BELLEVILLE, Ontario – An Ontario Divisional court has ruled against a decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal that stopped the nine-turbine wind development in Prince Edward County.
The court met for three days in Toronto at the end of January and delivered its 40-page report on the Ostrander Point project Thursday.
The tribunal ruled last year the wind farm “would ruin” the habitat of the endangered blandings turtle.
However, the Ontario Divisional court panel overruled that decision this week, saying the tribunal had made “several” errors in law when it made its decision and had not provided “solid” evidence regarding wildlife populations.
Gord Gibbins, chairman of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County – a group that promotes awareness of the impacts of industrial wind energy on the area’s environment, economy and quality of life – said he hasn’t had a chance yet to review the decision.
“It is the mandate of APPEC to help preserve the unique historical, cultural, agricultural and rural character of the County and the natural beauty of its landscape and hence will continue to fight all negative aspects of industrial wind turbines,” he said.
Members have 30 days to decide whether they will move forward with an appeal.
“It’s not surprising that we are disappointed and need to read the decision carefully before deciding what to do,” Cheryl Anderson of Prince Edward County Field Naturalists said.
Both the APPEC and PECFN will be consulting with Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie over the weekend.
“There is an opportunity to ask for the Ontario Court of Appeal to review the case, but we still have to go through the decision prior to that,” said Gillespie.
Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith said the decision shows that the cards are stacked when it comes to the hotly-debated issue.
“This is a project on Crown land. The government can pull the plug on it whenever they want. I can’t believe that they would use taxpayer dollars to fight the people of Prince Edward County in court after their democratically elected municipal representatives have passed multiple resolutions saying they oppose the project,” the Progressive Conservative member said in a press release.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said in the past she’ll listen to local concerns but, but Smith said she only listens to what she wants to hear.
On behalf of Gilead Power president Mike Lord, Kevin Lennon said the firm behind the Ostrander Point project is “very pleased” with the outcome.
Gilead Power plans to begin construction in mid-October of this year with a view to commence operation in May of 2015.
“Gilead has always been committed to ensuring Ostrander Point is a model of responsible wind energy development,” said Lennon.
“We have been working on this project since 2006 and conducted thorough studies over four years and clearly understand the environmental features of the site.”
This marks the second wind farm victory this week.
On Thursday, the K2 Wind Power Project north of Goderich – the largest planned wind farm in Ontario – was given the green light by the Environmental Review Tribunal.