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Council believes turbine approval appeal too difficult to have any chance of success

The municipality will not appeal the Renewable Energy Approval for Gilead Power’s nine industrial turbines at Ostrander Point.

Council, in a special closed session meeting Wednesday, heard legal advice from the County solicitor on appealing the Ministry of Environment decision announced Dec. 20.

“We’ve taken a very good look at the appeal process and the requirements of the appeal,” said Mayor Peter Mertens. “The requirement for the burden of proof is on the applicant and they’ve set the bar so high that it’s impossible to meet that burden of proof in the short period of time that they allow. It’s difficult for us to engage in this appeal in a way that would have any chance of success.”

The appeal is limited to two specific grounds — “that engaging in the project will cause (a) serious harm to human health or (b) serious an irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment”.  A 15-day time period allotted for appeals runs out Jan. 4.

Council based its decision on several factors, including the limited grounds of appeal. Council was also told results of three previous appeals indicate any person or body wishing to appeal an REA must have its technical and scientific evidence presented by qualified experts marshaled and ready to be presented from the moment the appeal is filed. There have been no expert studies or peer reviews undertaken by, or on behalf of the County, with respect to any of the applicant’s technical reports.

The County’s solicitor reported that during a previous appeal of an REA, the Tribunal heard extensive evidence from leading experts from around the world with respect to the effects of wind turbines and determined “the evidence marshaled by the appellants was exploratory in nature, not confirmatory. The legal test imposed a standard that required more than exploratory evidence. The legal test required proof of harm, which was not satisifed where the applicable scientific evidence was in such an early stage of development.”

Prior to the meeting, council heard from delegations from the audience.

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) officially informed council it will be appealing to the Environmental Review Tribunal and that the group has launched an appeal for funds from the community.  Council will to look at the basis of the Field Naturalists’ appeal and consider supporting the group.

“Our appeal will be on the grounds of serious and irreversible harm to plants, animals and the environment,” said Myrna Wood, PECFN vice-president.  “No matter what we think about turbines in general … this is the wrong place for this project,” said Wood. “The construction of the Gilead project will destroy two-thirds of the sites’ wildlife and habitat. It will be in place for 25 to 50 years threatening the lives of birds and bats migrating through spring and fall and permanently displacing the species that breed at Ostrander Point.”

The PECFN believes it will need to raise $125,000.

Retired lawyer Garth Manning, chairman of the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE) recommended council consider the costs involved with an appeal being weighed with contributing to legal costs of the Field Naturalists’ “who already have shown the necessary courage and dedication and who can command the necessary specialist evidence.”

He also asked council to consider brining an application in the courts for an injunction restraining Gilead and the province from proceeding, noting two similar actions have been launched in other parts of Ontario.

“Ostrander Point is an Important Bird Area. No civilized first world country permists turbines in IBAs. Ontario’s own environmental commissioner has made the same recommendation. There are 86 turbines on Wolfe Island and many planned for Amherst Island. Add the nine at  Ostrander Point and between them all, you have the potential destruction of the larges migration path in Ontario, established since time immemorial.”

He noted Gilead’s is the first of what is approaching 100 turbines proposed for the County, “to which add Wolfe and Amherst ilsands and hundreds more if the offshore moratorium is lifted.”

Jason Alford, a Sophiasburgh resident and community liaison for developer WPD, told council that if the issue is taken to the Environmental Review Tribunal, “it will most likely be dismissed, as have all previous wind development appeals. The lack of evidence will show that the claims of the anit-wind coalition to be baseless. The cost to launch this appeal will likely be significant but it could be worth it to prove that, despite the rhetoric, there is no scientific or environmental reason to delay this project.”

Alford believes the Gilead project will be successful.

“So, time has come to, as they say. ‘Put up or shut up,’” said Alford. “You must now all decide whether it is better to upset a few anti-wind people or to upset the majority of county residents by wasting their money on a pointless and flawed ERT appeal.”

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  1. Jason Alford says:

    Pete Johnson,

    In fact, wpd has had an employee in PEC for quite some time. He is a resident of South Marysburgh, and the person who negotiated with the land owners and secured the land lease agreements.

    Also, I did not intend to imply that I was being paid an unfair amount for my services. Compared with other employment opportunities in PEC it is quite good. There was no negotiating or low-balling involved. They made an offer and I accepted it. This is a part time position, so it works well in conjunction with my other employment and does not represent a reduction of income.

