Kafkaesque: Opposing an industrial wind turbine project in Ontario
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Take a look at what happens when Ontarians try to oppose an industrial wind turbine project.
Laws, regulations, and processes seem to have eliminated every conceivable obstacle for the mad rush of the (economically useless, environmentally destructive) wind industrialization of rural Ontario. At the same time they effectively, undemocratically block wind project opponents at every turn. The Ontario Green Energy Act (GEA) and its quasi-judicial complaints department, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) pitch opponents headlong into a Kafkaesque nightmare.
- The government gives the Proponent permission to undertake an industrial wind turbine construction project, which includes granting a special environmental permit that allows the Proponent to kill, harm, and harass a Victim or two.
- Locals launch an appeal on the grounds that the project would, amongst other troublesome consequences, cause serious and irreversible harm to the Victims.
- The appeal is heard by a Tribunal, which issues a very rare decision favouring the Victims, finding that the Proponent’s project will indeed cause serious and irreversible harm to two classes of Victims.
- The Tribunal orders a further hearing to consider the Proponent’s proposed mitigations of this serious and irreversible harm.
- In the meantime, however, the Proponent is legally entitled (and signals the intention) to go ahead and begin the project site pre-construction work, and in the process kill, harm, and harass Victims, without first having to table mitigation plans at the next Tribunal hearing (see 4 above).
- Lawyers for the Victims file a motion to have the Tribunal issue a stay of the Proponent’s pre-construction on-site activity associated with the special permit to kill, harm, and harass.
- The Tribunal dismisses the Victims’ motion, with reasons for its decision to be given at a later time.
- Lawyers for the Victims then appeal to a Divisional Court with a motion for a stay.
- The Divisional Court also dismisses the appeal because the Victims’ lawyers, through no fault of their own, are unable to establish specific grounds for said appeal, given that they are in the dark about the reasons for the Tribunal’s dismissal of the motion (see 7 above).
- The Victims’ lawyers are entitled to renew their Divisional Court motion (see 8 above), if and when they ever receive the reasons for the Tribunal’s dismissal decision (see 7 above).
- Meanwhile, the circle is complete, with the Proponent apparently free to go ahead and kill, harm, and harass the Victims, even though there is to be a future Tribunal hearing (see 4 above) at which the Proponent is supposed to make proposals for mitigating the killing, harming, and harassing that probably will already have taken place by then.
That is the saga thus far with respect to the battle between the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County and the wind energy company wpd Canada Corporation.
The ERT appears to be nothing more than a Kafkaesque-Potemkin-kangaroo-emperor-with-no-clothes court.
The GEA and its companion, the ERT have allowed wind energy companies, eager to cash in on the Ontario Liberal government’s 20-year-guaranteed, above-market returns, to ride roughshod over democratic rights of people and municipalities. The kleptocratic subsidy scheme is footed by the taxpayers, and consumers’ electricity charges triple as a result.
Wind project opponents are spending inordinate amounts of time and money to fight a losing battle, the contest rigged from the start. For wind project opponents, the ERT appears to be nothing more than a Kafkaesque-Potemkin-kangaroo-emperor-with-no-clothes court.
The ERT gives people the illusion of offering democratic equality and justice before the law. In reality, it forces them to accept the industrialization of rural Ontario against their will, while depleting their wallets and spirit.
What’s at play here is just one aspect of the insidious implementation of the UN’s one-world-government Agenda 21, a blueprint for an anti-prosperity, anti-democratic sustainable development and wealth transfer movement. It uses the cudgel of the massive scientific deception of manmade climate change to clobber and guilt people into phony-green-energy submission. It has them running in circles, looking in vain for democracy and laws to protect their rights.
APRIL 4, 2016 – Wind developer wpd Canada Corporation indeed started clearing trees in preparation for wind turbine construction, despite the fact that the entire project was under appeal.
APRIL 6, 2016 – A hearing on a motion for a stay in the Court of Appeal for Ontario did not quite go as planned. As is the case in any ERT or court proceedings brought on by wind project opponents, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change deployed its lawyers to fight on behalf of the wind developer, in opposition to the people, who not only must pay their own lawyers, but, as taxpayers, also foot the bill for the Ministry’s lawyers!
