and loaded for the day), sitting side-by-each to the Ministry of Environment’s Frederika Rotter and Sarah Kromkamp. A tangle of cords going to the court recorder and from there to the panel members connected them all to netbook computers so that they could scroll through all the documents, and read the transcript easily. But the lines ended there. None of the appellants had the electronic hook-ups. Why? – well it was all paid for by Samsung. They aren’t going to feed the locals/plebs. Yes, that means OUR MOE has documents that as a government ministry should freely make available to us. Another example of “loading the dice”, but no surprise as this government is deep into money addiction and casinos.

The opposing counsel were nervous – Freddy back to nail biting, repeatedly turning to the audience and faintly expressing a wolfish grin. Milne-Smith (umbrella man), sat stiffly with his shoes turned up and I couldn’t help but notice that his shoes had been resoled more than once, the last time a partial heel was applied at a very odd angular cut. I guess Matthew hangs onto his nickles!

The main witness was Scott Petrie, executive director of long point waterfowl and adjunct professor at Western – a formidable, confident expert witness, and like all such people one could see that he enjoyed the advantage of his position. Try as they might, there are so few lawyers who invariably have little in the way of a science or math background, they have a hard time questioning those who do. Someone like Scott, who has 50+ publications in scientific journals can easily sit and wait for them to come to him and then pummel them back into the corner. It really is “unfair”, but given the heavy bias that is applied to appellants, an occasional battle champion is welcome. By contrast, as Dr. Petrie noted, of the 8 consultants who worked on the “natural heritage” reports there were only 5 published works from all of them – no peer-reviewed articles. With no senior manager having a research oriented cv, the pre-construction assessments and post–construction monitoring regimes are not robust. There are many holes in the reports that simply lead one to question the assumptions. Worse, there was no request from the company for data or reports that Long Point waterfowl has on hand, and no use of locals who could also provide useful information on habitats and wildlife. Instead we learn from the survey notes of Sean Male that he was able to identify only about a dozen birds. 350 of his sitings were categorized as “unknown”. Dr. Petrie remarked, “He didn’t know birds.” One cannot expect rigour where there is no basic knowledge. Read the rest of this entry

Fisherville ERT: In the Land of All Day Breakfast

by Harvey Wrightman
Make no mistake about it, from the beginning, this has been a rural/urban issue – and I don’t say that with pleasure, nor do I believe that once the issue is properly explained, most people, no matter where they live, are reasonable and sympathetic to the plight of those condemned to live in wind projects. Sitting at the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in the Fisherville Community Centre, I look at the lawyers for the MOE/Capital Power, all seated in an orderly row, and in my boredom dream that they are there to try and comfort us – rural residents, both those in projects and the rest of us sitting on death row waiting to step into the torture chamber; or rather, the chamber comes to us – like one of those mobile x-ray trailers sent out to the hinterland. Well clearly, there is no milk of human kindness to be had here today.

The bulk of the day is taken up with arguments about the medical evidence:

  1. how much is enough
  2. who has been the foot-dragger in this hearing
  3. what to do with these “post turbine” witnesses who refuse to withdraw and indeed keep showing up at the hearings – irritating reminders of the human aspect of the “wind projects.”

This last one is clearly taking its toll on the MOE and the wind companies. Though they sit side by each at the table, they have no supporters in the audience (I have yet to see even one “lessor” attend.) They don’t even lunch together anymore. They do still confer openly with each other, but think of the “stress” they are enduring .

So, in their presentations I note that no more do they extoll the virtues of free, carbon-less wind energy. No, instead the cry is, The REA process is a STATUTORY process , “streamlined” so that the appeal decision is announced within the 6 month expiration date. Read the rest of this entry

A Lot of Loose Info

by Harvey Wrightman
You can see the “effects” of the never-ending days of  the Environmental Review Tribunal appeals taking its toll on the Ministry of Environment and the Samsung lawyers. Yesterday in Cayuga, the MOE’s Frederika “Freddy” Rotter periodically lurches her whole body in a comic swing to gaze at the audience. At other times she fiddles with her Blackberry. She furtively chews her nails. It’s like watching a kid with stimulation overload.

