The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists will be back in court in December in a final appeal to prevent Gilead Power and the Ministry of Environment from putting wind turbines on important natural habitat at Ostrander Point.
The appeal of a Divisional Court Decision is to be heard Dec. 8-9 at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
PECFN started opposing this plan when it was first announced in 2007,” notes Cheryl Anderson, of the PECFN. “The opposition is based on a strong belief that the South Shore of Prince Edward County is the wrong place for wind turbines. The area is important to migrating birds, bats and butterflies, it contains Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest, provincially significant wetlands, globally imperilled Alvar habitat and is the home and breeding ground of several avian, reptilian and amphibian species at risk. ”
In spring 2013, PECFN participated in an Environmental Review Tribunal appealing the government’s decision to allow Gilead’s development. The ERT panellists agreed that the development should not proceed. The Government and Gilead appealed that decision to the Divisional Court of Ontario.
“That court, unfortunately, agreed with the developer and the Ministry of the Environment,” said Anderson.
PECFN asked for and was granted permission to appeal the Divisional Court ruling to the Appeal Court, the highest Court in Ontario. In addition, a motion to stay any construction until the matter was resolved was granted by the Court.
“This case effects provincial environmental law. As Justice Blair, who granted the stay said, ‘the issues raised on the proposed appeal are issues of broad public implication in the field of environmental law’. In a recent Tribunal decision, Fata vs MOE, the Tribunal declared that it was precluded from finding irreversible harm possible to numerous species of plants and animals if the current state of science cannot determine their population size. “Given that the finding of serious and irreversible harm is a threshold finding under the EPA [Environmental Protection Act], in that the Tribunal may not make any remedial order unless it is met, these species appear to be left without protection… As the Divisional Court ruling in Ostrander is currently the law in Ontario and is binding on the Tribunal.”
Currently PECFN and supporting organizations are in negotiations about allowing intervenors in the Court of Appeal case. The South Shore Conservancy intervened in support of PECFN at the Divisional Court and will ask permission to do so again at the Court of Appeal.
“Mainstream environmental organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation and the American Audubon Society agree that wind turbines are not a “green” option if they destroy significant wildlife habitat,” said Anderson. “We continue to make that argument with others who are considering intervenor status at the Court of Appeal. The Canadian Wind Energy Association, lobbyist for wind corporations and investors, intervened on behalf of Gilead at the Divisional Court and will do so again at the Court of Appeal.”
Funds are still being raised by PECFN to pay legal bills. Visit www.saveostranderpoint.org for more.
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