Blockages jeopardize entire green hydrogen project, World Energy GH2 says in court

A group of local residents opposed to a wind energy project proposed for the Port au Port Peninsula began blocking access to a test site on the mainland almost a month ago.  (Troy Turner/CBC - photo credit)

A group of local residents opposed to a wind energy project proposed for the Port au Port Peninsula began blocking access to a test site on the mainland almost a month ago. (Troy Turner/CBC – photo credit)

The company, which is behind a major planned green hydrogen initiative on Newfoundland’s west coast, says blockages on the Port au Port Peninsula “pose a serious threat to the viability of the project as a whole.”

World Energy GH2 filed a motion Thursday in the Newfoundland and Labrador Superior Court in Corner Brook seeking an injunction against protesters who obstructed access to the company’s wind test sites.

Judge George Murphy granted the restraining order on Friday afternoon.

But the protesters vow to continue their fight.

In an affidavit, World Energy GH2 CEO Sean Leet said the delay caused by the company’s inability to access its construction sites halted construction during one of the most critical data collection windows.

The company says wind measurement data is “vital” in determining the type of wind turbine generators needed as demand for these generators increases worldwide.

World Energy GH2 aims to build giant wind farms and produce green hydrogen in the Stephenville-Port au Port area from 2025.

“If WEGH2 is not able to resume full operations immediately, the viability of the entire project is at risk,” Leet noted in his affidavit.

Mark Quinn/CBC

Mark Quinn/CBC

In court documents, the company described the situation as an “urgent and untenable situation.”

World Energy GH2 said it went to court “in a spirit of last resort” to “stop illegal blockades and bring the situation back under control in general.”

The matter is due to be heard back in court next Thursday after the judge’s order was served on the protesters.

The protesters say they will not give up the fight

Sheila Hinks is one of the protesters named in the company’s court filing.

“We keep World Energy GH2 out of here,” Hinks said in an interview at the blockade site early Friday afternoon.

“There is no work here.”

Hinks said she learned about the court filing Thursday night by watching CBC News and was surprised to be singled out in person.

She said the protesters would not back down.

“I guess they’re going to put me in jail,” Hinks said. “Because I will not give up this fight. This group of people behind me are not giving up this fight.”

Troy Turner/CBC

Troy Turner/CBC

A group of protesters began blocking an access road to the mainland wind power test site last month, raising concerns about their additional water supply, among other issues.

“We don’t want the windmills on the Port au Port Peninsula,” Hinks said.

Timothy Collier, who owns a hydroponic greenhouse business on the mainland and plans to settle back in his hometown after completing his medical training, said using the police to break up the blockade was a bad idea.

“I think it will wipe out what little support they left on the peninsula,” he said.

“Not just their critics, but also their supporters. I think it will put a very sour taste in their mouths.”

The judge’s order directs the police to enforce the restraining order

In court filings, World Energy GH2 says the protesters’ actions have cost it $500,000 so far.

The company says its equipment was damaged.

And while World Energy GH2 acknowledges it has no evidence as to who is responsible, the company says its inability to enter the site “created the possibility of this equipment being destroyed.”

In his affidavit, Leet says they provided the Mounties with daily updates, but the RCMP’s response “was limited to keeping the peace and not removing parked vehicles from the access road or facilitating site access.”

The court order directs the police to enforce the terms of the restraining order.

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