By Connor Lynch
NORTH STORMONT — A North Stormont community group has gone to the Environmental Review Board to stop the wind project due to spring up in their community.
Spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, Berwick resident Margaret Benke, said that the appeal filed in late May was an effort to at least dial the project back if it can’t be stopped.
The Nation Rise wind project, a 33-turbine wind farm in North Stormont, 45 minutes southeast of Ottawa, was approved just days before the provincial parliament was dissolved before the election. Most of the turbines, 31, will sit on the area’s highly vulnerable aquifer, so designated by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
Premier-elect Doug Ford pledged on the campaign trail to declare a moratorium on new wind projects and scrap the Green Energy Act, whose highly lucrative contracts have been often blamed for Ontario’s rising hydro prices. The Nation Rise project, however, has already been approved, leaving the government with limited options if it’s even willing to intervene.
Benke said the board is limited in the kinds of decisions it can make; it has to make a ruling based on the current policies when the project was approved. “It’s not a really hopeful opportunity,” Benke said. “But you don’t just give up.”
A pre-hearing conference was scheduled for July 5, at 10 a.m. in the Finch Arena, at 4 John Street at Finch. The hearing was scheduled for July 23 at the same time and place.
Benke said her group is hoping that once appointed, the new minister of the environment and climate change would put a stay on the project. The company would likely file a lawsuit against the government, but it would buy time. “We know we’re in it for the long haul,” Benke said.
Meanwhile, an application for the courts to review part of the approval decision is still languishing in judicial limbo. Benke said it likely wouldn’t be until the end of the summer before the judicial review would move forward. The plan? “Continue with each of these battles, until one works.”