Environmental Review Tribunal to meet July 5 & 23 in Finch as group appeals Nation Rise wind project

Some of the 10 turbines at Brinston's South Branch Wind Farm, another EDPR project, as seen in 2016. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

NORTH STORMONT — Opponents of a planned 33-turbine wind farm in North Stormont are gearing up for a scheduled appeal of the province’s go-ahead for the Nation Rise project.

Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal has slated a July 5 “pre-hearing conference” and a July 23 hearing as part of the North Stormont Concerned Citizens’ appeal of the Renewable Energy Approval granted May 5 by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, according to notices issued to residents in the vicinity of the project.

Critics have assailed the province for giving the green light on the eve of the official provincial election call.

Both Tribunal dates start 10 a.m., upstairs at the Finch Arena.

The appeal notice — a copy of which was disseminated at the latest meeting of North Stormont Council — details the opponents’ allegations that the development will cause “serious harm to human health, or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.”

Individuals wishing to participate in the July 5 pre-hearing must fill out a status request form available online.

Judicial review

The Environmental Review Tribunal appeal is just the latest judicial or quasi-judicial maneuver by the North Stormont Concerned Citizens (NSCC) group, which has been battling the project in their township for half a decade.

In January, the group joined forces in a judicial review lawsuit against the province with three other like-minded organizations — including opponents of the planned Eastern Fields Wind Power Project in The Nation Municipality and two other projects in western Ontario — on grounds old noise measurement standards have been used in the planning of five wind projects.

“We’re actually coming together for strength,” NSCC member Margaret Benke said. The involved groups have hired lawyer Eric Gillespie to represent them in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.

That case was progressing slowly, with Benke blaming it on the “delay tactics of the respondent” in a late-April conversation with Nation Valley News.

The NSCC is contributing toward legal and also supplying witnesses and affidavits to that combined effort, she said.

Also presenting a petition opposing the Nation Rise project to the premier and the legislative assembly earlier this spring — via MPP Jim McDonell — the local group hopes to offset legal costs through a crowd-funding campaign. To date, the group’s gofundme page has raised $1,505 towards a $25,000 goal.

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