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A Truly Green Proposal
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A Truly Green Proposal

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by Guest Blogger, Blair Scott.  Prince Edward County has been described as Ontario’s go-to ecotourism destination. Its distinctive soils give life to renowned and award-winning wines! Its high proportion of globally-rare alvar habitat supports an abundance of specially-adapted plants and wildflowers, such as the endangered Four-leaved Milkweed. It is home to a globally-recognized Important Bird Area (IBA), and its Prince Edward Point site has seen a recorded 298 bird species over the years! Furthermore, the south shore contains at least 30 of Ontario’s listed species-at-risk. In sum, it is an excellent candidate for protective environmental status! Located about two hours east from Toronto, ON, Prince Edward County’s south shore is one of few Lake Ontario patches to remain free from disturbance – and this freedom has been the pivotal factor keeping its flourishing biodiversity in-tact. Nestled within its 279.31 square kilometre territory are several sites of integral ecological value:

Click here for a full gallery of critical species-at-risk on Prince Edward County’s south shore!Image of species at risk near PRince Edward County Nature Canada is looking to initiate either a National Wildlife Area (NWA) or a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) on the south shore of Prince Edward County. It is understood that the region’s current IBA-designation does not serve as sufficient protection against industrial developments. Prince Edward County residents were expressly concerned about the detrimental impacts wind turbine development would have on the county’s ecosystem. Specifically, they cited the risks it would pose to the threatened Blanding’s Turtle and the thousands of migratory birds that pass through the area. Their environmentally-conscious determination gave rise to Save the South Shore – a local movement against wind turbine construction on the south shore. Luckily, the concerted efforts of the Board of the Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy, along with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, led to a halt on the project in the spring of 2015. After learning about the Save the South Shore movement, I was left with the content feeling of knowing that there are people out there who care more about preserving what’s left than furthering human development. These residents were not opposed to renewable energy; they simply saw biodiversity and conservation as a more important and necessary priority. Ultimately, they felt that Prince Edward County – with all of its tourist attractions and treasures – was the wrong place for this scale of a project. Nature Canada is adamant that a more official conservation status be made to protect the south shore of Prince Edward County. In doing so, it is hoped that industries will not look to places of high ecological significance to construct their projects – even if alternative, more sustainable endeavours, like green energy, are on their agendas. In the arena of strategic interpretation, vague environmental statuses, like “Important Bird Area,” afford too much wiggle-room. Therefore, it is imperative that Canada ensures land designations match the real value at stake.
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Victorious and Glorious:  Ostrander is saved!
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Victorious and Glorious:  Ostrander is saved!

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption] Nature Canada’s moto with regard to wind energy projects is that they should be about “good ideas in good places.” We recognize that many, perhaps most of the existing projects on the land could be considered in this way. However, for the past 7 years we have opposed a project proposed on the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block in Prince Edward County, considering it as the worst example of project siting that we have seen. Nature Canada staff appeared before the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in 2013 and before the Ontario Appeal Court in 2015 in support of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and in opposition to this egregious project. [caption id="attachment_27995" align="alignright" width="238"]Image of Myrna Wood and Ted Cheskey Figure 1: PECFN President Myrna Wood and Nature Canada's Ted Cheskey stroll through the habitats of Ostrander Point[/caption] From our perspective, the location of this project crossed all of the lines. It was proposed: in the centre of a globally significant Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, within a candidate Life Sciences Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, on globally imperilled alvar habitat, within the habitat for several species at risk including Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Whippoorwill, and within one of the most significant migration corridors for birds of prey including Golden Eagle (a record of 64 reporting on one day alone), landbirds, and migrating bats in Eastern Canada. Heck, the MNR even sponsored a plan to restore habitat for the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow on the property around 2000. Most significant is the fact these lands are owned by the Province of Ontario as a Crown Land Block. We used to consider Crown land blocks as secured conservation land and relatively easy additions to address our huge deficit in protected areas in the south of Ontario. With all of these virtues, any sort of development or industrialization seemed absurd to us and our close partners, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Ontario Nature. Yet the proponent and the Ontario Government fought the ERT’s original decision to reject the project from the Tribunal through the Divisional Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal, before it landed back in the lap of the ERT for sober second thought. Well, after three years of circulating through the court system we can breathe a collective sigh of relief and recognize that there is justice in this world in reading the great news from the Tribunal on their Ostrander Point ERT hearing decision. The Tribunal found that “the remedies proposed by Ostrander [Gilead] and the Director are not appropriate in the unique circumstances of this case.  The Tribunal finds that the appropriate remedy . . . is to revoke the Director’s decision to issue the REA [Renewable energy Approval]”.   [caption id="attachment_27996" align="alignleft" width="107"]Image of Hairy Beard's Tongue Figure 2: Hairy Beard's Tongue in Ostrander Alvar[/caption] There were many significant and unequivocal statements in the decision that send clear messages to everyone involved in these hearings. For example, the Tribunal noted the inconsistency with which the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries (MNRF) has treated these lands – recognizing them as a “candidate” Area of Natural and Scientific Interest” on one hand, while entering into an agreement with the proponent to allow over five kilometres of private roads in prime habitat on the other hand. The Tribunal also noted the relevance in determining “the appropriate remedy that the candidate ANSI has not been evaluated by MNRF to determine if it merits qualification, and any additional protections that would entail; instead, roads will be introduced on this area of Crown land that, in addition to being a candidate Life Sciences ANSI is known critical habitat for species at risk” (many others in addition to Blanding’s Turtle, including a significant population of Eastern Whippoorwill). Most importantly, the decision noted that “although the promotion of renewable energy and its related benefits, and streamlining approvals are important factors in consideration of the public interest, the Tribunal finds that not proceeding with this nine wind turbine Project in this location best serves the general and renewable energy approval purposes in sections 3(1) and 47.2 (1) of the EPA, the public interest under 47.5 and the precautionary principle and ecosystem approach.” Wind energy producers and the Ontario Government need to take notice that there are areas where renewable energy projects are clearly not in the public interest. We call on the provincial government to recognize finally that renewable energy projects are not welcome in critical habitat of species at risk or Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). [caption id="attachment_27999" align="aligncenter" width="567"]Image of a Blandings Turtle Figure 3 Blanding's Turtle at Ostrander Point[/caption]

