Media Release — PECFN wins at the Ontario Court of Appeal
For immediate release
April 20, 2015
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have finally won their appeal against an industrial wind turbine project at Ostrander Point. The Decision by the Appeal Court of Ontario found that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtle and its habitat.
It also found that Gilead Power and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment did not get a hearing of their proposal for a different remedy and that the Environmental Review Tribunal should hear that proposal. The ‘remedy’ proposed was to put gates on the access roads to stop public traffic. PECFN is more than willing to show the Tribunal how putting gates on the very access roads, which will cause the irreversible harm, is no remedy at all.
This decision shows that with careful thought the Court of Appeal has recognized the serious consequences that would result in the development of Ostrander Point Crown Land Block. The court has referred back to the Environmental Review Tribunal the matter of gates on the turbine access roads, which is described as a remedy to the serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle. The consideration of this matter was not allowed by the Divisional Court.
The decision also shows that even though the structure of the Green Energy Act imposes almost impossible odds against environmental protection, determined people can succeed in making their case heard.
In 2008, Environment Canada warned against wind turbine development at Ostrander Point. The site was given the rating of “very high sensitivity” to turbine development following the schedules in A Guidance Document: Wind Turbines and Birds. Environment Canada V.8.2 p.21 Feb. 2007. Environmental Assessment Officer Denise Fell recommended against the development because “This is one of the most important landfall sites in Ontario. Unique about this particular site is that birds are ascending and descending during migration, whereas normally they migrate over the landscape in a broad front above the typical height of wind turbines. Since birds on migration in this area can therefore be found at tower height, and are typically very tired and stressed when descending, they may be more at risk of collision with wind turbines.”
Nevertheless the Ontario Ministry of the Environment following the dictates of the flawed legislation known as the Green Energy Act approved a turbine development by Gilead Power in this unique and environmentally important Crown Land Block on the South Shore of Prince Edward County. The act removes the right of any municipality to control wind turbine or solar development in their municipality. Subsequently, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), a local, volunteer organization, appealed the Ministry decision to approve the Ostrander Point Industrial Wind Turbine project. The case before the Environmental Review Tribunal was based on serious and irreversible harm to plant life animal life and the natural environment at Ostrander Point.
Environmental organizations that supported the Field Naturalists position:
- Ontario Nature
- Nature Canada
- Bird Life International
- Audubon Society
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,
- Suzuki Foundation
Reasons for opposing development at Ostrander Point:
- major migratory pathway for birds, bats and butterflies,
- home of several endangered species notably the Blanding’s Turtle and the Eastern Whip-poor-will
- globally imperilled Alvar habitat
- Provincially significant wetlands.
In December 2014, (seven years from the start of this fight) after winning at the Tribunal level and losing Gilead’s appeal to the Divisional Court, PECFN was back in Court again at the Appeal Court of Ontario. The lawyers battled it out for two days and now we have the appeal Court’s decision.
The fight to Save Ostrander Point and the legal costs entailed have been supported by donations from people all over Canada. Concerned and conscientious individuals have sent messages of support and joined in petitions and letters to elected representative. The members of PECFN are grateful and humbled by the support and pledge to continue to stand up for the environment, endangered species and important habitat.
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