Toronto – April 20, 2015
The Ontario Court of Appeal has reversed a lower court ruling regarding a Renewal Energy Approval of the 9 turbine Ostrander Point industrial wind project. The decision reinstates the key initial finding of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) that serious and irreversible harm to threatened Blanding’s Turtles will occur if the project operates as approved. “We’re very pleased. The court has ruled in favour of protecting the environment, which is what we’ve asked for throughout“ said Myrna Wood of the successful appellant Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. “The decision is undoubtedly important” said Eric Gillespie, its legal counsel. “This is the first renewable energy case to reach the Court of Appeal. The Court has supported our client’s fundamental concerns and affirmed a number of legal principles that clearly will be relevant to other appeals.” The question of remedy has been directed back to the ERT.
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have finally won their appeal against an industrial wind turbine project at Ostrander Point. The Decision by the Appeal Court of Ontario found that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtle and its habitat.
It also found that Gilead Power and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment did not get a hearing of their proposal for a different remedy and that the Environmental Review Tribunal should hear that proposal. The ‘remedy’ proposed was to put gates on the access roads to stop public traffic. PECFN is more than willing to show the Tribunal how putting gates on the very access roads, which will cause the irreversible harm, is no remedy at all.
This decision shows that with careful thought the Court of Appeal has recognized the serious consequences that would result in the development of Ostrander Point Crown Land Block. The court has referred back to the Environmental Review Tribunal the matter of gates on the turbine access roads, which is described as a remedy to the serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle. The consideration of this matter was not allowed by the Divisional Court.
The decision also shows that even though the structure of the Green Energy Act imposes almost impossible odds against environmental protection, determined people can succeed in making their case heard.
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