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Amherst Island Wind Project Decision should be overturned
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Amherst Island Wind Project Decision should be overturned

September 1, 2015 - Owls and eagles, swallows and bats will soon run a deadly gauntlet of wind turbines along eastern Lake Ontario if the Amherst Island, White Pines and Ostrander projects go ahead as proposed say Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, the Kingston Field Naturalists, and American Bird Conservancy. "Ontario’s decision last week to approve Windlectric’s 26-turbine project on Amherst Island—one of the province’s crown jewels of nature—is another in a string of ‘tough on nature’ decisions to build wind energy projects in Important Bird Areas in the region" said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation. "Given Ontario’s failure to consider the cumulative effects of these projects on nature, the Environmental Review Tribunal should overturn the approval of the Amherst Island Project as well as that of White Pines. And given the clear breaches of the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, the federal government should in future apply its environmental assessment process to wind energy projects." “We fear that that the construction of 35 kilometres of roads on Amherst Island will destroy habitat for species at risk like the Blanding’s Turtle,” said Joshua Wise, Ontario Nature’s Greenway Program Manager. “Amherst has the largest breeding population of the at-risk Short-eared Owl in southern Ontario. During the winter, Amherst supports the largest concentration of owl species of anywhere in eastern North America as far as we know. . We are all for green energy, but not at the expense of nature.” “We cannot ignore this decision” said Michael Hutchins, Director of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “The birds and bats that will be killed would be migrating to or from the United States and are a shared resource. They contribute millions of dollars of tourism revenue and ecological services to the U.S., Canada and other countries that may be their winter destinations. There is no regard in this decision for its international implications. We will take a very close look at the spectrum of tools that are available to oppose and overturn this very bad decision.” “The Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) have been opposing the construction of an industrial wind facility on Amherst Island, in part because the number of birds killed per turbine on nearby Wolfe Island is one of the highest in North America. Ospreys, Red-tailed Hawks, Purple Martins and Wilson Snipe have experienced very high mortality rates. The KFN believe that there will be the same or higher levels of mortality on Amherst that will result in the local extinction of these four species and have irreversible impacts on Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks. Our requests for a radar study of bird and bat migration was ignored and the environmental impact of the project was grossly minimized in their EBR,” said Kurt Hennige president of the Kingston Field Naturalists. -30- About Nature Canada Nature Canada is the oldest national nature organization in Canada with 45,000 members and supporters. Nature Canada’s mission is to protect and conserve Canada’s wildlife by working with people and advocating for nature. Nature Canada is Canadian co-partner of BirdLife International. About Ontario Nature Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario. About American Bird Conservancy Established in 1994, American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. ABC’s work has resulted in the establishment of 65 international bird reserves, with over 990,000 acres protected, and 3.5 million trees and shrubs planted to enhance bird habitat. About Kingston Field Naturalists The Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) is a well-established nature club and charitable organization with about 450 members. Its objectives are the preservation of wildlife, natural habitats and the stimulation of people's interest in nature. Media Contacts Stephen Hazell Director of Conservation Nature Canada Tel: 613 562 3447 ext. 240 shazell@naturecanada.ca Joshua Wise Greenway Program Manager Ontario Nature Tel: 416-444-8419 joshuaw@ontarionature.org Michael Hutchins Director of the Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign American Bird Conservancy Tel: 202-888-7485 MHutchins@abcbirds.org Kurt Hennige President Kingston Field Naturalists Tel: 613-876-1804 khennige@xplornet.com

