Turtle Troubles are Back at the Ostrander Point Wind Farm Site

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In February 2014 an Ontario court ruled that the environmental tribunal, whom reviewed the assessment of threats to the Blanding’s turtle population at Ostrander Point, made a mistake when it rejected a proposed wind farm that threatens the habitat of Blanding’s turtles.

So what does that mean? Well the Ostrander Point Blanding’s turtle is in trouble again and it looks like Gilead Power Corp. is ensuring its plan for a wind farm is pushing forward. The wind farm is unique as would be the first built on 100% Crown Land, but also is thought of by many environmental and biological experts as an immediate threat to the Species at Risk Blanding’s turtle’s. The south Shore of Prince Edward County has been described by Nature Canada as “a bird super highway, with a major rest stop being Ostrander Point; a rare limestone plain and wetland ecosystem for Blanding’s, birds, bats and monarch butterflies.

Environmental Assessment Officer, Denise Fell said:  “This is one of the most important landfall sites in Ontario.  … Birds are ascending and descending during migrations, whereas normally they migrate over the landscape in a broad front above the typical height of wind turbines.  Since birds on migration in this area can therefore be found at tower height, and are typically very tired and stressed when descending, they may be more at risk of collision with wind turbines.” (source http://www.saveostranderpoint.org/overview-of-issues/)

This site is now at risk because a divisional court panel ruled that the environmental tribunal made six errors of law in reaching its conclusion that the wind farm would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles. For example the divisional court said the tribunal was wrong to make its ruling without a complete evidence of the numbers of Blanding’s turtles in the Ostrander Point area. There’s no accurate count of how many of the reptiles live at Ostrander Point, which covers 324 hectares of land. And thus the court restored the decision by provincial officials to allow Gilead Power Corp. to proceed with the project, which would erect nine big wind turbines on the site.

What the area needs is more time for wildlife surveys! Even if there only a few Blanding’s turtles in the area it’s not right to build green energy to harm healthy green environments.

Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists group, said he has filed a notice with Ontario Court of Appeal. The bad news it the appeal takes time and the Gilead Power Corp plans to start work on the project as soon spring hits.

The appeal itself will be based on several grounds. Gillespie said the court showed “very little deference” to the judgment of the environmental tribunal.

Prince Edward County Field Naturalists update: On Friday, March 7 Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) gave notice to Gilead Power Corp. and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) of its intention to request leave from the Ontario Court of Appeal to appeal the Divisional Court ruling that overturned the Environmental Review Tribunal success.

So what will happen? On March 12, the Appeal Court registrar will receive PECFN’s notice of intention to seek leave to appeal.  Over the next month PECFN will be preparing legal arguments in consultation with other environmental groups.  By mid-May all parties will be submitting their motions to the Appeal Court for consideration.  Three judges of the Appeal Court will then consider whether to allow the appeal.  That consideration could take several weeks.  If and when leave to appeal is given, a court date will be established that, again, will be sometime in the indeterminate future.

Visit the Save Ostrander Point website to learn more.