CHATHAM -- Construction will cease at one turbine site for the North Kent Wind project, but a court order is prohibiting anyone from blockading, obstructing or impeding access to any other construction sites for project.
However, the matter will return to court at the end of the month, when the grassroots citizen group Water Wells First plans to be ready to make its case for stopping the project, due to the impact vibrations from constructing the turbines have had on area water wells.
In a statement released Thursday, North Kent Wind stated it appeared before the Superior Court of Justice on Wednesday seeking injunction prohibiting blockades and other interference with the construction of its wind project.
“We respect the rights of citizens who disagree with wind energy or the project to have their voices heard,” the company stated.
“The motion for injunctive relief became necessary because some protestors were engaging in what we believe was unlawful conduct, raising serious concerns about the safety of workers and protestors alike,” the statement added.
North Kent Wind said it sought the assistance of the court to enforce the rule of law and keep the peace.
“At the request of the court and out of respect for those who oppose the project and wish to be heard, we agreed to cease construction at one turbine site, which is currently blockaded and occupied by protestors, until the motion is heard by the court on Sept. 28-29.”
The court has granted an interim order restraining and preventing anyone from blockading, obstructing, or impeding access to any of the construction sites for the project.
Kevin Jakubec, spokesman for Water Wells First, called the upcoming court appearance “a blessing in disguise.”
He said when the matter returns to court, this will be the first time, that he is aware of, that evidence will be brought before a court in Ontario regarding the damage a wind farm has caused to the environment and a water resource.
Jakubec said Water Wells First will be challenging the company’s assertion that the blockade at a turbine construction site on Bush Line was unjust.
“We’re saying, ‘No, the blockade is just, because we’re having impacts,’” he said.
“It gives our people a chances to come forward – we can call them as witnesses,” he added.
The statement by North Kent Wind included a response about seven complaints that have been received.
“The first three investigations by environmental consultant AECOM have concluded that based on vibration monitoring data and the distance between the piling activity to the well site, the groundwater quality and supply issues experienced are not a result of turbine foundation construction or pile-driving activities,” the company stated.
Four complaints are currently under analysis with the results of two expected this week, the company said.
The statement also noted research completed by Golder Associates has determined that the vibration magnitudes from pile driving were no greater than may be induced by other common day-to-day sources and inconsequential for the wells.
“We know water quality issues can be stressful for well owners and their families, and we are committed to continue working with well owners, the MOECC, and the Municipality as construction progresses.”
North Kent Wind, owned by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy, is a 100 megawatt project that will have up to 36 turbines operating north of Chatham. The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has also exercised its right to purchase a 15 per cent stake in the project through the muncipal-owned electric Utility Entegrus at a cost of $7.74 million.
Jakubec said Water Wells First continues to be contacted by landowners who are experiencing damage to their wells. He added he was spending Thursday with Bill Clarke, a hydrogeologist working with the group, to investigate these complaints.