In January 2015, the Director of the Ministry of Environment and
Climate Change ("MOECC") issued a Renewable Energy
Approval ("REA") to Ganaraska Nominee Ltd, to construct
and operate 9 wind turbines. The facility is to be located on the
Oak Ridges Moraine, ("ORM"), an ecologically important
area protected by provincial statute.
A local anti-wind group, Clarington Wind Concerns (the
"Appellants"), appealed the REA to the Environmental
Review Tribunal ("ERT"). Initially, the Municipality of
Clarington also filed a notice of appeal with the ERT, but
subsequently withdrew its appeal.
The ERT can only overturn an REA if opponents prove that the
project would cause serious harm to human health, or serious and
irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural
environment- see section 145.2.1 (2) of the Environmental
Most of the Appellants’ arguments had already been made,
and dismissed, in many other cases. They alleged, for example, that
the facility would cause serious harm to human health through the
creation of noise, shadow flicker, visual pollution, and ice and
debris throw. The ERT rejected these claims, as it has consistently
in the past. Once again, for example, the ERT was not convinced
that enough evidence exists to establish a connection between
annoyance associated with noise or visual impacts that would cause
serious harm to human health.
The more novel arguments were that the facility could threaten
public safety by spooking horses a kilometre away (e.g. by
flickering light, shadows, or turbine movement), or should a
turbine be hit by a tornado (a weather event that occurs in the
area once every 5,000 to 10,000 years per square kilometre).
Opponents also argued that the turbines would interfere with radio
communication devices used at a local ski resort to coordinate
emergency responses. All of these claims were dismissed as
The Appellants also argued serious and irreversible
environmental harm on the basis that the facility would be located
in the ORM. They had somewhat more success with this line of
argument, although the ERT ultimately rejected this basis for
revoking the REA. However, because no hydrogeological study had
been conducted for the project, and although none was statutorily
required, the ERT recommended that the MOECC "consider having
a qualified Ministry groundwater reviewer sign off on all REA
applications in the [ORM] area" (para 9).
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