    It had been suggested by others that I had somehow been bought by the wind industry and that personal gain was my only interest. If you ever see me pack up and move to Alberta to provide my services in the tar-sands then you will know that I have sold out my morals for money.

    Until then, rest assured that I am keeping ahead of the bills, serving a cause in which I believe, and getting along on my current incomes.

    Thank you for your concern.

    Jason Alford.

  2. Marnie says:

    Aw, c’mon guys. Don’t be so tough on Jason. He took a huge pay cut and made a tremendous sacrifice to take that new job. How many people would give up what must have been a fabulous income to take such a poor-paying job? What a trooper! Let’s hope it all works out for him. Methinks Jason knows all about wind and is downright full of it.

  3. Pete Johnson says:

    Jason,
    i think you must be the first and only local employee of WPD. Since local employment is one of the supposed benifical outcomes of IWTs, I am curious to know how much you are being paid. I am concerned. Not many os us could survive at 1/3 their usual income. Are you OK for cash? When you consider how huge and profitable WPD is, it is shameful that they should be lowballing a local liason guy by forcing him to take such a dramatic income cut. Is this a part time position? Will you also be counting dead birds for WPD? Are there others like you? I think it is fair that we should know how the much anticipated employment opportunities are panning out for our community.

  4. Chris Keen says:

    “I agreed to accept this position with wpd at about 1/3 of my usual rate of income.”

    This reminds me of the Churchill quote:

    “Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”

    Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course… ”

    Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”

    Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”

    Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”

  5. Mark says:

    Quite frankly I am pleased that Mr.Alford was offered and accepted the position of community liason.He is the perfect candidate to expand the grass roots efforts to stop this nonsense. He can isolate the foreign subsidized wind companies like none other.

  6. Jo Anne Slaven says:

    “It is not practical for me to relocate to SM at this time.”

    Translation: Property values in SM are going to tank, and if I’m going to buy something down there I should wait until I can pick up a nice place for a pittance.

  7. David Norman says:

    @ Jason Alford… “I do agree with the quote that you posted by Albert Bandura. I wonder if he would apply that very quote to the decimation being caused in the northern regions of his native Alberta.”… he most certainly would as do I!

    “As for my alleged “claims of impartiality and virtue”, I don’t believe that I claimed either.”… you did not claim either but you most certainly expressed both!

    “Virtue depends somewhat upon personal beliefs, and is more difficult to attack or defend in an absolute manner.”… in this case virtue will be determined by the merits of your ideologue based claims which I will challenge at every opportunity!

    “I am doing what I am doing because I believe in what I am doing is more right than it is wrong.””it was my turn to ‘Put up or shut up’. I could either stand for my beliefs or leave the arena”… this is a lofty piece of “moral high ground” you’ve placed yourself upon. I’m sure the wind blows stronger up there… careful you don’t blow off!

  8. Marnie says:

    Too bad you didn’t leave the arena Jason. Interesting that those neighbouring farmers of yours who thought they had a shot at getting windmills on their property were so disappointed when it didn’t happen. Some of them shared your passion for these monstrosities and wrote letters to the editor about the wonders of wind. When they found out their land was not going to be leased, they lost interest in a hurry.

  9. Jason Alford says:

    Lo Anne and Louise,

    Thank you for the invitation to relocate to South Marysburgh. You are correct in your observation that as a resident of Sophiasburgh, I will be geographically disassociated from the construction and operation of the proposed wind farms. For me this is unfortunate. I was a strong supporter of the Sky Power project proposed for Sophiasburgh. While I was not asked to host a turbine on my property, several of the neighbouring farms were involved. There would have been 6 turbines within about a mile of my house. Some would have been much closer. I was truly looking forward to observing the spectacle of construction and being witness to the operation of these amazing machines. The location would have been ideal. Much wind, away from the dense bird areas and out of the tourist region. Alas, we were too close to the DND radars in Trenton.
    Unfortunately I must decline your invitation for now. It is not practical for me to relocate to SM at this time.

    Jason Alford

  10. Jason Alford says:

    David Norman,

    Thank you for your comments. I do agree with the quote that you posted by Albert Bandura. I wonder if he would apply that very quote to the decimation being caused in the northern regions of his native Alberta.