(left) MOE Freddy & (right) Samsung Sarah

Sarah Powell, Samsung counsel, will flip her glasses on and off, or her foot will almost enter orbit in a clonic spasm somewhere in the range of  200 Hz. On another occasion she was lifting one foot, then the other repeatedly in a trance-like movement.

Why all the worry? There’s a lot riding on this project. No one has control of it. The traditional Onkwehonwe are highlighting some serious deficiencies in the consultation process – to the point that both the MOE and Samsung state clearly that this hearing can NOT make any decisions on the consultation process. So, was that bit of admonishment for the ERT panel’s benefit? Certainly the Onkwehonwe’s Bill Monture and Lester Green were having no part of that scolding as they blew holes in the project documents submitted by the company. A modicum of real consultation with locals, especially the Onkwehonwe who know the “natural features” of the area so well, would have produced more accurate reports. Of course, like the elite mutts that seem to run all these “so-called, green energy” enterprises, they assume that local people know nothing and are merely a “nuisance” to the greater plans of the government/wind company coalition.

Mr. Samsung in the gallery

Some of the salient points made:

1)      The 800 acre solar project is centred within the wind project development area, and the substation for the wind development is to be located within the fenced in solar parcel. But, the Onkwehonwe were told by ERT chairman Robert Wright, that the wind appeal could not include anything about the solar project. It was a separate case.
Both the wind and solar were presented to 6 Nations as one project, not 2 separate projects which is why the Onkwehonwe did not appeal the solar approval. The reality for ordinary citizens is: how many appeals can one afford the time, energy and money for, especially if they occur during the same period of time?

2)       Lester Green found many discrepancies in the bird studies reports. The field survey notes for these often showed that very little field time was allotted to important species, sometimes only an hour or two of actual observation was involved. Worse were field reports with no specific logs of dates or time spent for observations. As Lester said, “loose work…as long as you word it in a correct manner, it’s OK the project can go ahead.”

  • In addition, studies were conducted at inappropriate times of the day or in the wrong season. Thus the catch-phrase, “…nothing found in the study area” is used repeatedly even in known special habitats. As Lester simply said, “…look to the hunters and plant gatherers…there are certain times to find specific life forms.”  One of the more “eye-brow-raising” examples was a survey for an amphibian, Jefferson’s salamander, which though it is terrestrial, breeds in vernal pools (so that no tadpole eating fish are present.) The survey was done in September – no sightings, no mitigation plan needed.
  • The 2009 Hatch reports do mention eagle sightings, yet strangely, Stantec surveyors didn’t see any and wrote that eagles are absent from the study area.
  • Which brings up the whole question of “the study area.” By some odd twist, it magically ends at the Grand River and somehow, and I’m not quite sure how you can ignore the River, but it is NOT considered to be a water body within 120m of the project., and neither are its numerous tributaries.
  • Both Lester and Bill pointed out the absurdity of the “migration corridors” approach provided for migrating birds. “Air space” should be considered a natural heritage feature – part of bird habitat. Instead the Samsung treatment is more like a “turbine rodeo” or “shooting gallery” of hazards for the birds to navigate.

Lester and Bill, traditional Onkwehonwe

In summing up Lester made these points:

Re: so-called expert witness testimony, “In your way, if it (testimony) doesn’t have a doctor’s certificate attached with a bunch of letters, it’s not valid…(but) all the loose information in those thick volumes (of project documents) means absolutely nothing without the consent of the people.”

On the ultimate responsibility for the care of the land: “…these turbines are your idea, but are being put on our land…” in which the Onkwehonwe have a very great and personal interest.

…And…

Without any fanfare, Lester presented copies of the petition that 165 traditional  Onkwehonwe signed. The same petition received by 6 Nations elected council in April. When asked for comment, neither Rotter nor Powell objected to the petition being submitted as “evidence”, but both of them questioned the “relevance” of the petition.

