STELLA -- The legal battle against a proposed wind energy project on Amherst Island has begun.
In a preliminary hearing last week in Bath, the Association to Protect Amherst Island and other groups opposed to the project applied for status at an appeal hearing set for late this year.
In late August, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change gave Windlectric conditional approval to build up to 26 wind turbines and a substation transformer on the island.
The work is to take between a year and 18 months to complete and is to produce up to 74 megawatts of electricity.
The preliminary hearing was meant to hear from groups or individuals seeking status at the hearing, identify the issues to be considered at the hearing, and deal with preliminary matters raised by those taking part.
Four groups or individuals were granted participant or presenter status at the upcoming hearing, including the Kingston Field Naturalists, the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, island resident Amy Caughey, and the Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy (CAIRE), whose 120 members include most of the landowners resident on the island who have leased land for turbine construction or related infrastructure.
The Kingston Field Naturalists are expected to present about potential harm to the bobolink population on the island.
The CRCA is expected to talk about Owl Woods and the potential habitat damage.
Caughey is to explain her concerns about possible impact of the project's construction on the Amherst Island Public School.
"The Association to Protect Amherst Island remains adamantly opposed to the construction of turbines on Amherst Island and has appealed the MOECC decision to grant Renewable Energy Approval to Windlectric Inc. and plans to make application for judicial review of the application," APAI president Peter Large wrote in a letter to Loyalist Township. "The association also continues to explore all legal and political opportunities to stop the industrialization of Amherst Island."
APAI is expected to appeal the project on grounds that it would cause "serious harm to human health; or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment."
Large is expected to address township council at an upcoming meeting about the draft roads use agreement, draft haul route and the draft community benefit agreement.
The appeal hearing is scheduled for early December.