Divisional Court January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014 admin Latest Posts

by Cheryl Anderson

This report only deals with the first part of the day today. The PECFN counter appeals and cross appeals and the intervener South Shore Conservancy was completed in the late morning and the afternoon was devoted to the APPEC appeal. Your PECFN contingent wended their weary way home after lunch.

Chris Paliere, legal representative for the SSC spoke first. Mr. Paliere gave a succinct and direct analysis of the legal issues SSC has with the ERT ruling. Pointing out that in order for the endangered species permit to be granted expertise should be expected from the MNR. Mr Paliere asserted that there was no evidence that the permit granting was anything more than a paper process. The Tribunal had the expertise to interpret broad undefined terms in the Green Energy Act and the Renewable Energy Approval. The Tribunal therefore was correct in only considering that the ESA permit was in effect. Therefore the conclusions reached by the Tribunal must be accepted.

This argument was countered by Mr. Wayland (correct spelling this time) and Mr. Hamilton for Gilead. The arguments centre on whether the ESA permit to kill harm and harass supersedes the Renewable Energy Approval of the project.

In other words, the ERT cannot deny the project because the ESA permit is in place – and since the MNR has given permission to kill harm and harass endangered species then the ERT cannot find serious and irreversible harm to a species. Mr. Paliere was adamant that there are two separate issues and that the situation amounted to “poly-centric decision making”.

The PECFN cross appeal dealing with our contention that the ERT did not properly consider the evidence showing serious and irreversible harm to the Birds and Alvar was begun by Natalie Smith, who presented the facts in the case.  Eric Gillespie carried on with the legal arguments. There was a discussion started by Justice Nordheimer regarding  the damage done to Alvar by the Department of National Defence use of the areas of the South Shore in the early 1950’s for munitions testing. Eric’s assertion that the DND damage was minimal was countered by both Sylvia Davis for the MOE and Mr. Wayland for Gilead. They were trying to say that the damage by the munitions testing was in some way analogous to the damage that would be caused by wind turbines and roads. Following from the argument was the assumption that when the IWT’s were removed after twenty years the Alvar would regenerate similar to the regeneration after the munitions testing.

According to Eric’s submission, “in dealing with the issue of birds the Tribunal failed to provide an interpretation of scale”. In other words if there are many birds of a species that is abundant on the site then chances are that there will not be serious and irreversible harm to that species. However, if there is a bird or a few birds of an endangered species on the site then the chances of severe and irreversible harm to that species become greater. The Tribunal ruled, in spite of excellent witness testimony to the contrary, that PECFN did not prove serious and irreversible harm to birds as a result of the IWT project. Eric’s submission was that if the Tribunal had taken “scale” into consideration their decision would have been to deny the project on that basis.

As you can see these legal arguments can become complicated and sometimes are really best left to legal minds to interpret. Suffice it to say that Eric and Natalie were pleased at the end of the day with the way their arguments were received by the Court.

We will have to wait to see if the Divisional Court will let the ERT ruling re: Blanding’s Turtles stand and if they will reverse the ERT ruling on the Birds and Alvar as requested by PECFN.

Thank you as always for your continuing support as we fight to save Ostrander Point.

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