Local taxpayers will be on the hook for the successful challenge to a plan to erect eight turbines in Clearview Township.
The same goes for Kevin and Gail Elwood, John Wiggins, and the residents’ group Preserve Clearview, after the Environmental Review Tribunal dismissed an application for costs related to their appeal of a decision to grant WPD a renewable energy application for the Fairview Wind Project.
The tribunal ultimately ruled last August to revoke that approval on the basis the planned 500-foot-tall turbines presented a serious risk to human health because of the proximity of the project to the Collingwood Regional Airport and the Clearview Aerodrome owned by the Elwoods.
In total, the group was seeking more than $850,000 in costs from WPD Canada and the Province of Ontario; Clearview Township, Collingwood, and Simcoe County were seeking more than half, or approximately $475,000.
Collingwood, Clearview, and the county had spent approximately $800,000 in legal and consulting fees in order to take part in the hearing.
In their ruling on costs, released Feb. 21, hearing chairs Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins determined the applicants failed to demonstrate that the actions of WPD, or the province, met the test of being “vexatious” or unreasonable conduct, or that either acted in bad faith.
The co-chairs also determined “there is no evidence presented in these costs motions to establish that (WPD) acted with any improper motivation or took actions that undermined the integrity of the hearing process.”
Kevin Elwood expressed disappointment in the decision — as well as the provincial government’s Green Energy Act, which he blamed for allowing Fairview to be approved in the first place over significant community opposition and the threat to pilot safety.
“As the community proved at the ERT hearing, this project should not have been approved in the first place,” he said. “It’s outrageous the government could be so negligent, making it necessary for the citizens to protect the public, then hide behind flawed legislation that robs the tribunal appointed by them in overlooking their bad decisions to award costs to the citizens who successfully proved the government compromised people’s safety.”