The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing hasn’t exactly been a case of slow and steady winning the race to save Ostrander Point from the hare-brained. Because the Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) process does not truly provide access to Justice on environmental issues, it takes buckets of money and a hurried pace to comply with timelines set for the convenience of the proponents and government enablers.
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) mustered their allies and experts to again prove Ontario’s REA process deeply flawed. In the first instance Transport Canada ordered the removal of 8 approved industrial wind turbines, built too close to Chatham Municipal Airport despite in-your-face opposition throughout the farce called “public consultation”.
Per the decision:
“ The Tribunal finds that mortality due to roads, brought by increased vehicle traffic, poachers and predators, directly in the habitat of Blanding’s Turtle, a species that is globally endangered and threatened in Ontario, is serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtle at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block that will not be effectively mitigated by the conditions in the REA.”
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) failed to warn, in “Species at Risk: Progress and the Path Ahead”, that down the slippery slope of the Green Energy Act there would be the current REA conflict-of-interest-morass, where the defenders of Ostrander Point found a phalanx of government and industry experts arrayed against them.
As Ian Hanna reported from the ERT preliminary hearing:
“Most disturbing, however, was the fact that the Ministry of the Environment opposed all individuals and organizations that do not support the project, but it supported the applications of the two individuals who fully support the project. It is an outrage that the Ontario government only recognizes or supports the right to expression for those who agree with them! Indeed, even more alarming, is that it would take a strong position attempting to strip any citizen of this right.”
Sadly the ECO’s comment,
“A chronic problem of the past was reconciling the government’s conflicted role: safeguarding the environment, while also being ultimately responsible for many of the activities that put it in a state of jeopardy.”
in the aforementioned text, is truer today than it has ever been.
Leslie Kaduck posted this comment about the proceedings in Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County vs the Director, Ministry of the Environment:
“What brings tears to my eyes are the comments about Wolfe Island — now accepted to be the worst environmental wind disaster in Ontario. Over and over again in the report, even the proponents make reference to Wolfe Island as having the highest bird mortality rates of any wind installation in North America (even Stantec, ultimately responsible for the Wolfe Island environmental assessment and mitigation program, argued that Ostrander Point would not reach the 14-15 bird per turbine rate of Wolfe Island. And don’t forget that Transalta and the MOE negotiated a monitoring program that effectively hides huge rates of Purple Martin and Swallow fatalities through smaller monitoring sites around turbines…”
Unfortunately the Tribunal optimistically assumes compliance with REA conditions, so regardless of past sins, abatement and curtailment seasonally or with wind speed based on proponent self-monitoring was deemed adequate assurance that no irreparable harm would be done to birds and bats. The mitigation for the Blanding’s Turtle, with their own agenda and terrestrial travel plans, was deemed unlikely to protect them on Crown Land public access roads… a very site and species specific win at that.
Turtles Won, Birds And Bats No Score