STELLA -- After more than a month-long hiatus, the Environmental Review Tribunal's hearing into the Amherst Island wind energy project resumed Monday.
The tribunal began three days of hearings in Stella this week and included a tour of 16 points around the island.
While the hearing is open to the public, the public and media were not allowed to take part in the site visit.
According to the rules of the ERT, only parties, participants and presenters with authorization from the tribunal can attend site visits.
"The hearing on this matter will be open to the public. However, in accordance with Rule 186 of the ERT's Rules of Practice and the ERT's Practice Direction on Site Visits, only the parties, participants and presenters with authorization from the tribunal can attend site visits," Carlo Falletta, Citizen Liaison Co-ordinator with the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario, explained in an email to the Whig-Standard.
About a dozen people were on the tour, which, in addition to tribunal members, included representatives of the company proposing the project, Algonquin Power's subsidiary Windlectric Inc., the Association to Protect Amherst Island, and island resident Eric Wellbanks of the group Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy.
Among the locations included on the tour was Amherst Island Public School, the proposed dock location and sites close to where the proposed 26 turbines are to be built.
On Monday afternoon, the tribunal resumed hearings at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church on Stella 40 Foot Road. Meetings are to be held on the island on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The hearing was put on hold in late December after several days of hearings in Toronto and Bath in December.
Windlectric Inc. had asked that submissions from seven witnesses supporting the appeal be excluded from the hearing. The tribunal declined that request, prompting the company to advise the community that it would not have witnesses available to respond to the statements in time for the scheduled meetings later in December.
The hearings are being held to consider APAI's appeal of the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change's issuing of a Renewable Energy Approval for the project in late August.
APAI's whole appeal is based on the argument that the wind energy project would cause "serious harm to human health" or "serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment."