Dateline: Feb 3, 2013
This recent article from the Globe and Mail summarizes the current situation with Industrial Wind in a much more eleoquent way than we could ever do. Wow! Media people who have taken the time to think about the issues are starting to understand what is going on! Hope it’s not too late for our eagles!
Dateline:Dec 12,2012 MCSEA Inc Pulls plug on appeal
We want all our supporters to know that this was a very difficult decision. It was in NO way because we did not believe in the absolute truth of our position. We have done our research. We know that there will be serious harm to the health of some local residents and to the environment. We pulled out because the tribunal process is a sham. It is designed so it consumes all the opponents time energy and resources without a hope of ever winning. The onus of proof of serious and irreversible harm lies entirely on the opponent. Below is a summary of our reasoning. The tribunal will not allow discussion of any other issues related to the project other than described in its narrow mandate – even if the project REA contains a hundred misleading statements and inaccuracies.
We hope that by outlining our reasoning in detail other groups considering the tribunal route will be aware of the situation. We know there will be many people who feel let down. The battle is NOT over (we have only withdrawn the tribunal appeal).
The Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives Inc. has been preparing to submit to the Tribunal the following facts in appeal for case # 12-148:
1.The McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm (MMWF), as approved, will result in serious harm to human health. The sworn facts supporting this conclusion are:
- Many people in Ontario and other parts of the world have reported and are experiencing serious health impacts from industrial wind turbines at similar and greater setbacks than those proposed for the MMWF, and in many cases for much smaller turbines than those proposed for this project.
- The sound levels approved for the MMWF are up to 51dBA – which are well in excess of levels known and globally accepted to cause serious health impacts.
- The Director for the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has chosen to ignore all indirect health effects stating instead that he is satisfied that the project will produce no “direct” health effects. Modern day assessment of health risks includes all health effects, direct and indirect, on all aspects of health: physical, mental and social, for both the personal and communal.
2.Serious harm to local residents has already happened and will further occur if the MMWF project proceeds, supported by the following:
1.First Nations peoples, including many elders, are being disrespected and victimized by this approval process (resulting in stress-related health impacts):
i. They are not being consulted by the Government of Canada as is their right.
ii. If the Government of Canada delegated its responsibility (for which is unauthorized) it did not ensure that the job was done properly.
iii. There is an outstanding Band Council resolution stating opposition to the project which is not being considered or honoured.
iv. There are unresolved treaty rights in the project area.
v. First Nations Band Members have no recourse to voice their concerns given the narrow definition of the mandate for the Environmental Review Tribunal.
2.The Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process for the MMWF has circumvented recognizing the health impacts which will occur for those building, planning to build, or any who would have a future interest in building on non-participant lands adjoining this project. Additionally, the process circumvented responsibility for loss of opportunity and value which has been unilaterally imposed on those current and future land owners:
i. Vacant lot receptor points have been arbitrarily located so that they are in areas where owners will never build or cannot build. No consideration has been given to the normal building patterns of the area where most likely future building locations (and receptor points) lie within the setback requirements for non-participant receptors.
ii. Some receptors are not recognized. In some cases the turbines appear to have been deliberately positioned, through MOE permitted setback reductions, to increase adverse effects and impact on right to use and enjoyment of neighbouring non-participant lot owners.
iii. At least one non-participant landowner had his right to build impacted by a lack of response from ministry staff about the validity of his building permit.
iv. Some vacant lots within the danger zone are not recognized.
v. Some turbines are located on proponent final project maps over 200 meters from GPS locations stated in REA submissions.
vi. The transmission line has been rerouted after the Ontario Energy Board process was completed.
vii. There is no municipal or planning board statute to protect persons from harm by building within the danger zone on their properties thus exposing children and future generations to harm.(In some cases the danger zone occupies their entire property and/or precludes safe building)
3. The ambient sound levels in the project area are particularly low and the MOE has recognized that noise will be particularly likely to harm residents in quiet rural areas.
i. Studies in Australia and elsewhere have demonstrated that serious health effects occur when unwanted noise exceeds 5dBA above ambient levels.
ii. There is now good evidence that turbine noise is both cyclical and tonal at times – the exemption used in this project should have been removed.
