PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – An Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) has upheld the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County’s motion for a stay to stop vegetation clearing for a wind turbine development near the shores of Lake Ontario – at least in part.
On Monday, the ERT ruled vegetation clearing for the wpd Canada’s 27-turbine development will cause irreparable harm to the Blanding’s turtle.
In its latest decision, the ERT noted, “the Approval Holder’s vegetation clearing and site preparation activities in spring foraging habitat in the specific locations proposed for work in the spring of 2016 will cause irreparable harm to Blanding’s turtles.”
On March 22, the ERT ruled wpd Canada could proceed with site preparation despite its previous ruling the project would cause serious and irreversible damage to Blanding’s turtles and Little Brown Bats. At that time, the ERT provided APPEC with no explanation or reasons why it ruled against the motion of stay to delay site work.
A week later an Ontario Divisional Court judge dismissed another appeal by the group to have work delayed until the ERT provides reasons for its March 22 decision.
After a turtle was spotted out of hibernation a month earlier than normal, the group filed a motion of stay at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto on April 6, but withdrew it when it was determined the appeal required a panel of three judges to rule, not the solo judge who attended the Osgoode Hall courtroom.
APPEC legal counsel was back in front of the ERT two days later and were successful in having work halted.
Two days later, the ERT ordered the clearing to stop.
APPEC president Orville Walsh said the decision doesn’t address a number of issues.
“While the tribunal has put a stop to vegetation-clearing in the spring foraging habitat of these turtles it is silent with respect to the potential destruction of other types of habitat that are also critical to Blanding’s turtles, including their over-wintering habitat and oviposition habitat,” he stated in a release. “The decision does not bode well for these turtles which, as we know, use many types of habitats across the White Pines project site and depend on all of them for their survival.
“For this reason we are disappointed. We can only conclude that the tribunal has an incomplete understanding of significant habitat and the importance of protecting all significant habitat, not merely one specific type.
Walsh said the board is discussing the implications of the decision with legal counsel and giving careful consideration to next steps.
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