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Skydive Burnaby Appealing Tribunal Decision

Skydive BurnabyFred Furminger  The Tribune  June 28, 2014

 

Construction of Wainfleet Wind Energy turbines has been halted by a court order as Skydive Burnaby appeals the May ruling of Ontario’s environmental review tribunal, which dismissed its concerns about safety to its nearby parachutists.

Tara Pitt, who co-owns the skydiving club with husband Mike, said Ontario Divisional Court has granted an injunction prohibiting Wainfleet Wind Energy from any further work on the remainder of its five-turbine project in the Concession 1 area pending the appeal.

The injunction that went into effect last Monday applies only to the two unfinished turbines some 1.5 kilometres west of Skydive Burnaby on land owned by the Loeffen family, a partner in the wind energy company with Rankin Construction.

Tom Rankin said Tuesday there remains little left to do to complete those two turbines on Station Rd., and tie them in to three other finished Vestas V100-1.8MW turbines that have yet to be put into energy production.

“I should be operating now,” Rankin said.

The Pitts filed to have their case heard by the environmental review tribunal in October 2013 over concerns their business established in 1948 and its skydiving clients would be at risk by the 95-metre-tall turbines. Three weeks of hearings took place over January and February and subsequent conference calls with involved parties in March and April.

In his 87-page decision handed down in May, tribunal vice-chair Dirk VanderBent said the Pitts did not provide sufficient evidence to suggest its skydivers will be seriously harmed by collision with the wind turbines or interaction with their turbulence wakes.

Skydive Burnaby’s next recourse was to file an appeal with Ontario’s Divisional Court, which is responsible for hearing appeals from administrative tribunals. Appeals are normally heard by three Superior Court justices.

The Pitts’ lawyer, Eric Gillespie, said the injunction imposed by the court came with two conditions: that a hearing date be set in August — since set for the 18th and 19th; and that the Pitts give an undertaking to pay Wainfleet Wind Energy damages if their appeal is unsuccessful.

Gillespie said the undertaking will be challenged at a court review next Friday.

Wainfleet Wind Energy’s five turbines working in tandem, its website says, are estimated to generate 26 million kWh of power annually, enough electricity to power 2,500 homes.  Read article here.

Skydive Burnaby turbines appeal dismissed | St. Catharines Standard

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Skydive Burnaby’s appeal of Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc.’s plans to erect two wind turbines on Station Rd. has been dismissed by Ontario’s environmental review tribunal.

Mike and Tara Pitt filed their appeal in October 2013 over concerns their business established in 1948 and its skydiving clients would be at risk by the towers to be built 1.5 kilometres west of Skydive Burnaby on land owned by the Loeffen family, a partner in the wind energy company with Rankin Construction.

On Wednesday, tribunal vice-chair Dirk VanderBent handed down his decision.

He said the appellants did not provide sufficient evidence to suggest its skydivers will be seriously harmed by collision with the two wind turbines or interaction with their turbulence wakes.

Tara Pitt said Thursday morning that Skydive Burnaby had no comment to make at this time.

Tom Rankin said he and his stakeholders are “very happy” with the tribunal decision.

“I think it’s a pretty comprehensive document,” he said of the 87-page decision [see attachment at left column of page] that now clears the way for Wainfleet Wind Energy to complete its five-turbine project for which three towers have been erected off Concession 1.

Those three will be brought online when the other two are finished, likely within six weeks, he said.

Rankin said he stands behind his wind-energy project as a necessity to counter climate change.

“We’ve won three lawsuits now and two hearings,” he said.

“I’m proud of what I’m doing and I won’t back off.

“I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Greg Furminger – May 15, 2014 – St. Catharine’s Standard

Skydive Burnaby turbines appeal dismissed | St. Catharines Standard

Wainfleet Wind Energy’s five turbines working in tandem are estimated to generate 26 million kWh of power annually, enough electricity to for 2,500 homes and representing a greenhouse gas reduction of about 14,000 tonnes a year. Each Vestas V100-1.8MW turbine owned by Wainfleet Wind Energy stands 95 metres tall, with a blade diameter slightly larger at 100 metres.

Among controversy surrounding the Wainfleet project was township council’s decision last December to apply $40,000 in taxpayer money toward Skydive Burnaby’s legal bills for its appeal.

That decision was ultimately rescinded in January following public backlash and on the advice of the municipality’s legal counsel.

The tribunal decision handed down Wednesday followed three weeks of hearings over January and February and subsequent conference calls with involved parties in March and April.

Skydive Burnaby turbines appeal dismissed | St. Catharines Standard.

Approval halted on two Wainfleet turbines | Welland Tribune

WAINFLEET – 

Two days after a controversial decision by Wainfleet township council to use taxpayers’ money to fund a private company’s legal battle against wind turbines, the company behind the turbines has been ordered to halt construction on part of its development.

The order came from an environment review tribunal, which decided Thursday the renewable energy approval for two of Wainfleet Wind Energy’s five industrial wind turbines should be put on hold until the appeal by Skydive Burnaby is heard.

On Oct. 7, the Ministry of the Environment gave Wainfleet Wind Energy an REA to move forward with the project. Two weeks later, however, lawyers for Skydive Burnaby owners Mikel and Tara Pitt appealled, saying that two turbines planned to be within 1.7 km of their facility would be detrimental to their business.

In her decision Thursday, tribunal executive chair Lynda Tanaka said the motion for a stay of the renewal energy approval for the two turbines was granted until the appeal is decided. The tribunal is scheduled for three weeks in January.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’ll definitely take it as a win,” said Tara Pitt. “It wasn’t an easy road getting here, but I’m definitely happy.”

Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs, who has continually fought against having turbines built in the township, called it step in the right direction.

“Even if it is just for the two, it’s such a positive step forward,” she said. “It’s a breath of fresh air to see the province recognize how this will affect a business in our community.”

Tom Rankin, the president of Rankin Construction, which is a partner in Wainfleet Wind Energy, said the stay isn’t much of a setback.

“At that site we have the road built, the concrete foundation is built and we had the crane up, but we weren’t going to put up the tower until the new year anyway,” he said. “We have the critical work done we wanted to do. So I’m not happy about the decision, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Jeffs, meanwhile, defended a decision Tuesday to have the township pay $40,000 of Skydive Burnaby’s legal bills.

Though it wasn’t originally on the council agenda, a procedural bylaw was waived to allow Tara Pitts to make a presentation to council requesting the money. She said the idea for the public support came from Lambton county council making a similar decision recently.

“It was time sensitive because our original understanding of what our legal fees would be and what they ended up being were two different things,” Pitts said.

Jeffs, Ald. Betty Konc and Ald. Richard Dykstra voted in favour of granting the funding while Ald. Ted Hessels voted against the idea. Ald. David Wyatt wasn’t at the meeting.

“I don’t think it’s our right to use taxpayer money,” said Hessels. “It’s not really Wainfleet’s case anymore. It’s a private thing.”

He said he’s concerned with how it might look that a decision was made Tuesday night without the public knowing it was being discussed.

“We haven’t heard from the people on which way to go. You know there’s opposition to it,” he said.

“Personally I’m against what the turbine people are doing, but I wasn’t going to use my constituents money to fight it.”

Jeffs said she knows not everyone will agree with the decision.

“I’m sure we’ll hear from people about it, but that’s fair. I stand behind it. We had to decide and I think it’s a good decision,” she said. “It’s tough because Wainfleet has a small budget and $40,000 is a lot here.”

dan.dakin@sunmedia.ca

 

Approval halted on two Wainfleet turbines | Welland Tribune.