Opponents of a proposed wind turbine project on Amherst Island are buoyed by the successful appeal of a similar proposal in Prince Edward County.
Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP had proposed to build nine turbines on the Lake Ontario shore south of South Bay.
But on Wednesday evening, the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal upheld one of two appeals of the Ostrander Point wind energy project.
“We’re delighted with the win, if you want to call it that,” said Peter Large, president of the Association to Protect Amherst Island.
“We’re very pleased to see that it is possible to win these cases.”
Algonquin Power seeks to build between 31 and 37 industrial wind turbines on Amherst Island.
The tribunal declared that the Ostrander Point project posed serious risks to wildlife, specifically Blanding’s turtles, and rejected proposals to mitigate damage to turtles and their habitat.
“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,” the tribunal stated.
The appeal was filed by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.
Another appeal from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County that was based on a submission of harm to human health was dismissed.
“I was thrilled with the decision, as were 90% of the residents of Amherst Island,” said island resident Brian Little.
“It was very gratifying to see the tribunal take off their green energy blinders and recognize the damage that these wind turbines are doing to our wildlife.”
Little pointed out that like Ostrander Point, Amherst Island is also home to Blanding’s turtles.
“It is ironic that with all the bird kills happening on Wolfe Island and other turbine sites, that it is a handful of turtles that swayed their decision.”
Large agreed that the same logic that supported the successful appeal might also apply to Amherst Island.
According to the Association to Protect Amherst Island, 33 species at risk have been documented on the island, including Blanding’s turtles.
“Proponents will attempt to show they can mitigate damage,” Large said.
“That would not be possible on Amherst Island. We’re an island, it’s not possible to move a threatened species at risk to another place.”
The association said the island has 400 hectares of provincially significant coastal wetland.
Large said the proposed positioning of the wind turbines in the middle of fields and pastures on Amherst Island would be particularly threatening to the 24 bird species that either breed or use habitat on the island.
Large said the tribunal’s ruling, along with calls from Premier Kathleen Wynne for additional study into the impact of wind energy, has him cautiously optimistic that there might be a shift in the attitude the provincial government has toward opponents of wind turbine projects.
– with files from QMI Agency
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