A Win for Nature: Ontario Tribunal Rules Against Wind Energy Farm in IBA

Yesterday, a decision from the Ontario Environmental Tribunal overturned a Ministry of Environment decision to build a wind farm in a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA) along the shoreline of eastern Lake Ontario.“This is a huge win for nature” said Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “For the first time, the Environmental Review Tribunal has recognized that wind farms can cause significant and irreversible harm to wildlife, in this case the threatened Blanding’s turtle.”

It’s been over two years since Gilead Power Corporation submitted a proposal to construct a 9-turbine wind energy farm at Ostrander Point, in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Since then, naturalist groups have fought to put an end to the project.

Prince Edward Country Field Naturalists (PECFN), supported by Nature Canada, launched an appeal of the Ministry’s December 20, 2012 approval of the so-called Ostrander Project. At stake were 324 hectares of provincial Crown land in Prince Edward County, home to endangered species like Blanding’s Turtle. As a site of an Important Bird Area, the Crown Land represents a vital place for birds, and poorly placed wind projects such as the one proposed by Gilead Power could harm bird populations already in decline.

In its appeal, PECFN argued that the Ostrander Project would have caused serious and irreversible harm to birds as well as to Blandings turtles. Nature Canada strongly believes that migratory birds such as tree swallows and purple martins as well as species at risk such as eastern whip-poor-wills would have suffered serious and irreversible harm and regrets that the Tribunal did not accept PECFN’s submissions on this point.

“Wind farms simply should not be built in Important Bird Areas, which are designated internationally for their significance to migratory bird species” said Davidson “Nature Canada strongly supports appropriately sited renewable energy projects, but important habitats for migratory birds and species at risk are not appropriate sites. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Eric Gillespie and his legal team did a fantastic job in terms of carrying this fight forward on nature’s behalf”.

For a full background on the issue, including links to videos and photos of the site, please see our Ostrander Point blog posts.

PECFN’s press release on the issue is available here.