The fight against wind turbines in Clearview Township cost area taxpayers nearly $800,000 — and municipalities want it back.
Those were the legal and consulting costs for Collingwood, Clearview Township, and the County of Simcoe in order to take part in the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) appeal of a decision to grant WPD Canada a renewable energy approval (REA) for the Fairview Wind project.
In a decision released in August, the ERT revoked the REA on the basis the proposed turbines were close enough in proximity to the Collingwood Regional Airport and the Clearview Aerodrome that the 500-foot-tall towers posed a serious threat to human health.
The ERT also weighed arguments about the project’s impact on the local population of the little brown bat. Hearing chairs Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins ruled while the impact on the bat could be mitigated, the risk to human health could not.
WPD Canada has stated that the company’s board of directors have decided not to proceed with an appeal of that decision, and will not be moving ahead with what would have been an eight-turbine project.
Debbie Korolnek, the general manager of Engineering, Planning and Environment for the County of Simcoe, said the county spent approximately $240,000 as its share of legal fees, disbursements, and expert witnesses.
Both Korolnek and Town of Collingwood spokesperson Jennett Mays — who stated the town spent $400,000 — said an application for a portion of the costs had been made to the courts.
A date to hear arguments on the cost applications has not yet been set.
Another appellant to the tribunal, Clearview Aerodrome owners Kevin and Gail Elwood, will also be pursuing costs.
Clearview’s bill for the hearing was $150,000. Chief administrative officer Steve Sage said the township will be looking for costs as well.
“It’s unfortunate that the province and this process forced the municipality to contribute such significant resources towards an issue that could have been addressed through proper consultation and deliberation,” stated Clearview Township Mayor Chris Vanderkruys in a news release issued after WPD’s announcement it would not be moving ahead.