The Blanding’s Turtle has assumed an exalted place in Prince Edward County this morning. On Thursday the Environmental Review Tribunal that heard the appeal to the industrial wind project at Ostrander Point, ruled that the roads systems and construction would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle and that the proposed mitigation plans were insufficient to protect the endangered species.
The decision nullifies the Ministry of Environment approval of the project. It and the developer, Gilead Power Corporation, have thirty days to appeal the decision. But according to those familiar with these quasi-judicial panels—any further appeal must be based on errors or omissions made by the tribunal.
As those who observed the many weeks of testimony will attest, the panel of Robert Wright and Heather Gibb made extensive effort to ensure that both sides, and the Ministry of Environment were heard and the matter adjudicated fairly within the prescribed timeline.
The Minister of Environment may overrule the panel—but that is seen as a unlikely option. Every nature group around the world would heap scorn upon a government that would reverse a decision to protect an endangered species. Just as problematic is the upheaval such second guessing of an appointed tribunal would cause in the administrative ranks of provincial policy.
For now the champagne remains on ice for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. They celebrated victory last night observing chimney swifts in Picton.
We were all out last night counting chimney swifts, cheering, and slapping each other on the back,” said Myrna Wood, of PECFN. “Then we all went out for a beer afterward to celebrate.”
“Of course we are just ecstatic,” said Wood. “We were astonished with the speed with which the ruling was delivered. We weren’t surprised by the finding because we figured the Environmental Review Tribunal would agree that this is no place for development.”
“We knew the facts about the site its place for providing wildlife habitat for all species of all different kinds would lead the Tribunal to the same conclusions,” said Wood. “We felt we had right on our side.”
While confident about the outcome—PECFN has struggled to raise the necessary funds for the appeal. Since news broke donations have begun to rise but Wood says more is needed.
“Eric and Nathalie Smith have done such terrific work and we must repay them,” said Wood. “That is why we are still on fundraising. We need another $50,000 for sure. People can donate online at saveostranderpoint.org.”
More to come.
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