    As for my alleged “claims of impartiality and virtue”, I don’t believe that I claimed either. As an admitted long time supporter of wind power, it would be ridiculous for me to now claim impartiality. Virtue depends somewhat upon personal beliefs, and is more difficult to attack or defend in an absolute manner. I am doing what I am doing because I believe in what I am doing is more right than it is wrong. Monetary motivation seems less likely if you consider that fact that I agreed to accept this position with wpd at about 1/3 of my usual rate of income, but the offer was made and it was my turn to “Put up or shut up.” I could either stand for my beliefs or leave the arena.

    Jason Alford

  11. Chris Keen says:

    Well … McShifty was right! “Green energy” has created one job!

    Unfortunately, having already peed in the pool, Alford is going to find laising with the community somewhat difficult.

    There can be no reconcilliation of the differences between wpd (or Gilead) and those of us who live in South Marysburgh short of the cancellation of ALL IWT projects.

  12. Louise says:

    Jason, Joanne has a good idea. You should live in SM and get the real feel of what the turbines will do down there.

  13. Jo Anne Slaven says:

    Jason, I believe I read earlier that you live in Sophiasburgh. Don’t you think you’d have more credibility if you moved to South Marysburgh? There’s lots and lots of houses for sale down here for you to choose from! And cheap, too!

  14. David Norman says:

    Jason Alford… clever disclaimer. Let’s do some community liaisoning, shall we? “put up or shut up”… with that attitude your the epitome of WPD material. Typical of CSG prodigy it’s apparent you feel some of us are easily duped by your claims of impartiality and virtue. After all, never would I have suspected that the arrogance and misrepresentation expressed to the majority of the community who do not want Industrial Wind Turbines in the County, would be translated into any connivance on your part. Whenever I encounter folk of your ilk, besides immediately checking for my wallet, I recall the words of a one of the most cited authors in Psychology, Albert Bandura who stated “What money does, is allow us to disengage from the moral and social effects of our decisions. As long as we can frame everything as an economic argument, we don’t have to confront the social or moral consequences of our decisions. That economics has become such a dominant, if not the prevalent, mindset for evaluating social and political choices has been one of the defining characteristics of our age.”

  15. Louise says:

    Jason Alford–what a wonderful job you have accepted
    best of luck–you will need it

  16. Gary Mooney says:

    Mark, as I’m sure you know, turbine fires normally occur in the nacelle, which is at least 80 metres off the ground. It’s true that the County doesn’t have equipment to fight fires at this height. Gilead isn’t willing to supply such equipment and MOE doesn’t require them to do so.

    However, after extensive negotiations with the County, Gilead has agreed to supply up to 6 portable fire monitoring stations (PFMS) for use by our firefighters. They are to be used while monitoring the fire until it burns itself out.

    Here is a link that shows the specified PFMS model: http://tinyurl.com/a8jhfwe .

    As their contribution to the County’s economy, Gilead has also agreed to purchase the six PFMS units through the Picton Canadian Tire store.

    In a disappointing conclusion to negotiations, Gilead insisted on keeping the Canadian Tire money themselves.

  17. Jason Alford says:

    It seems that my comments at the January 2nd meeting of Council have caused some reactionary protest on this site. I don’t know if those who are commenting attended the meeting, or are relying on the abbreviate reporting of this article, but perhaps some clarification and additional information would be appropriate.

    If my understanding of the approval process in accurate, this was the last legal opportunity for Council to oppose the approval of the Osterander Point Wind Project. With my comments directed to the Mayor and Council, it really was time to “Put up or shut up.” If they felt that they had grounds on which to appeal then they should have done so. By choosing not to appeal, any future complaints to provincial authorities can simple be answered with “You should have filed an appeal when you had the chance.” As individuals or a group, the public are still free to protest the approval by whatever legal means they see as appropriate.

    If Council truly felt that they had majority support, they could have, despite the apparent recommendations of their legal council, filed the appeal. They probably would have lost, but they would have gone down swinging. However, they obviously felt that such an expense would not be supported by the majority of PEC residents.

    Neither my presentation, nor the meeting, were to debate the merits of wind power, only to discuss the wisdom of an ERT appeal. I have lived in PEC for over three decades and have paid my property taxes. Like you, I have the right to voice my opinion to Council if I don’t agree on how those moneys are being allocated.

