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Appeal period passes for Ostrander Point

The County Weekly News,
Bruce Bell,
July 7 2016

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists were finally able to let out a sigh of relief late Wednesday afternoon.

At 5 p.m., the 30-day appeal period for Gilead Power and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change of a June decision not to allow an industrial wind turbine to proceed expired.

On June 6, an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) ruled the installation of gates on access roads for the Ostrander Point wind project wouldn’t adequately protect the population or habitat of Blanding’s turtles.

When the deadline passed, PECFN president Myrna Wood said it was a lengthy and expensive battle and worth every cent, describing it as a David versus Goliath battle, pitting the PECFN’s 60 members against the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and a large oil company-owned business.

“It is particularly wonderful to finally realize that the battle is over and that David has prevailed,” Wood said. “This was a long and hard battle, but totally worth it – important habitat has been conserved and we are very happy.”

In their June 6 decision, ERT members Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright found “the remedies proposed by Ostrander [Gilead] and the Director are not appropriate in the unique circumstances of this case. The Tribunal finds that the appropriate remedy under s.145.2.1 (4) is to revoke the Director’s decision to issue the REA [Renewable Energy Approval]”.

The project would have required the construction of more than five kilometres of access roads to construct and service the nine turbines and as part of the remedy, Gilead had proposed to reduce traffic by installing gates.

The issue has raged on since Gilead Power received their Renewable Energy Approval (REA) in 2012. It was almost immediately appealed by PECFN. Another appeal by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, based on potential harm to humans, was dismissed by the ERT.

PECFN member Cheryl Anderson agreed with Wood and said it has been a busy period for their team.

“In early 2012 Myrna Wood, Pamela Stagg and I started a blog to try to let people know how important the habitat at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block was to migrating birds, bats, and butterflies. We also spent time writing about reptiles and amphibians at risk and the important imperilled alvar habitat. At the same time, Nature Canada, Ontario Nature and PECFN were writing comments to the Environmental Bill of Rights about the proposed project which the government claimed was public input under the Green Energy Act,” she said.

“In spite of all this input the Ministry of the Environment approved a project to install nine turbines and their associated roads and ancillary equipment at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block. Given 15 days to appeal, PECFN moved forward, solid in the knowledge that Ostrander Point was the wrong place for wind turbines.”