by Harvey Wrightman
When the Green Energy Act (GEA) was created in 2009 it was crafted to remove the planning powers of local councils. Recognizing that wind projects are complex, massively intrusive/destructive to local communities and create a lot of local resentment, an appeal process was set up where residents could file a formal appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) – a kind of safety valve where ordinary citizens could present their arguments. On receiving the appeal, the ERT could either accept the reasons for appeal as legitimate, or dismiss it straight away. All the appeals that have been filed against wind projects have been done by local groups or individuals who are acting “in the public interest” and do not stand to benefit personally from a favourable appeal decision. This is an important point that is generally accepted by the courts in this country. Notwithstanding this principle, both the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and various wind companies have sought costs awards in several ERT appeal hearings. Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. has been the target of these motions in 3 of the 6 appeals we have been in – Zephyr, Varna, and most recently St. Columban. The decision in that case was provided on 2014/05/27 and has provided more guidance for future ERT appeals.
ORDER – The Approval Holder’s application for costs as against the MLWAG Appellants is dismissed.
From the decision:
On January 25, 2014, the Approval Holder informed the Tribunal that it intended to file with the Tribunal an application for costs with respect to the proceeding as against the MLWAG Appellants only. On January 27, 2014, the Tribunal wrote to the parties stating that the costs application would be heard in writing and requested that the parties agree to a schedule for submissions. On February 14, 2014, the Approval Holder served the parties and filed with the Tribunal its submissions with respect to the costs application. On February 26, 2014, the MLWAG Appellants filed submissions with respect to the costs applications. On February 26, 2014 and March 3, 2014, the Director and the Dixon/Ryan Appellants respectively wrote to the Tribunal stating that they would not be filing submissions. On March 4, 2014, the Approval Holder filed reply submissions.
That’s how the ERT describes the selective action taken by the approval—holder of the St. Columban wind project, owned by Veresen Inc. – a Calgary energy company that describes itself as, “Veresen is a leading diversified energy infrastructure company that owns and operates energy infrastructure assets across North America. We are engaged in three principal business lines…pipelines, midstream, renewable energy (wind).” Note, a gas/wind combo that is a common occurrence. Note also the selective nature of the application, the other appellants were not named. And lastly note that the “Approval Holder” Veresen is represented by McCarthy Tetrault, the same law firm that NextEra hired to pursue its SLAPP-suit against Esther Wrightman, who is my daughter. Continue reading