    As for my association with wpd and the County Sustainability Group (CSG), although it has appeared likely for several weeks that I would be receiving a position with wpd, I was only offered the contract yesterday (Friday, the 4th). For me to announce before that time that I was associated with wpd would have been false. While awaiting the decision of Council on the 2nd, I was asked by the reporters about my associations and disclosed to them that I was expecting to be offered the task of Community Liaison Representative by wpd and that, once finalized, I would make a presentation to Council to announce my association. The presentation that I made on Wednesday was as a private citizen and wpd did not review or approve my remarks. I have been a member of CSG for several years. CSG does not, and has not, received financial support or decision making input from companies or individual in the wind or solar industries. Therefore, when I entered into discussions with wpd, it was agreed that I would suspend my membership with CSG and I would no longer provide financial support or participate in decision making discussions.

    In my position with wpd, I will be available to meet with Council, federal and provincial politicians, the press, members of the community and citizen groups, both supporters and opponents, to discuss matters relating to wind power and wpd’s White Pines Wind Project.

    Jason Alford, Community Liaison Representative, wpd Canada
    jason@wpd-canada.ca

  18. Mark says:

    One strategy that needs to be deployed is delaying tactics. Move slowly, put any permit applications at the bottom of the pile, take considerable time in responding etc. Delay and delay. It’s the kind of tactic that our provincial government is well versed in. It’s a dose of their own medicine per say. It is very likely this government in hiding will fall in the spring and hopefully a new government will stop this foolishness and destruction of the Countys environment,health, infrastructure and property values.
    The other serious issue in all of this is the risk of turbine fires. Well documented on many internet sites. Prince Edward does not have the equipment to deal with this type of fire. Can you imagine the south shore catching fire in the drought of July.

  19. Chris Keen says:

    The evidence keeps mounting.

    “Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.”

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8807761/wind-farms-vs-wildlife/

  20. Whew, Gary. We thought for sure that you had left us for the “folding green”!

  21. Gary Mooney says:

    Of course, my message of January 3, 2:54 pm should read:

    “As one who is working hard to keep wind turbines OUT OF the County..”

  22. Marnie says:

    The county has never had any problem with throwing our money away before. Maybe they should have gone for the appeal even if it was going to cost megabucks. As a taxpayer opposed to windmills I would rather see them spend it on something like this than on a few of their past fiascos.

  23. Mark says:

    I know that the Mayor doesn’t support wind turbines. We know the majority of citizens do not either.But what is the Mayor and Council doing? We need some form of action from our municipal leaders.Waiting for a dialogue doesn’t cut it and hasn’t for over a year. If there is a plan then communicate it to the residents. If there is no plan and you are submissive, declare that. Tell us truthfully what Council is doing!

  24. Lori Cairns says:

    Well, if you say that Mayor Mertens is doing more than it appears, then I’ll take your word for that.

    Now it is up to us to “put up” the ultimate fight. “Shut up” appears only in wpd’s dictionary.

  25. Kimberley Ryan says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the people of PEC. I cannot believe that the will of the people is not being heard and acted upon by local, provincial or federal governments. Nor any recognition of the historical significance of PEC. Shameful.

  26. David Norman says:

    What puny plebes like Alford and his County Sustainability Group compatriots do not realize is that there is a much larger debate emerging over idiotic “Climate Change” mitigation strategies like solar and Industrial Wind Turbines. I have returned to academia to engage a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies and have already witnessed a major and growing backlash in the scientific community among them. This was inevitable given the obvious political and corporate corruption of scientific research in this respect. There are already careers at stake and many have expressed regret and dismay for not having spoke up and protested this development earlier. There is much controversy to come in this respect and must needs be if the scientific community engaged in this research is to maintain any notion of integrity, and ultimately, trust.

  27. Garth Manning says:

    I was and spoke at the public portion of the Council meeting. To answer Mark, no Councillor declared a conflict of interest when specifically asked early in the agenda.If Jason Alford is inded a “community liaison for developer wpd” then he is conflicted and his peculiar views not worth a cent. County Steve and Gary Mooney have it right -Mayor Mertens is well known as an opponent of wind in the County. The cautious advice no doubt given by the County’s lawyer in camera left Council unfortunately with little choice with public money involved. Pity, when what is required is vision, not caution, with so much involved for the County’s future well-being.

  28. County Steve says:

    I have to go with Gary on this one. We are all helpless victims … Mertens as well.

    I’ve fought many a battle, and many a losing battle, and it should come as no surprise that the ‘wise’ path is to avoid pitting Council money against Provincial money. We know who has the bigger pot, and the most clout.

    As Cheryl says, the Field Naturalists are the right body to carry the flag. Sadly, a plea for the ‘right thing to do’ falls under ’emotional arguments’ and, in my experience, such arguments have been largely ignored by the municipalities, the prov and the feds.