In a voice that communicated sincerity and a quiet confidence, Lester stated, “There are men and women waiting to see what is decided…There’s going to be men and women standing against this. We’re just following our laws, our ways, and our practices. You didn’t have our consent. It’s an insult. There’s no way to go back and revisit this.”

I was naive — I submitted a comment

There may be people who still believe in filing comments with the Ministry of the Environment about the wind project proposed in their area – the government might actually listen to you and take your concerns into consideration- at least that’s what they say they will do.

Do you ever wonder why the government and wind company push for you to fill out those forms at Wind Company public meetings? Why they insist you follow public process? “Submit Comments!!!”,  they seem to scream everywhere. Well, when you’ve been to the end, the Environmental Review Tribunal as an appellant, you might be witness to where all those oh-so-harmless looking ‘comments’ that you provided to your government, in good faith, go: Directly to the MOE’s evidence to use against you in any way they can. See my name below for the Zephyr appeal…. Esther.

 

Environmental Review Tribunal hearing process is dysfunctional

It is easy to offer advice after the fact. I was in that position myself and find it difficult to criticize actions taken for which no precedent existed – more than once we heard from the Environmental Review Tribunal that process would define itself as “experience” was gained.

The awarding of costs to NextEra and the MOE in Mapleton is an abuse of citizens who acted in good faith, following the “process” that was laid out. Awarding costs is nothing but bully tactics. The Ministry of Environment in particular should be ashamed at raiding its own citizens.

Community groups have put forth a serious challenge to the whole wind energy program, turning public opinion on its head outside the urban areas, and creating a great deal of  “anxiety” as Chris Bentley admitted to. The government now uses its “last recourse”-  call in the bureaucrats and direct them to ram it through. It looks like that is the strategy. Read the rest of this entry

Their story needs to be told in the time it takes to tell it.

by Harvey Wrightman
It’s been 10 months since we became involved in the Zephyr Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal where we attempted to present a case that was built on the soundest evidence of all – the testimony of those people who live in wind projects and suffer the many different and terrible maladies that these projects induce. Obviously such a case has merit. Why else would the wind companies and its shameless Ministry of Environment (MOE) collaborator/facilitators fight tooth and nail to prevent or at least nullify such testimony. They know the power of personal experience. The effect of hearing such testimony would be “cleansing.”  Having chosen immersion in the villous fluid of green, they are not ready to be cleansed. The ERT, caught in the middle of this dance, desperately wishes to appear fair to all parties. The process for presenting “lay witness” testimony seems hardly any clearer to me today than it was 10 months ago. More than once I have heard panel members of the ERT allude to the newness/novelty of the Renewable Energy Approvals as a reason to develop the rules “on the go”, yet admonish the parties (mainly appellants) that the process must be streamlined to fit into the 6 month deadline the Green Energy Act provides for an appeal decision.

Oh, really! So how does one fighting an appeal fix on a moving target.

So on Friday, Haldimand Wind Concerns (HWC) lawyer, Eric Gillespie reasonably sought an adjournment of the Samsung Haldimand hearing so that specific issues re: the “lay witness” testimony could be finally settled.

The outstanding issues centre around:

  1. The MOE and Samsung’s demand for “relevant” (read 10 years worth) medical files for all witnesses.
  2. Relevancy issues concerning a curious set of 176 “interrogatories” – rather intrusive questions that each lay-witness is to complete and hand in.
  3. The “interrogatories” raise serious issues of confidentiality; but MOE lawyer, Frederika Rotter, affectionately known as Freddy, dismisses those concerns because she considers anyone so emboldened as to testify before ERT and herself as being an “advocate” and therefore not entitled to any sort of confidentiality privilege. Read the rest of this entry

The Imaginary Waltz of Umbrella Man and the Mannequin

“In these, the dying days of Babylon…” –  Utah Philips  

by Harvey Wrightman
That’s how it felt in the Kinsnmen Hall Cayuga, sitting at the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal of the Samsung wind project. About thirty residents came to watch the pitiful charade that the ERT appeals process has become.  The change in tone at these hearings mirrors what has happened in the more recent kindergarten, story board wind company “open houses” –  they are much grimmer and  have a “get-it-over-with” feeling, the windies know that Big Brother will bring in the muscle to force this down the throats of rural Ontario.