4.The community has already been harmed from a large burden of stress and sense of disempowerment resulting from this project:
i. More people have written in opposition to the MMWF project in the last 3 years than any other single issue in the 125 year history of the community newspaper. Many are very worried and distressed. People feel the process has been designed to specifically ensure that their input is ineffective (including the Environmental Review Tribunal process). People in this community, whether they work in the industry or not, all rely on the economic influences of tourism for their prosperity and health. Tourism on this unique island (The Great Spirit Island) will be decimated by the industrial wind industry as it has been in other similar areas in the world with these developments.
ii. Over 1100 signatures in opposition to this project, with over 600 from Manitoulin Island First Nation communities have been sent to political leaders, MPP’s and MP’s.
3. The project will cause serious harm to the unique environment:
- Bats, are already under serious assault from disease in this province. They are an essential part of our ecosystem and provide huge economic benefits for local farmers. Monitoring will not reduce bat kill. Even interventions already known to reduce bat kill have not been mandated. Bats populations have been sacrificed for the profit motives of the MMWF and the Green Energy and Green Economy Act.
- A small raptor and soaring bird population forms an essential year round part of the McLean’s Mountain ecosystem. Only monitoring is suggested. No mitigation is mandated at any threshold of kill. The inevitable consequence of this lack of protective measure is that the raptor and other soaring bird population will be killed off until they fall below thresholds and the local population is exterminated.
- Turbines are planned to be built in and immediately adjacent to sensitive wetlands despite the assertions of the proponent to the contrary.
- The MOE was given information on sharp tailed grouse breeding and gathering grounds which was not included in the REA or responded to in any meaningful way.
In light of these important facts, as the Appellant, we believe the approval of the Northland and Mnidoo Mnising Powers’ McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm project should be rescinded.
Despite all these facts, which we feel are the strongest possible evidence that there will be serious consequences to human health and to the environment, we find ourselves in the difficult and unfair situation of having to withdraw from this appeal. This is our only possible recourse given that:
- The Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) authorises the Environmental Review Tribunal with a mandate so narrow and a threshold so high that our advisors all state that it impossible to achieve a resolution in favour of human health and the environment.
- Rather than exercising prudence in the face of many reports of harm, the GEA, unlike any other know environmental protection act, has been written to require that the persons harmed have on themselves the onus of proof that the polluter has or will definitely harm them. This unusual and extreme test for absoluteness in prediction is virtually impossible to meet, even though significant and meaningful evidence exists that would lead to different decisions under a rational precautionary approach. (Even large well-designed epidemiological studies showing significant influences on outcome cannot prove direct causality with absolute certainty.)
- The MOE could provide no direction as to the definition of the test (serious and irreversible). Council for the MOE stated: “The MOE has no general statement which sets out a position on the definitions of the terms used in the legislation”. Since the tribunal defers to the MOE this makes the chance of meeting the test that much more unlikely.
- The proponent and Director have extensive financial resources to pay legal staff and experts to defend the interests of the proponent. As the Appellant, we have essentially no financial resources and are therefore unable to secure the many experts who would testify in our favour.
- The timelines for the Tribunal review process have been set so short that it is impossible for us, as the Appellant, to mount an effective defense.
- Proving the truth is not possible within the legal limitations invoked in the GEA – in fact it seems to be precluded.
- It appears that there is little real interest in protecting either heath or the environment in either the enabling legislation of the Environmental Review Tribunal for REA appeals, or in the actions of the MOE. Even in cases where the Act has been clearly abrogated and MOE inspectors have warned that serious harm is occurring, representatives of the Director have not acted to reduce harm – in fact communications within the Ministry (obtained though FOI request) suggests that the information has been suppressed. These documents (attached) show that in 2009, knowledge of noise causing harm from wind turbines was shared with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment, the Director of Environmental Approvals and Service Integration, as well as Regional Director for the Ministry by field officers. It is clear from these internal MOE emails that the noise regulations in place which are to guarantee our protection after a wind project is in operation in the words of the MOE field officer “.…should be considered of no current use, and most likely will not be for an extended period of time in the future.”
Therefore, the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives Inc. regrets to inform you of the withdrawal of Notice of Appeal the in ERT case # 12-148.