Appeal of Environmental Tribunal’s Ostrander decision is happening now!
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment along with the private energy company Gilead Power are having their day in Ontario Divisional Court this week to try and overturn the Ministry’s own Environmental Tribunal’s Rejection of Gilead’s nine turbine wind energy project proposed on the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block on the South Shore of Prince Edward County. The Toronto Star reported on the first day of hearings, which included a small victory for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalist, when the Ministry and Gilead were refused their request to introduce new evidence.
The project was rejected in a 140 page decision in July, 2013, based primarily on its impact on an isolated population of the Endangered Blanding’s Turtle. The tribunal also gave considerable merit to the impact the project would have on migrating birds and the globally rare alvar (limestone pavement) habitat, but did not recognize these are reasons for rejection. Ostrander Point is naturally vegetated public land located on the south shore of Prince Edward County, on the Long Point peninsula. This part of the south shore is a major migratory bird stop-over and and migratory bottleneck, and is within the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA). The area is a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and a historic breeding location of the Endangered Henslow’s Sparrow.
Nature Canada supports the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists in their efforts to defend this extremely important site against industrial development. Nature Canada also supports wind energy development in Canada as one of many measures to reduce green house gas production, and recognizes that most projects do not harm bird populations. However, wind energy should not be built at the cost of biodiversity conservation. The Ostrander project stands out as one of the worst possible locations for a wind energy project. Important Bird Areas and other critical wildlife habitats should be free of all industrial activities, including wind energy projects.