This work began in areas known to be habitat for the endangered Blandings Turtle; the power developer is continuing even though there are reports that milder weather has resulted in the turtles emerging early from their winter hibernation, and are at great risk.
…Sylvia Davis, lawyer for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, cited a ruling from over fifty years ago that only a panel of three judges could hear an appeal of this nature.
It became clear at that point that the motion would not be heard until after the legal matter of whether this was properly before the court had been dealt with, with a potentially unfavourable decision.
Rather than spend considerable time and money on legal wrangling the decision was made to withdraw our motion for a stay on all physical activity at the White Pines project site. The motion was withdrawn on consent of all parties and without costs.
We will immediately be going to the Tribunal to once again request a stay.
APRIL 8, 2016 – And then, mirabile dictu, the ERT granted a temporary stay!
Late this afternoon the Environmental Review Tribunal granted a temporary stay of WPD’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA). As a result of the stay all construction work at the project site has been brought to a halt. The Tribunal will schedule a written hearing at a later date to decide on the merits of a more permanent stay.
There will be blood on the ground: permission to kill and do serious, irreversible harm
An Ontario Divisional Court overturned last year’s decision by the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal that stopped the construction of nine industrial wind turbines that would despoil the environmentally sensitive Ostrander Point, situated on provincially-owned Crown land in Prince Edward County. Last year, the Tribunal had revoked the approval, given by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) in December 2012, on the basis that the Blanding’s turtle would suffer serious and irreversible harm if the development went ahead.
The MOE joined the project proponent, Gilead Power, in an appeal of the Tribunal’s ruling to the Ontario Divisional Court. “Three lawyers from the Ministry of Environment and the Attorney General’s office argued that their own MOE-appointed panel had erred,” said the Wellington Times.
With the Divisional Court’s decision on February 20, 2014, Gilead Power Corporation is presumably once again entitled, according to the permit it was originally granted on July 23, 2012 by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA), “to ‘damage and destroy the habitat of Eastern Whip-poor-will’, as well as to ‘kill, harm, harass, capture, possess and transport’ both Blanding‟s turtle and Whip-poor-will, resulting from the development and operation of the Project” (from the Tribunal’s ruling, see Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County v. July 3, 2013).
Permits to kill, harm, harass, capture, possess and transport a species at risk or to damage and destroy its habitat are no longer issued to industrial wind turbine developers, but not for the reasons you may think.
Seven months ago the Ontario government almost completely undid its leash on the marauding weasels of wind. It gave up its power to monitor and regulate what the industrial wind turbine developers do to wildlife and the environment, making it even easier for the wind companies to do their dirty work, and harder than ever for concerned citizens and communities to assert their rights. New regulations granting more special rights to wind companies state in part:
On July 1, 2013, a series of regulatory amendments came into force creating broad exemptions from the ESA’s requirements to obtain a permit or agreement prior to harming a species at risk or its habitat. Instead of requiring permits or agreements, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) now allows companies to follow rules set out in regulation. This is generally called a permit-by-rule system.
Under the amended regulation, eligible proponents are automatically given an exemption provided they follow the prescribed rules. MNR has given up its power to say “no” to any project, regardless of the ecological importance of the area or the possibility there will be damaging cumulative impacts on the species at risk or its habitat.
Although proponents are generally required to document the measures they will take to minimize “adverse effects” on species, proponents almost never have to submit the documentation to MNR. MNR will therefore have no ability to know whether the permit-by-rule system is actually protecting species at risk.
The government’s own Environmental Commissioner has stated:
“By eliminating the permit process, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has shed its ability to say ‘no’ to a proposed activity, no matter how harmful it may be to an imperilled species,” says Commissioner Miller. “And since proponents don’t have to file any monitoring reports with the ministry, MNR will be blind to the effectiveness of its new rules.”
The Ontario Liberal government is wilfully enabling the destruction of the environment (not to mention people’s health, communities, property values, quality of life) for a fake-green technology that has proven to be useless and has already wasted billions of dollars. It’s enough to make you scream at the insanity, the government’s dereliction of fiduciary duty to the people, and the perversion of democracy in Ontario.