MPP joins fray in criticizing WPD decision to start work
The Member of Provincial Parliament for Prince Edward has joined the fray of those crying out against wind developer WPD's decision to start clearing land for a wind farm.
MPP Todd Smith has written the province’s Environment Minister to ask him to ensure that the Environmental Review Tribunal process currently underway in Prince Edward County, isn’t unduly influenced by WPD which this week began clearing pre-construction work.
“While I can appreciate the Minister’s desire to uphold the integrity of the Environmental Review process, I must insist that the process is being undermined by the proponent in this case.” Smith stated in the letter. “Last week, WPD served notice that it intends to begin clearing land on the South Shore of Prince Edward County which is not currently covered by a stay issued by an Ontario Court last year.”
While an Ontario Court did grant a stay preventing construction in certain areas in Southern Prince Edward County, WPD has begun clearing vegetation in areas not covered by the court order.
“This is only the latest in a long line of actions taken by the proponent to exert pressure or influence on the Tribunal to render a decision on its timeline – instead of the tribunal’s – and in its favour, regardless of the impact on the biodiversity of the South Shore,” Smith stated.
“The proponent has been an unrelentingly poor corporate citizen in its interactions with the County and its residents and, now, is seeking to begin construction activities in an attempt to pressure a decision from the Tribunal.”
Smith added that the project, in addition to producing expensive power that the government has already admitted Ontario doesn’t need, Hydro One customers including those in the County will end up paying to hook this project up to the grid.
“If you look at Hydro One’s last rate application, their customers are paying the cost of hook-up for these projects.” Smith concluded. “So, this isn’t just bad for the environment down in the County, it’s bad for pocketbooks of County electricity customers.”
Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff stated Wednesday he is looking at what action the County can take against the developer of a proposed 27-turbine wind farm south of Picton.
Quaiff said he was surprised to learn WPD Canada had begun vegetation clearing on the north side of Royal Road, since the company hasn't completed a road use agreement with the municipality, and hasn't applied for a building permit.
The Environmental Review Tribunal approved a stay for the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County last year, preventing WPD from working in the Blandings turtle spring foraging habitat.
APPEC chair Gord Gibbins stated in an email to the media his group is "taking steps to counter WPD's actions," including contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
He stated the action by WPD shows it "is evident how little respect WPD has for the ERT appeal process."
An ERT official said the clearing won't be investigated unless the agency receives a complaint.
The tribunal ruled last year work at the site would cause serious and irreversible harm to Little brown bats and the Blandings turtle, and a final decision on the fate of the facility was expected before the end of March, and is due at any time now.
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