You see it in the way Ministry of Environment lawyer Freddy refers to the post-turbine witnesses. If you thought that the MOE’s  term “receptors” was bad, how would you like “so-called witnesses”. That she gets away with such degrading language speaks to the atmosphere in the room –  the arrogant superiority. From the podium she turned to the audience  to instruct that the 6-month time-table is sacrosanct,  “…while we may not like it, we have to live with it.” She may as well have said, “Shove it.”

And, without any hint of irony, Freddy took us into a lecture about providing a “…fair, open and accessible process for all parties…” What a hoot!

It was pleasant to hear the rain on the roof, as it did lessen the irritating noise coming from Freddy who bobbed from left to right, turning her whole body, like a mannequin. Read the rest of this entry

Hagersville Hearing- May 4th (Part 2)

by Harvey Wrightman
It was a relief to have Eric Gillespie take the floor – Ms. Harris, the MOE layer, dressed-down in a smock and designer jeans, acted more like a student presenting a paper that needed more polish and irritated by the master’s remarks.

With Eric, we were back to analysis and logic.

He pointed out that it’s rather premature to consider dismissal of this action when there has only been one decision, Kent Breeze, which did establish the concept that wind turbines can cause serious health effects. He went on to say that even Dr. Leventhall has accepted all the symptoms of WTS (Wind Turbine Syndrome) as stated by Dr. Pierpont. The argument now is only how much separation between man and machine is required and what percentage of the population may be affected – somewhere in a range of 5% – 30%. The current state of scientific investigation does not specify what causes the malady; but, we know noise, EMF, light flicker are involved. The evidence that has been presented is as much as science allows, so far.

However, one can say that irrespective of:

1) the make or model of wind turbine
2) the number of wind turbines in a project
3) the type of receptor; i.e., whether young or old, educated or not, whatever the occupation
4) whether the topography is flat or rolling

…you still see the “effects” that Dr. Leventhall happily accepts as caused by Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT’s). Read the rest of this entry

Haldimand Appeal – May 4th

By Harvey Wrightman
Driving down-country on the Norwich Road, I was reminded of the beauty of this part of Ontario which still retains a significant forest – very lovely and one could easily imagine a life here; but, then I had a vision of the parasitic wind reps who probably were on the same road, driving some generic white/black SUV with blacked-out windows. They are thick everywhere, and hadn’t I just heard that there were 30 of them bivouacked in the Forest Sands Hotel. The wind companies need a lot of these thugs.

I soon arrived in Haggersville, the site of the ERT appeal into the Summerhaven Wind project owned by FPL – sorry, they don’t like the name of the corporate sire (Florida Power and Light) – so it’s NextEra.  A name so much more contemporary and less “industrial”.

TCI, the Irish company (I wonder if ever they will actually build a project), signed all the leaseholders to the original contracts, then sold them out to NextEra. Irish BS goes further than anything the dour reps of NextEra with their pinched faces could ever manage.

The venue for the hearing is an older community centre, a smallish room with a parquet dance floor and simple, functional furniture. The mercury lights are right out of a hockey arena, casting a blue/green synthetic glow and humming so much that it was at times, difficult to hear. But we all made the best of it and a goodly number of locals were in attendance. I have some new friends now.

Since it wasn’t all cushy and proper like the county council chambers in Chatham, the audience acted more like they were at a card party, but a relatively quiet one. The topic was an important one: MOE motions to dismiss both the Haldimand Wind Concerns appeal AND the appeal of Bill Monture, a Mohawk living a traditional life, not aligned with the elected council or the HDI. The MOE lawyer, Ms. Harris, showed lots of gumption, but I’d have to say she had quite a lot on her platter for the day, as you will see. Read the rest of this entry

Zephyr Wind project to move ahead

By Heather Wright — Sarnia Lambton This Week

WATFORD – The battle over the Zephyr Wind project near Watford is over.

