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PECFN and APPEC are represented by Eric Gillespie and Natalie Smith. The MOE is represented by Sylvia Davis and Sarah Kronkamp. Gilead Power’s case will be argued by Doug Hamilton, Chris Wayland and Sam Rogers of Mc- Carthy Tetrault.
Ostrander Point victory to be tested in appeal court next week
There are many people will be nervously watching developments in a Toronto courtroom beginning next Tuesday. It is here that likely the last chapter of the industrial wind turbines on Ostrander Point is to be written.
HOW WE GOT HERE
In 2009, the Green Energy Act was made law. The sweeping legislation comprised an array of measures designed to ease the development of more renewable energy projects in the province. It reduced or eliminated regulations and processes used by its safeguarding agencies, including the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Energy Board. It replaced several regulatory appeals with one—the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Politicians, such as former MPP Leona Dombrowski, assured anxious rural Ontario residents, communities and their local leaders that the ERT, or Tribunal, would be independent, thorough and their conclusions would be final. Many residents were unsettled by the assurances—viewing the ERT as merely the last checkbox for a developer to tick before being released to plunder the provincial treasure and lay waste to the rural countryside. It was viewed as a cynical contrivance by a government fixated on seeing thousands of industrial wind turbines spinning in the provincial countryside. It would be Premier Dalton McGuinty’s legacy to Ontarians.
To ensure ERT adjudicators weren’t being led astray by sympathetic arguments by those defending their communities, livelihoods and natural environment, the Green Energy Act dictated that the legal test for the ERT would be impossibly high.
To be successful an appeal to this panel would have to prove “serious harm to human health” or in the case of birds, animals and their habitat the requirement is to prove “serious and irreversible harm.”
Late in 2011 the Ministry of Environment issued a Renewable Energy Approval to Gilead Power Corporation, enabling it to proceed with its plan to erect nine industrial wind turbines, each soaring 423 feet into the flight path of the millions of birds that migrate through the region each spring and fall. It granted the approval on Crown Land—essentially industrializing a rugged and largely wild bit of the south shore of Prince Edward County.
Two appeals were made to the province’s ERT.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County presented witnesses who described the damaging effects of living near industrial wind turbines. They presented scientific and medical evidence to support their position that wind turbines were hurting Ontario residents and that no other project should be permitted until a thorough and independent study of the health effects was conducted and shown to be safe.
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists presented expert evidence on the rare and sensitive alvar habitat at Ostrander Point. Evidence showed that a number of endangered species of birds and animals shared this unique ecosystem, and that tipping the balance to industrial development would put the survival of endangered species in peril.
Read the full article here.