Victory for Nature at Ontario Court of Appeal
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Victory for Nature at Ontario Court of Appeal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2015 (Ottawa, ON) – The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled decisively in favour of nature in upholding an Environmental Review Tribunal decision that the proposed Ostrander wind project will cause serious and irreversible harm to the endangered Blanding’s Turtle. “This is a huge win for nature” said Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada. “The Tribunal’s approach to determining ‘serious and irreversible harm’ was upheld, which means that other proposed wind projects will need to consider impacts on birds and bats as well as turtles much more seriously than they have done previously, especially where proposed wind project road networks fragment habitat for species at risk.” “Nature Canada was pleased to be an intervener at the Court of Appeal hearings in support of the appellants, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN). Congratulations to PECFN for carrying forward this appeal on nature’s behalf” said Hazell. PECFN appealed a decision of a lower court reversing the Tribunal’s decision denying approval of the Ostrander Project, which would have included nine wind turbine generators and supporting facilities on 324 hectares of provincial Crown land in a globally recognized Important Bird Area. The 135 metre high turbine towers would require concrete platforms, 5.4 kilometres of on-site access roads (in addition to the existing roads), underground cabling and overhead distribution lines, and a parking/maintenance yard at the north end, adjacent to a 25 mega-volt-ampere transformer substation for connection to the Hydro One grid. “Wind farms simply should not be built in Important Bird Areas, which are designated internationally for their significance to migratory bird species” said Ted Cheskey, Senior Conservation Manager at Nature Canada. “Nature Canada strongly supports appropriately sited renewable energy projects, but important habitats for migratory birds and species at risk are not appropriate sites.” -30- About Nature Canada Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province. Nature Canada focuses on effecting change on issues of national significance including bird conservation,  citizen science initiatives, urban nature initiatives, building a national network of conservation organizations, building a network of volunteers to care for critical natural habitat sites across Canada and being a voice for nature at the federal level. Media contact Stephen Hazell Director of Conservation and General Counsel 613-724-1908 shazell@naturecanada.ca

Wind Turbines vs. Turtles
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Wind Turbines vs. Turtles

Stephen 242x242 with title This is a guest post from Stephen Hazell, Director of C onservation & General Counsel       Was the Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to reject the nine-turbine Ostrander wind development project in eastern Ontario based on the evidence of harm to the threatened Blanding’s turtle reasonable? This is a key issue that the Ontario Court of Appeal addressed in hearings on December 8 and 9 reviewing a Divisional Court decision that overturned the Tribunal’s decision. Nature Canada decided to intervene in this appeal because this project would be located in a key wetland complex along the shores of eastern Lake Ontario that is home to numerous species at risk, including the threatened Blanding’s Turtle. Ostrander Point is also part of a globally significant Important Bird Area and directly in one of the most important migratory routes for birds in North America (370 bird species!). Nature Canada also intervened because of the terrible (for nature) precedent that the lower court’s decision would set for species at risk across the country. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) have been waging this battle against the Ostrander Project for many years, and nature lovers packed the Toronto court room to hear the lawyers argue. I was one of those lawyers representing Nature Canada. The Tribunal had decided that the Ostrander project will cause “serious and irreversible effects” on the Blanding’s Turtle, but not on birds. The Divisional Court held that the Tribunal had not explained how the evidence dealt with the key legal test of irreversibility, and thus that the Tribunal’s decision was not reasonable. PECFN, which was the appellant before the Court of Appeal, argued that the Tribunal’s decision was reasonable and based on the evidence and that Divisional Court should have deferred to the Tribunal on its determinations of fact. On behalf of Nature Canada, I argued that the Tribunal had based its decision as to the irreversibility of the effects on the Blanding’s Turtle on the alteration to its habitat caused by the 5.2 km network of roads to be built through the various wetlands used by the turtles. Once constructed, the roads would result in increased turtle mortality due to vehicle collisions, poaching and predation by racoons and skunks. Experts at the Tribunal hearings had testified that Blanding’s turtles range widely (up to 6 km) through these wetlands and nest on the gravel road sides, increasing their vulnerability to these road-related impacts. The Tribunal had determined that the existence of the road network “directly in the habitat” of the turtles created irreversible effects that could not be mitigated. The Court of Appeal reserved its decision, which means a wait of several months at least before its decision and reasons are released. Several decisions are possible. Rejection of PECFN’s appeal would mean that the Ostrander project would go forward. Alternatively, the Court of Appeal could allow PECFN’s appeal and either deny the permit for the project, or send the matter back to the Environmental Review Tribunal for reconsideration.

