SMITHVILLE, ON – February 10, 2014
The astounding news that three of the five industrial wind turbines in West Lincoln were constructed in violation of Provincial setback regulations has ignited a chorus of angry neighbours and the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group to demand that the MOE cancel this FIT wind energy contract. Confirmation of the setback deficiencies finally came Monday February 3rd when Mr. Vic Schroter, Director of the MOE, Environmental Approvals Branch acknowledged to WLGWAG member Wendy Veldman that an Ontario Land Surveyor had verified that 3 of the 5 turbines are deficient in their property boundary setback requirements and subsequently in violation of their Renewable Energy Approval.
The contentious West Lincoln wind project is in the final stage of completion and consists of five humongous turbines towering 475’ above this rural neighbourhood. If permitted to commence operation this spring the 729 residents living within a 2km radius of these 5 industrial wind turbines are fearful of the expected major negative impacts. As globally reported wherever industrial wind turbines have been erected as many as 15-20% experience serious health impacts, 20-40% property devaluation (if even salable at all), and a serious devastation of the local bird and bat populations.
The project is being constructed by Rankin Construction as a major partner in Vineland Power Inc. which received their Renewable Energy Approval on June 20, 2013 despite massive public protests and municipal Council objections dating back to 2010. Unfortunately, under the Liberal‘s Green Energy Act, municipal governments were stripped of their historic and democratic rights to plan or regulate such industrial intrusions onto prime agricultural farmlands, all in the name of this Orwellian “green energy “scheme. In response to the Province’s dictatorial Green Energy Act, the West Lincoln Council in conjunction with ninety one other rural municipalities declared itself a “Not a Willing Host” to wind turbines. Additional Council petitioning the Province to impose a moratorium on any wind development until the Federal Health Study on industrial wind turbines is completed in 2015. Similarly over 2000 local residents signed a wind moratorium petition which was submitted to the Provincial Legislature in April 2013 by local MPP Tim Hudak.
Neil Switzer, Chair of the WLGWAG proclaims that this setback violation illustrates the arrogance and disrespect wind companies have for neighbours and the lack of oversight on the part of the provincial regulators/promoters. The Renewable Energy Approval under Section 53 of Ont. Reg. 359/09 is very clear in the setback requirements. It states that no person shall construct a wind turbine unless a setback is provided between a turbine and the nearest property boundary equal to or greater than the height of the turbine hub, or 312’ in this case. Exceptions to this requirement are permitted so long as the wind company submits a Property Assessment Report at the time of permit application justifying reduced setback(s) or submission of signed agreements with neighbour(s) to the proposed reductions. According to an email from Sarah Raetsen, Senior MOE Program Coordinator, Environmental Approvals Branch, a property assessment report was not completed or submitted because IPC reported that all five industrial wind turbines were compliant to setback regulations
While the MOE hasn’t shared the extent of the setback deficiencies, members of the WLGWAG took measurements with a laser rangefinder and found four setback infractions with the largest short a whopping 92’ or 29% deficient. Most frustrating for local law abiding residents is the obvious double standard that is applied to wind turbine projects. As any homeowner, businessman or developer knows if ever they make a construction error on their approved setback distance they’d be slapped with an immediate stop work order and a demand to demolish or move the project irregardless of the owners expense or loss. Unfortunately it appears a different law applies to the wind industry and they can do no wrong under the current Liberal government’s “carte blanche” endorsements.
As of Friday, February 7, 2013 residents have now learned from Mr Steve Green, MOE Niagara Compliance Officer, that a new precedent will be set to legitimize the setback deficiencies by allowing the wind company to retroactively seek and acquire permission from the impacted neighbours to accept reduced turbine setback distances from their property boundaries. Interestingly, Sarah Raetsen (MOE) in an email to a WLGWAG member, clearly stated that if there was a need for a property assessment report it should have been completed PRIOR to the applicant’s final report submissions and MOE approval of the project.
“Enough is enough”, says Neil Switzer. “It’s time for all concerned citizens to join us in our demand that this project be cancelled immediately. It’s time to restore justice and to curb the skyrocketing electricity costs resulting from these inefficient and exorbitantly expensive wind projects”. Neil urges all to call or send your demand for cancellation of this project to Mr Vic Schroter, Director, Environmental Approvals Branch, who is both acutely aware of this transgression and more importantly has the legislated right to revoke or cancel the project’s approval. Please also send a copy of your demand to Schroter’s superiors Minister Bradley and Premier Wynne.
