Preserve Grey Highlands Citizens Alliance Inc. has filed a judicial review application in the Ontario Divisional Court challenging the issuance of a Certificate of Approval by the Ministry of the Environment for the Plateau Wind Project near Beaver Valley in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. The project spans centuries-old wetlands that are source waters for the Saugeen, Grand and Mad Rivers and includes some of Ontario’s most pristine resources.
The application alleges numerous deficiencies in the government’s environmental review process and its failure to address the cumulative effects of multiple industrial wind developments in the community.
In its application the Alliance emphasizes the inconsistencies between the Ministry’s own Statement of Environmental Values and its environmental assessment processes for industrial wind turbine projects.
In addition, supporting documents identify the negative impacts industrial wind turbines appear to have on the recreation and tourism industry in the area, on neighbouring property values, on the subsequent tax revenues for local communities and on the health of residents exposed to noise and other impacts.
The Alliance is also requesting that the Divisional Court review the government’s almost exclusive reliance on information provided by wind developers in a self-assessment process – with minimal independent verification or oversight by the Ministry to replace the local government scrutiny that was removed by the McGuinty government in the Green Energy Act.
A member of the Alliance, Michael Trebilcock, Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Toronto, further notes the concerns over “the staggering costs of the Province’s renewable energy policies, the superficial and hasty assessment of environmental impacts, and the grossly overstated and unsupported predictions of green jobs.” He also notes that even the government’s own Environmental Commissioner has described the environmental assessment process as “broken”. The Alliance’s allegations have not yet been proven in court.
According to Larry Close, President of Preserve Grey Highlands Citizens Alliance Inc., “(T)he denial of every request for a full environmental assessment, brought before a Minister who publicly supports industrial wind turbines, dictates that the Ministry’s failure to meet the conditions in its Statement of Environmental Values be tested in a court of law.” He adds, “(I)n a democratic society the implementation of government policies must be subject to the rules of administrative law, and our rights as taxpaying citizens must be respected.”