    I’ve written (and ghost-written) quite a few presentations to all three levels, and the strongest point is always: “If you continue, this will cost you money.” That’s where these guys live. Their groins and money belts are connected by an umbilical cord.

    Again, sadly, we already know the billions of dollars already extended – and more committed to – so this approach isn’t exactly a hidden Ace in the deck. There’s lots more provincial money left to be blown.

    I fear the final battles won’t take place in the courts … they’ll take place on the ground, right here in the County. What poor arrogant Jason doesn’t understand is that ‘Put Up’ and ‘Shut Up’ are far from the only choices on the table.

    If he knew the County, and gave a damn about our land and our communities, he would know that.

  29. Gary Mooney says:

    We only need one ERT appeal, as long as the lawyer is experienced and the action is well-financed.

    Council has previously endorsed the position of the PEC Field Naturalists, and I would hope that County government will help finance their appeal now.

  30. Doris Lane says:

    Who is the counsel for the County? They are only there to give advice which the council has to decide what they wish to do with
    It is always easy to take the easy way out and do nothing
    Time the council bit the bullet and did something useful.
    The ostrander point decision will have a huge impact on all areas of the province. We have a chance to make a difference. Come on PEC and let your voice be heard,

  31. Gary Mooney says:

    As one who is working hard to keep wind turbines in the County, and one who knows Mayor Mertens personally, I can say that he has been one of the strongest opponents of large-scale, uncontrolled wind energy development here.

    He made this very clear when he participated in a panel at the FIT Forum in Toronto last spring. He told the whole wind industry that the County does not want wind turbines.

    Following the late December decision by MOE to approve the Ostrander Point project, Mayor Mertens was the prime mover behind the idea of appealing the Ostrander Point approval to an Environmental Review Tribunal. But the County’s legal counsel recommended against appealing the decision, and Council voted to run with this advice.

    Mayor Mertens is not part of the problem; he is part of the solution.

  32. Sue3 says:

    Just to add to Garth Manning’s comments, Gilead is planning a wind farm in Adolphustown-Fredericksburgh (referred to as ‘Dorland’ on their website). There are also plans for a ‘windpark’ in Ernestown township, as well as the one on Amherst Island. If all of these projects are completed, the land from the county through to Wolfe Island will be covered. Perhaps it’s time for the Bay of Quinte area to join forces ??

  33. Cheryl Anderson says:

    PECFN is the right organization to lead the appeal against the government’s decision to approve the Gilead project at Ostrander Point.PECFN has the experience with and expertise of the environment of the South Shore Important Bird Area. We have every confidence that the Tribunal will agree with us that Ostrander Point is the wrong place for wind turbines. We do; however, need the support of every thinking person in the County to help us be successful in the appeal. Donations to our campaign to Save Ostrander Point are welcome.

  34. Mark says:

    Can someone who was present at the Council meeting inform as to whether any Council members declared a pecuniary interest?

  35. Mark says:

    This Council’s communication to the public in regards to this issue has been lacking for over a year. When numerous municipal leaders walked out in protest on the Premier in a meeting in Toronto last year our Mayor remained and stated he preferred dialogue. Well what dialogue has taken place with the province? They have sat and waited and now it is too late. They are not appealling because they are unprepared to do so. They knew this day was looming for a longtime but are now caught sitting on their collective hands knowing not what to do. Just as the Province had hoped for. This Council will have to at some point speak to their inaction.

  36. Lori Cairns says:

    This council has dropped the ball at every stage of this fight. Mr. Corporate Mertens has been a major diappointment and I am sorry I ever voted for him. His loyalties are obviously still with the 1%. He has strung us along during the whole process promising to take action at *the next step* while seemingly never having the intention to do so.

    I wonder what he is gaining from the lack of action. It certainly won’t be votes if he decides to run again.

  37. David Norman says:

    Jason Alford, County Sustainability Group spokesman and “community liaison for developer WPD” states; “So, time has come to, as they say. ‘Put up or shut up,’” “You must now all decide whether it is better to upset a few anti-wind people or to upset the majority of county residents by wasting their money on a pointless and flawed ERT appeal.”
    What an outrageously arrogant and tyrannical proclamation… the gloves are finally, irrevocably off. Alford is now a provocateur bully who has gotten his way and now wishes to see the wounds he has administered to the community fester and swell. His words reveal he loves the pain he has helped inflict on others.

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