- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Tribunal allows PECFN appeal, revokes approval of Ostrander project

Slow but sure and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists win – with thanks to the endangered Blanding’s turtle. The Environmental Review Tribunal has allowed the appeal of the Ostrander Point Project by PECFN on grounds of serious and irreversible harm to the natural environment, and has revoked the approval of the project by the Director, Ministry of the Environment.

Lawyer Eric Gillespie represented the PECFN and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC). The two citizen-based groups, on Jan. 4, 2013 – appealed the Ministry of the Environment’s approval of Gilead Power’s nine turbine Ostrander Point industrial wind project. The approval of the project by the MOE came under fire as it was issued Dec. 20, 2012 – just before the Christmas holidays.

The tribunal decision was announced Wednesday after 40 days, 185 exhibits and testimony of 31 expert witnesses appeared before the panel of lawyers Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs in Demorestville and Toronto.

The tribunal concluded “that engaging in the project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. This is on the basis of findings that such harm will be caused to Blanding’s turtle.”

The PECFN appeal hearing took place over 24 hearing days and the APPEC appeal hearing took 16 days. The tribunal heard from nine witnesses for PECFN, 15 for  APPEC, 10 for the Director and 13 for the approval holder.

The two citizens’ groups submissions had to prove the project will cause serious harm to human health, or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.

The tribunal concluded APPEC did not meet the first branch of the test regarding harm to human health “because no causal link has been established between wind turbines and human heath effects at the 550m setback distance required under this renewable energy approval.”

PECFN argued the Crown land on the south shore of Prince Edward County “is a highly sensitive ecological area and the wrong location for a wind farm because it is particularly susceptible to serious and irreversible harm, and that as Crown land, it ‘is a resource that belongs to all Ontarians.’ PECFN submitted that if wind turbines can be erected in this location, then they can be erected anywhere in Ontario. PECFN further submitted that the proposed “mitigation technologies are untested, unproven and unreliable.”

From the Summary of Findings:
Issue No. 1: Whether engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health.
[627] The evidence in this proceeding did not establish a causal link between wind turbines and either direct or indirect harm to human health at the 550 m set-back distance required under this REA.
[628] The evidence in this hearing did not establish that engaging in the Ostrander Point wind turbine project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health.
[629] For these reasons the Tribunal finds that the Appellant has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health, and dismisses APPEC’s appeal.

Issue No. 2: Whether engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.
Sub-issue 1: animal life
[630] The Tribunal finds that mortality due to roads, brought by increased vehicle traffic, poachers and predators, directly in the habitat of Blanding’s turtle, a species that is globally endangered and threatened in Ontario, is serious and irreversible harm to
Blanding’s turtle at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block that will not be effectively mitigated by the conditions in the REA.
[631] The Tribunal finds that the appellant has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to birds or their habitat.
[632] The Tribunal concludes that PECFN has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to bats.
[633] The Tribunal finds that PECFN has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to Monarch butterflies.
Sub-issue 2: plant life
[634] The Tribunal finds that PECFN has not shown that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA, (i.e., including the minimum mitigation measures outlined in s. I17 of the REA that must be included in a future ARMP), will cause serious and irreversible harm to alvar plants or the alvar ecosystem at the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block.

Click here for the full, 140-page report