The group appealing the four industrial wind turbines has withdrawn its appeal of the project.

The Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern group launched the appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal of project between Churchill Line and LaSalle Road. It was prepared to start the hearing at the Brooke Alvinston Community Center but withdrew the appeal after a legal pre-hearing setback.

Eric Gillespie, the lawyer representing the group, says the tribunal asked for medical history from the witnesses who would testify to being affected by the turbines, something Gillespie was willing to do. He says the tribunal wanted to see the records of 23 witnesses who were to testify of the health affects of wind turbines. And it wanted the records for the last ten years.

But he says compiling the information would take time. Gillespie asked for an adjournment, but the tribunal gave him six days to come up with the information.

“That’s just not doable,” says Esther Wrightman, one of the people who started the appeal. Read the rest of this entry

Brooke-Alvinston wind farm appeal withdrawn

 By PAUL MORDEN The Observer

Wind farm opponents have withdrawn their appeal of Ontario’s approval of a four-turbine Zephyr Farms project near Watford.

Several weeks of hearings were scheduled to begin next week in Alvinston.

Esther Wrightman, with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, said it made the decision to withdraw its appeal Thursday following a recent pre-hearing decision by the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal.

That came after the Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment submitted “about 170 questions” about medical, real estate and other records the government wanted answered by 23 witnesses the wind group planned to call at the hearings.

Wrightman said the tribunal ruled, just six days before the start of the hearings, that it wanted to see the information the ministry requested.

“It’s like being tripped on the last lap of your race,” Wrightman said.

Gathering and compiling all of the information being sought before the hearing date wasn’t possible, Wrightman said.

“As much as we’d like to, it would have been a shoddy job,” she said. “You have to do it right.”

Going ahead with the hearings, in light of what the tribunal said, wouldn’t have been fair to the group’s witnesses, Wrightman said.

They included people living in communities around Ontario where wind farms are already up and operating.

A lack of clear rules at the tribunal make it a challenge for group’s filing appeals, Wrightman said.

“They’re not specific in the way they run it and they clearly say when you’re there, “Well, you know what, we’re just learning as we go here.’”

But, Wrightman said the lessons learned this time can be used by the group’s lawyer, and other wind opponents, in future appeals of other wind energy projects.

“At least we have a clearer vision of what they want to see,” she said.

If the tribunal rules a renewable energy project will cause serious harm to human health, or the environment, it can revoke or alter the approval given by the province. Read the rest of this entry

Zephyr ERT withdrawn – Will continue with Mapleton ERT once evidence is collected

Important Message from Harvey Wrightman:  The upcoming ERT hearing (Zephyr Wind project) is focused on residents from all over Ontario who have been experiencing the negative effects of living in close quarters with large, powerful wind turbines. It is important to know what kind of evidence we would need at the hearing.  Wednesday, February 29, the ERT released a decision that has been very helpful for understanding what appellants need to bring before the Tribunal in order to be successful.

1) The Tribunal confirmed that the testimony of residents is important and will be accepted.

2) The Tribunal has indicated that certain additional documentation will assist them in making their decision. It is much better to have a clear directive from the Tribunal before the hearing rather than at, or after the full hearing has taken place.

It is clear that it will not be possible to obtain and organize documents for witnesses prior to the start date of the Zephyr appeal, which is currently scheduled for March 7th. While we have an impressive staff, they cannot perform a Biblical miracle – i.e., produce in 6 days all the 23 witnesses’ medical records for the past 10 years.

As a result, after consulting with the research team and counsel, the appellant, Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. has decided to withdraw the current Zephyr appeal. This was done Thursday morning.

The case for wind turbine victims is not finished, only suspended for the moment. SW Ontario has been the most heavily targeted area and so this is likely where the battle will be fought. It is important that we put forward the best case possible. We are very fortunate that people who have suffered from living in wind projects are now volunteering to testify in court. This they are doing this for us. There are volunteer researchers who work behind the scenes for no glory and no pay, again, for us. The same can be said for the many “experts” who donate their time and assessment skills. The MOE and the wind companies have no volunteers. They cannot buy what our volunteers provide.

