Court quashes cancellation of North Stormont wind farm

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

FINCH – A provincial court has quashed the Ontario environment minister’s decision to suddenly cancel the Nation Rise Wind Farm project in North Stormont five months ago.

In a 32-page decision released Wednesday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice divisional court said that the minister’s decision was unreasonable and “did not meet the requirements of transparency, justification, and intelligibility, as the Minister has failed to adequately explain his decision.”

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek revoked Nation Rise’s regulatory approval late last year over concerns about the bat population. The company was in the middle of construction and the “project is almost complete.”

The court found that the minister applied the wrong legal test in proceedings, make factual conclusions not supported by evidence in the record and ignored material evidence about the level of bat activity.

The court has called for the reinstatement of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision. The ERT had ruled in January 2019 that a citizen’s group failed to prove the turbines caused adverse health effects on people and animals, allowing the project to proceed.

In a statement from EDP Renewables today (May 14), the company says it’s “eager to recommence construction of the Nation Rise Wind Farm, which will bring much needed jobs and investment to the community.”

The company says it’s created over 230 local construction jobs and will create 10 full-time local jobs and more indirect jobs once the turbines are operating. It also says the project will inject more than $45 million into the local economy over three decades through taxes, a community benefit fund, landowner payments and donations to charities.

The 100 megawatt National Rise Wind Farm covers 12,000 acres in North Stormont and will have 29 turbines in the area from Crysler to Berwick and Finch.

The project was originally approved by the Independent Electricity System Operator in March 2016. It was under construction since May 2019 until work stopped in December 2019.

As part of the court decision, the Ontario government will have to pay $126,500 in legal costs and the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont (CCNS) will have to pay $60,000, both to EDP Renewables. EDP has to pay CCNS $12,500 for the group’s cost on Nation Rise’s motion to stay the minister’s decision.

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