Phone or email Demand to:
Mr. Vic Schroter
Director, Section 47.5 Environmental Protection Act
Environmental Approvals Branch
2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12 A
Toronto, ON, M4V 1L5
1-800 565 4923
Copy Demand to:
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Hon Jim Bradley,
Minister of Environment
Footnotes: 1 – Section 53, Ont. Reg. 359/09, Environmental Protection Act
2. – Section 3 (2)18 ii a Ont. Reg. 347, Environmental Protection Act
Wind Industry Favoured Status Comments:
Examples of the wind industry’s favoured status readily abound. Under the Green Energy Act the Province neutered some 23 Acts and Regulation as dictated under the Green Energy Act to facilitate speedy and unhindered green energy approvals. Additionally they created an illusionary, stacked deck appeal system under the name of an Environmental Review Tribunal where it’s virtually impossible to ever see justice done let alone see an approval overturned. And when else has the Provincial government ever waived their standard contract cancellation clauses in the final two of three approval steps as was done by the Provincial government just prior to the last Provincial election. This alone virtually guarantees approval of all wind energy projects or else astronomical cancellation payouts as witnessed in the gas plant fiasco. And what other industry in Ontario has ever been issued so many permits to “harm, harass or kill endangered species” than the wind industry. As for apparent government/industry collusion, what else can you call it when the MOE quietly issued a permit to destroy a bald eagle’s nest in Haldimand late one Friday afternoon to be followed early the very next morning by the wind company’s chainsaws before word of this environmental travesty could reach the media.
Vineland Power Inc. Concessions:
From the onset the wind project appears to be favoured and able to do no wrong. Initially NAV Canada (the federal body responsible for flight safety in Canada) formally objected on March 17, 2011 to this project due to it’s proposed location on a flight path leading into the Hamilton Airport and the interference it would create on the airport’s flight radar system. Vineland Power apparently lobbied the upper echelon of NAV Canada and won their blessing with the agreed radar solution being to just shut off the radar over that particular portion of West Lincoln!
When Vineland Power received their Renewable Energy Approval for the 5 turbines, neighbours Anne Fairfield and Ed Engel filed an appeal on July 4th against the project. Normally in any other approval process this would automatically halts any construction until the appeal is resolved. However on July 5th before the appeal hearing had even commenced Vineland Power had already started construction. This action is permitted under the Green Energy Act but implies appeals don’t really matter or stand much chance of success.
Other examples of Vineland Power’s favoured status include the construction of their access roads with old asphalt millings which if not reused within 120 days of milling automatically is classified under Provincial regulations as “hazardous waste” 2. Neighbours concerned with the potential contamination of their drinking water wells requested the MOE to test the material and adjacent soils for toxic leachate but again with no action from the MOE. Furthermore neighbours reminded the Ministry staff that the transporting of hazardous wastes in Ontario requires a special permit yet despite this obvious violation, no fines or actions were taken by the MOE against the wind company.
One final example of a MOE concessions granted to this wind company involves their careless disregard of their own policy requiring all renewable energy projects to have a minimum setback of 75 metres from a gas well unless an engineer’s report can show no negative impacts. In Vineland Power’s project, two natural gas wells are located within 75m with one being only 5m from the buried high voltage collector cable. Fearing potential explosion and risk to the neighbouring six residents Anne Fairfield acquired the secret “engineer’s report” via a Freedom of Information Request and was shocked to read it’s content. In a letter to Mr David O’Toole, MNR Deputy Minister Anne requested the report be rejected due to several major errors contained within the report. Specifically the report wrongly assumed the buried high voltage cable was located on the opposite side of Sixteen Road from the closest gas well which falsely inflates the distance separation upon which the engineer drew his conclusion. Additionally the engineering report implied that the operators of the well were contacted and that the well was operational which in fact would be hard to ascertain as the two named operators are deceased. Again, however, the MNR overlooks the shortcomings and Anne and her five neighbours are left with the fear of explosion from this rusty old gas well being sparked by potential transmission cable stray voltage from the wind project.
Media Contact: Deb Murphy -905-692-3023 or Anne Fairfield – 905-957-2268