There are base costs that we must assume, and since everyone benefits from the case being developed, we all own it. It’s not just about Alvinston or Mapleton or Highgate, It’s about every place in Ontario, and beyond. Together we can push forward this action. The relevant information will be collected and the victims of wind projects will have their day to speak, and be heard.

I urge everyone to support the Mapleton appeal for that is the most likely place for us to make our case. We will return.

Harvey Wrightman, Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group

Introducing T.O. to the Brooke-Alvinston wind turbines

Watford Guide-Advocate

Dear Editor,

The upcoming Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal hearing into the Zephyr wind project  in Brooke/Alvinston will have testimony from 2 well qualified acoustical experts, Dr. Robert Thorne, an environmental noise consultant to the NZ  Ministry of Health, and Steve Ambrose, P.Eng. and a member of  the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE).

While the expert testimony provides the scientific basis to challenge the current MOE siting rules, it can only describe the human effects in a very cold, impersonal way. To the Ministry of Environment (MOE), residents are not “humans”, they are “receptors.” Our houses are called “receptor locations”.  Setback distances are measured to the centre of the receptor location.  Excess noise  can intrude and take over most of your property as long as the centre of the house is “safe”. You no longer have a house and property; you  are left with a “bunker.” If you sign any sort of agreement with the wind company, you waive all rights to even these inadequate standards. The farmer who signs a wind lease is no longer a farmer; he is now a landlord with one very nasty tenant who dictates all the rules for 50 years. These are the things that expert testimony cannot describe; but, ordinary people can.

So, in this hearing for the first time, residents who live  in wind projects will provide the gritty details that models, maps, and calculations cannot display. They will tell what it’s like from a personal perspective to live with these machines day and night. They will tell what it feels like to be caught in these wind ghettos – the constant thumping noise, the sleep disturbance, the hopelessness of being trapped and unable to even sell a property they wish to escape – their own homes.  Experts cannot give this kind of testimony. The wind companies deny the problems, dismiss and belittle the people affected. The government ignores their plight and facillitates whatever the wind companies want.  Now, for the first time these residents/witnesses will be heard, all 25 of them – and there are many more willing to testify. Think about it. Why are these people testifying? They already live in wind projects; what gain is there for themselves? Would you put yourself out in public to be scrutinized?  Read the rest of this entry

Tribunal Hearing To Proceed

February 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Blackburn News

A motion to dismiss an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing against the developer of a four-turbine wind farm in Brooke-Alvinston has been denied.  The tribunal will hear from the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group beginning in March.  The province’s Environment Ministry had been trying to get the hearing thrown out, claiming the appellant’s arguments are repeats of what has been heard in passed hearings.  The Wind Action Group’s Esther Wrightman says it’s important hearings be held on a case-by-case basis.

Wrightman says the Wind Action Group has 25 witnesses, including two experts lined up to speak at the hearing.  The 10-session hearing begins March 7th at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre, with two days of video-conference scheduled for Toronto.

See Motion to Dismiss Denied

Note: Change in Zephyr Wind Appeal ERT Dates

FYI: Dates have been moved back a tad for the Zephyr (Brooke-Alvisnton) Wind Appeal:

Environmental Review Tribunal

March 7, 8, 9, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 in Alvinston

Alvinston Location: Brooke-Alvinston Township Office MAP

March 19 & 20 in Toronto (video-conference link)

Toronto Location: Hearing Room 2, 16th Floor, ELTO, 655 Bay St., Suite 1500, MAP

ERT Motion to Scope Evidence Dismissed- yea!

Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. v. Director, Ministry of the Environment
Environmental Review Tribunal panel has issued its decision on the Green Breeze’s motion to limit the evidence:- “Motion to Scope Evidence Dismissed“. This means that evidence need only meet the test of relevancy, and not be limited to what comments were submitted to the EBR.  This is a significant victory and means future appellants will not be so severely restricted.

