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Naturalists celebrate lapse of 30-day period to appeal decision to revoke REA for nine-turbine project

County Live,
July 6 2016

A 30-day countdown of watching for a notice of appeal to the most recent Environmental Review Tribunal decision has ended in a sigh of relief for Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.

On June 6 in the Ostrander Point hearing ERT members Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright found the remedies proposed by Ostrander (Gilead) and the Director (MOECC) were not appropriate and the Director’s decision to issue the Renewable Energy Approval was revoked.

Following the decision both the Director (Minister of Environment and Climate Change) and Gilead Power had 30 days to appeal to the Divisional Court, based on legal errors in the decision.

“As of 5pm today no notice has come of that request to appeal,” said Cheryl Anderson, of PECFN. “In early 2012 Myrna Wood, Pamela Stagg and I started a blog on Countylive 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. “All organizations pointed out the importance of this site to migrating birds, bats, monarchs and species at risk such as the Whip-poor-will and the Blanding’s Turtle.”

In spite of the input the Ministry of the Environment approved a project on December 20, 2012 to install nine turbines, 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,” said Anderson. “This action has been described as a David versus Goliath battle. PECFN, a rural organization of about 60 members was up 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.”

“This was a long and hard battle, but totally worth it – important habitat has been conserved and we are very happy,” said Myrna Wood, of PECFN.

Meanwhile, a final decision on the 27 industrial wind turbine project by White Pines has not been made. That ERT ruled in February that the project would harm the Blanding’s turtle and Little Brown Bat but did not revoke the REA, pending a hearing to consider remedies.

The tribunal has noted it will allow new evidence on remedies, by both sides, and written submissions are due by the end of this month. Hearing days are expected to take place in August.