October 30 Adelaide ERT. Stephana has finished her presentation and now it is Kathryn Minten’s turn. She was supposed to speak the previous week but the lawyers spent so much time trying to disqualify her that there wasn’t time for her to give her presentation. In one respect, that was just as well. It was very difficult to hear, let alone listen attentively in the echoing basketball court where she was to testify.
Kathryn had originally asked to be a party and bring in 5 witnesses. The witnesses were disallowed. She asked for 4 hours and was given two hours of which only 40 minutes were for her testimony – the rest for cross-examination. This is after they have spent over 3 hours trying to reduce or disqualify her before she has even started. Their efforts to suppress her suggest that what she has to say is important.
The tribunal chair sets the tone, telling her she has only 40 minutes so she should maybe just touch the high points – they have her witness statement so she doesn’t have to read it all out.
Certain parts of her witness statement have been disallowed. Nextera’s Arlen Sternberg wants those parts physically removed. And he’d like it done NOW!
These are legitimate concerns. Arlen knows how lawyers will sneak something in where it doesn’t seem to matter and then use that as a precedent and build on it later on. They are getting concerned that even if we aren’t doing it intentionally, we still might be setting precedents.
There will be an example of this the next day when their bird expert is qualified partly on the basis that he was qualified as expert at the Bornish appeal. I did the Bornish appeal with no lawyers and I wasn’t qualified to challenge the status. He got in easily there and they use that to qualify him here.
So they are worried about Kathryn’s testimony. They have managed to deprive her of her 5 witnesses and she is going to give some of the same information the witnesses would have. She doesn’t qualify as an expert but she has submitted the documentation the witnesses would have used. That’s why they spent the whole previous morning trying to cut back her testimony. They actually complained that “Her witness statement is 47 pages of dense technical information.”
Yeah? So? Is there a rule that says we can only present emotional opinion pieces that can be easily dismissed?
Arlen says that this is hearsay evidence – she’s quoting Dr. Beaudry’s testimony from the Ostrander Point appeal.
The MOE lawyer agrees. That’s his job.
Esther disagrees. They should be heard. Daryl deGroot and Ted Minten should be heard, but you’ve eliminated them – you don’t want to hear about stray voltage – this is no democracy.
And Kathryn disagrees. “It’s not evidence, it’s a reference to an expert who has testified at an ERT.”
Finally Arlen concedes that point, but he is still very concerned about her soil material. (More on that, later)
The Minten organic dairy farm has 85 cows milking and over 200 animals total.
She is concerned that given the width of the road allowance the poles will be very close to – nearly directly above – the electric fencing along their pasture. A high voltage line can induce current in a wire running parallel to it. This could become a dangerous situation for family members, especially young children.
She also explains what step-voltage, stray voltage, and a few other terms mean, and how they can affect a modern electronic dairy farm.
She gives an example of incorrect information that NextEra has filed with the Ministry and it was only changed after she discovered it and complained.
“…they took on a registered deed on our home farm property from TCI, Strathroy Wind GP, and Summerhaven Wind, that was never based on any contract. It has made it through 3 transfers of our contract and no one has shown diligence in checking the validity of the contracts.
She said, “While NextEra may object that this information is outside the relevance of the Tribunals jurisdiction – I think it is completely valid as a character reference for the company that we are dealing with. To our community, they have exhibited themselves as a company that will do whatever it takes to get their project to go through.”
Kathryn goes on to explain that a ‘family farm’ isn’t just a phrase- the whole family, down to fairly young children are involved, even if it’s only going out to move that cattle into different pastures. When the grass has dew on it, you can get wet to the knees and your resistance to electrical shock from stray or step voltage can drip significantly. Children have a lower risistence than adults and a fetus in utero could be killed by a shock that the mother would think mild.
Farming is among the top 10 most dangerous jobs- long hours, large machinery are major factors. W.H.O. is concerned about kids and the noise they are subjected to. In Kathryn’s case, homeschooling their children, this is a concern and the issues are not being addressed.
Moving on to environmental concerns, she talks about the meadowlark and bobolink which are losing habitat and the Mintens are making allowances to encourage these birds. Nextera is negating that effort.
Snapping turtles and bats are another concern. Nextera says there aren’t any significant turtle or bat habitats. Kathryn points out that the fact that they didn’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s in the nature of an endangered species that there aren’t many of them so you aren’t likely to see them if you just visit and look around now and then.
Nextera says they didn’t see them so they aren’t significant. This is exactly wrong, she says. It IS significant just because there are so few of them. They don’t see any bat colonies in the woods so they say there aren’t any, but we all know that every old house has lots of them.
The MNR is giving approvals based on very weak and incomplete studies.
“There are risk factors that are unaddressed and this amounts to willful negligence.”
Applause from the gallery.
Now the good part where the lawyers try to discredit her. And fail!
In the following. AS is Arlen Sternberg, the Nextera Lawyer. KM is Kathryn Minten
AS – are you aware there is a newer report?
KM – Yes – It was released after my deadline but it doesn’t change much.
AS – did you review the whole document?
KM – yes
AS – it’s a long document – 350 pages.
KM – it took a long time.
AS – there is no reference in this report about snapping turtles.
KM – exactly my point.
AS – the report says there will be no impact…
KM – it says no SIGNIFICANT impact. The governments says a species of concern, if not mitigated, will become an endangered species.
JT – (John Terry – another NextEra lawyer) are you aware of the RUA – Road User Agreement?
KM – no. I’ve never seen it. NextEra has not presented it to me or our community.
JT – it’s available from the [MOE? I missed this – Bob].
KM- that information also was not made available to our community. [There is a very similar set of circumstances in the first book of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy -Bob]
JT – are you aware of the ESA [Electrical Safety Assoc] rules and enforcement and safety code? A project must be designed to meet the code…
KM Yes – I’m aware of it. And I’m also aware that we still have problems.
JT – are you aware that the new turbines minimize harmonic distortion?
KM – Yes – and I know that we still have problems.
Esther asks about getting information – answers to questions.
KM – one lease says that if questioned about any issues you are to say, “It’s been dealt with to my satisfaction.”
No one ever told us that current could be induced in fencing. They have never dealt with any of our concerns or questions.
In her summation Kathryn says
Our community has never, so completely and overwhelming pulled together, as it has in the recent years to try to defend ourselves from this, and other nearby projects. There are so many risk factors that are unaddressed by this company that it borders negligence. They count on us not knowing, and not asking. However, as time progresses and more of these projects are built, there is more and more information available to support our communities in rejecting industrial wind turbines so close to our homes, schools, and workplaces. I believe that the Tribunal can make an informed decision to halt NextEra’s Adelaide wind project based on the information provided to them in this Tribunal, and I ask that they would step forward to do so.
There was much more and we will be putting her whole testimony on-line shortly, as well as her final submission.
Every question started with ‘are you aware…’ as they tried to find weaknesses in her presentation. It was a treat to hear every question answered with, “Yes, I’m aware of that, AND I’M ALSO AWARE THAT… “ and she would add something to strengthen her case even more.
Stay tuned for another exciting account of citizens fighting for justice against an uncaring government, an amoral corporation, and mercenary lawyers.