Decision on Watford wind farm expected soon

By PAUL MORDEN, The Observer Jan 12 2012

The fate of the Ontario Environment Ministry’s latest attempt to scuttle a challenge of its approval of a Brooke-Alvinston Township wind farm project could be known soon.

Following a Jan. 6 hearing in Toronto, Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal reserved its decision on the province’s motion to dismiss the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group’s appeal of the provincial approval of the four-turbine Zephyr Farms wind project under construction near Watford.

“They have now indicated that they hope to get a decision released sometime next week,” said Eric Gillespie, a lawyer for the wind action group.

The ministry’s first motion to dismiss the appeal was denied by the tribunal in December.

Gillespie said he and the wind action group have provided additional information to the tribunal since then.

“Given that the first motion did not succeed,” he added, “logically, the second cannot succeed.” Read the rest of this entry

Wind turbine study timing curious

by J. Morris, Ingersoll Times
The Ontario government’s December 16 press release relates to a report commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment and written by HGC, an engineering firm. The timing of this press release is curious, as it appears the same report was in draft form in August 2010 then submitted as a Final Draft December 2010 by the MOE as evidence during the Environmental Review Tribunal and finally to the public in August 2011. Why would it suddenly warrant a press release in December 2011? Could it be an attempt to divert attention from the upcoming appeal hearing in the Watford area for the Zephyr wind project?

Statements about ‘no direct health effects’ are a red herring, because it is acknowledged by international experts (including experts called upon by the MOE and wind energy proponents) that wind turbines cause adverse health effects via the ‘indirect’ pathway. Even Mr. Howe (of HGC) acknowledged under oath at the 2011 Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) that indirect effects are still ‘something that can occur’.

The press release raises a number of questions:

– When it comes to health, why is the government commissioning reports and relying on information generated by an engineering firm, who is a member of the Canadian Wind Energy Association?

– Why are desk top literature reviews still the government’s method of choice to address concerns rather than properly designed independent field epidemiology studies performed by qualified epidemiology experts?

– Why was the press release issued now, when the referenced report was compiled in 2010?

The press release and report unfortunately do no justice to the families who have already been impacted and displace from their homes at projects throughout the province due to adverse health effects.

It is important to reiterate that, after weeks of testimony from experts around the world in 2011, the Environmental Review Tribunal for the Kent Breezes project concluded:

“This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the tribunal demonstrated that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”

J. Morris, Woodstock

Watford turbines under review

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to wind turbines say environmentalists

By Heather Wright  Sarnia & Lambton County This Week —  Dec 26, 2011 

WATFORD – The health effects of four wind turbines just outside of Watford will be under scrutiny at an Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in January.

The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group filed the appeal after provincial government approved Green Breeze Energy’s four turbine 10 megawatt project worth about $22 million.

WAG’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, says this is only the second time a project has been reviewed since the provincial government changed the Green Energy Act to allow appeals for “serious harm to human health.”

The hearing moved ahead Dec. 22, after the tribunal dismissed a motion from the Ministry of the Environment to call off the hearing. Lawyers suggested WAG didn’t provide enough information. The tribunal decided there was enough information to go ahead.

Gillespie says the main focus of the hearing will be the “numerous indirect health effects associated with wind turbines such as sleep disturbance, vertigo, nausea, headaches.”

There are many industrial wind farm projects about to begin in Lambton County, some with dozens of turbines. Gillespie expects the size of the Zephyr project will be brought up. But he says studies in the US have show the number of turbines in a neighbourhood is not a contributing factor to the problems.

“It doesn’t really seem to matter whether the project is two or three or maybe four turbines or a much large projects,” says Gillespie. “The effects of people living in close proximity seem to be the same no matter what the size of the project.

“A project down in Maine …in a place they were finding people feeling the effects more than 6,000 meters away from just three turbines.”

Gillespie says the tribunal has already recognized the problems associated with wind turbines but he says it may take many more rulings to convince the government to change distance restrictions on the projects.

“Whether it’s four turbines or forty turbines you are going to continue to see people raise concerns,” says Gillespie.