Turtles Topple Turbines

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Country Live:  Posted June 6, 2016

The County’s Blandings turtles, and nature in general, are victorious in the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ more than six-year battle to protect the south shore of Prince Edward County.

The Environmental Review Tribunal in the Ostrander Point industrial wind turbine hearing has decided “remedies proposed by Gilead Power Corporation and the Director (MOEE) are not appropriate” and has revoked the Renewable Energy Approval for the nine turbine project.

“The tribunal decision says that no matter how important renewable energy is to our future it does not automatically override the public interest in protecting against other environmental harm such as the habitat of species at risk,” says Myrna Wood, president of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. “This was the basis of PECFN’s appeal. This decision not only protects the Blanding’s turtle but also the staging area for millions of migrating birds and bats and the Monarch butterflies.”

In their decision, ERT vice-chairs Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright state “The Tribunal finds that to proceed with the project, when it will cause serious and irreversible harm to animal life, a species at risk and its habitat, is not consistent with the general and renewable energy approval purposes of the Environmental Protection Act, protection and conservation of the natural environment and protection and conservation of the environment, nor does it serve the public interest.

“In this particular case, preventing such harm outweighs the policy of promoting renewable energy through this nine wind turbine project in this location.”

They also state the project would be located entirely within a Candidate Life Sciences Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), which extends from Prince Edward Point to, approximately, Petticoat Point, and is roughly 2,000 hectares. “According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, it is a “candidate” ANSI due to “the combination of size, extent of shoreline, known species diversity and special features that make this site unique in the site district.”

“The tribunal decision reminds the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change of its ‘Statement of Environmental Values’ that “As our understanding of the way the natural world works and how our actions affect it is often incomplete, [government] staff should exercise caution and special concern for natural values in the face of such uncertainty,” said Woods.

The Naturalists began their opposition in 2007 believing the south shore of the County “is the wrong place for wind turbines” – an important area to migrating birds, to bats and butterflies. It contains areas of natural and scientific interest, provincially significant wetlands, globally imperilled Alvar habitat and is the home and breeding grounds of avian, reptilian and amphibian species at risk.

“It’s been a long awaited decision and represents the efforts and determination of PECFN’s quest to protect the environment,” said Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff. “Congratulations to them. It further solidifies what everyone has been saying that the south shore of PEC is not a suitable location for industrial wind turbines.”

Todd Smith, Prince Edward Hastings MPP has also long campaigned that the south shore of Prince Edward County is the wrong place for wind turbines.

“It has taken a lot of time, money and effort to finally get to this point. My hope is that the Liberal government will actually listen to its own Environmental Review Tribunal that has ruled the south shore is a terrible location and that damage to the local environment outweighs any possible good that a wind turbine project could achieve,” said Smith. “Hopefully, this is the end of the Gilead proposal at Ostrander Point…Ultimately, this was not and is not, about the viability of wind power. This is about protecting the ecosystem of the South Shore of Prince Edward County. On that score, science and biodiversity won the day… The County is best served by being naturally green.”

Decisions with the White Pines project, also on the south shore, and the project at Amherst Island are still to be made.

READ AT: http://countylive.ca/blog/?p=60865

TRIBUNAL DECISION: http://www.ert.gov.on.ca/english/decisions/index.htm

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