The tip of the Iceberg
On January 8 I had a letter published in the Kingston Whig Standard criticizing the Ontario Minister of the Environment’s (MOE’s) approval of the Ostrander Point Industrial Wind Turbine (IWT) Project.
Ostrander Point is a proposed IWT development located on the South shore of Prince Edward County on the Northeast edge of Lake Ontario. The site is within a globally recognised Important Bird Area (IBA) and is a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). As I wrote in this post and the letter referred to above, the decision violates the Precautionary Principle, a basic tenet of International Environmental Law. It is the type of decision that third world dictatorships get criticised for.
I stated “It is difficult to determine how many of the over 1,500 comments put in to the MOE during the public consultation period were negative, since the MOE has only published about 400 of them on their website.”
In fact, they were not published on the MOE website – they were published on the Ontario Environmental Registry website under EBR Registry Number: 011-5239.
That reference will take interested readers to the Notice of Appeal filed by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) on January 4. The original approval decision (and the limited comments and inadequate responses published by MOE) can be accessed through a link at the bottom of that page.
Coincidentally, on January 10 the Whig contained two very relevant items:
The first was a formal notice published by Wind Electric Inc, advertising the ‘Final Public Meeting’ on the Amherst Island Wind Energy Project. This project, a few miles east of Ostrander Point is also in an IBA. Arguably, this notice and the advertised public meeting are part of the same ‘rubber stamp’ process of approval as we have seen with Ostrander Point and other renewable energy projects (REPs).
Since the 2009 Green Energy and Economy Act stripped local municipalities of the power to approve (or reject) REPs under local planning laws, it has become apparent that ‘Consultation’ as far as the Ontario Provincial Government is concerned, does not mean either ‘Consideration’ or ‘Compromise’.
The second item in the January 10 Whig was published throughout the entire Sun Media network and involves a very timely call by Ontario Conservative Party for a moratorium on wind turbine developments (‘Ontario Tories call for halt to wind turbines after documents released‘).
This story centers around a Freedom of Information (FOI) release of Government documents which indicate that Ontario MOE functionaries have been aware of adverse noise impacts from the Melancthon IWT installation dating back to 2006, and that issuance of a statutory noise abatement notice in 2009 was quashed by ‘…an e-mail from Government staff’.
There have been many instances in the past where the Ontario Government has been embarassed by the leakage of internal documents. One classic example of such is the Hall memorandum, written by a Senior Environmental Protection Officer in 2010 pointing out that MOE Noise limits for IWTs were calculated incorrectly and were probably too high and therefore setback distances were likely too low.
It occured to me that the PECFN who are appealing the Ostrander Point Approval might do well to submit an FOI application as regards the internal correspondence related to the Approval, and in particular any correspondence related to the 1100 public comments which have not been published by the MOE.
I look forward to seeing how this story unfolds.