A new wrinkle has emerged in the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing into the development of the 100 MW Dufferin Wind Power (DWP) wind farm with photographic evidence of the presence of the endangered Blanding’s turtle.
Dennis Sanford, a party to the hearing and the head of Wind Resistance of Melancthon, is represented at the tribunal by Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie who, he says, was given the photos and has filed notice of a motion with Tory’s, the Toronto firm representing DWP.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Mr. Sanford said the photos reveal the distinctive markings of the Blanding’s (Emydoidea bandingil) Turtle, although he acknowledged that his group is without professional biological proof that the observed turtle is a Blanding’s.
Although the photos in Mr. Sanford’s possession don’t afford a full view of the turtle’s neck, he said there is enough of a view that the distinctive yellow marking on the neck is visible. As well, he said his group had compared the photos with official ones, and found that the Dufferin turtle had the distinctive domed shell.
He said the turtle was discovered by a member of his group on Sept. 9. The finding follows by about two months an ERT rejection of Gilead Power’s proposed Ostrander Point wind farm in Prince Edward County because of the threat to the habitat of the Blanding’s Turtle there.
If the location and identity of Blanding’s Turtles in Dufferin County are confirmed, Mr. Sanford views it as significant. not only because of the precedent set at Ostrander Point but also as “a glaring omission” in DWP’s studies of wildlife habitat in the vicinity of the proposed wind farm.
“The reports required of Dufferin Wind for their Renewable Energy Approval (REA) application filed with the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) did not include any mention of the threatened species, the Blanding’s Turtle.
“The company has an obligation to study and then report on the wildlife populations in the project area as part of their application. The MOE and the MNR have an obligation to protect our environment, and follow due process.
“This oversight must be corrected in spite of the MOE’s granting of the REA permit, and studies must be completed before construction begins,” Mr. Sanford said in a Wind Resistance news release.
It’s unclear whether the Tribunal would entertain new evidence at this juncture. With the exception of legal evidence with respect to Mr. Sanford’s Charter challenge and written summation arguments based on evidence admitted on health and environmental issues, the hearing has all but wound down.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources website, this threatened species is easily identified:
“The Blanding’s Turtle is a medium-sized turtle easily identified by its bright yellow throat and chin. Unlike most Ontario turtles that have wide, flatter shells, the Blanding’s Turtle has a domed shell that resembles an army helmet. Its shell is black to brown with yellow flecks and streaks and can reach 27 centimetres long. Its head and limbs are black-grey and the bottom shell is rich yellow,” the website says.
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