Decision Time in the Appeal Court of Ontario – Nature Canada Intervenes to Save Ostrander Point
Photo by Cris Navarro, photographer for Bioblitz
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Decision Time in the Appeal Court of Ontario – Nature Canada Intervenes to Save Ostrander Point

Our very own Stephen Hazell, MSc LLB., donned his court robes and intervened on behalf of Nature Canada, in support of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists at a hearing in the highest court in Ontario on December 8. This hearing is the third in a battle between a small group of retired old ladies that are the driving force of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, backed by most of the county and Canada’s naturalist community, versus Gilead Corporation, a wind energy developer and the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Environment.
The nine turbine project is proposed on Crown land in the centre of the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area. The area on which the turbines are proposed is also a candidate provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest largely due to the presence of globally rare alvar habitat (a type of naturally occurring limestone pavement with its own communities of rare plants and insects), home to many provincial and federal species at risk including the Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Whip-poor-will, a significant migratory route for 10,000 raptors each fall, including dozens of at-risk Golden Eagles, and within about 10 kilometres of the only Federal Government National Wildlife Area (NWA) designated for its role as a migratory landbird stop-over (Prince Edward Point NWA). The south shore of Prince Edward County is largely an intact natural area used for passive recreation, and the last significant vestige of this type of natural habitat on the entire north shore of Lake Ontario.
In addition to its role as a stop-over for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, the area is also an important stop-over for the threatened Monarch butterfly. For decades, local groups have been attempting to conserve the south shore through land securement. Public lands, such as the Ostrander Crown Land Block, which was, as recently as the year 2000, subject to a restoration plan by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to establish habitat for the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow, were assumed safe from industrial projects. [caption id="attachment_18635" align="alignnone" width="960"]Blandings Turtle Blanding`s Turtle photo by Ted Cheskey[/caption] With all of these attributes and after months of expert testimony and a decision of its own Environmental Tribunal in support of protecting the area, why are the Province and the developer so determined to push this project through the courts and destroy the functional value of this area for wildlife for a few turbines? Could it be that Ostrander Point, if successful, would be a gateway to many more turbines and much larger projects on the peninsula and offshore?
This project puts Nature Canada in a very uncomfortable position, but one that we have no choice to take. We are strong supporters of renewable energy, and we recognize and support dozens of wind energy projects across the country that pose minimal risk to birds and other wildlife. We also recognize that almost everything that we do in our lives has an impact on nature, and some things much more than others. As I write this, I note that Nature Canada is embarking on a major campaign, supported by Environment Canada, to reduce the impact of free-roaming cats – the most significant direct human cause of bird mortality in Canada, as well as collisions with windows and other structures. Wind turbines kill some birds and perhaps more bats, but the numbers are relatively minor compared to many other human-related activities. However, in places that have particularly important ecological functions, such as a migration corridor or habitat for species at risk, or stopover habitat for migrating birds, the negative impacts of industrial wind energy projects far outweigh any benefits. They have no place in these areas and are not in the public interest. Ostrander Point is one of these places that should be protected from industrialization, including any wind energy project.
Our opposition to Gilead’s project began many years ago through our role in BirdLife International’s Important Bird Area program as the national conservation advocate for Canada’s 600 Important Bird Areas. BirdLife International, the global authority on bird conservation, has spoken out against this project, putting the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA on its list of the top 350 most threatened IBAs in the world. Over the past several years, we have come to recognize that Ostrander Point has many other virtues beyond its importance for birds. It really is in the public interest and our responsibility as global citizens to protect places like Ostrander Point from industrial threats and ensure that renewable energy projects are about ‘good ideas in good places.’ I salute those members of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists who clearly do represent the public interest both locally and globally and have demonstrated incredible sacrifice and tenacity in fighting this project. Visit their Save Ostrander Point website to learn more.
Ted Cheskey Senior Manager, Bird Conservation Programs

Deadline to comment on White Pines Wind Farm approaches
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Deadline to comment on White Pines Wind Farm approaches

This Saturday, May 10th, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed White Pines Wind Farm in southern Prince Edward County, Ontario. This expansive wind energy project anticipates 29 turbines, many of which are located in the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area and directly adjacent to Ostrander Point. The proponent has thousands of pages of documents on their website as part of their government application for a Renewable Energy Permit. Nature Canada opposes wind turbines in the IBA. These turbines will damage wetlands and globally rare alvar habitat, and threaten many species including migrating swallows, Purple Martins and raptors, and the at-risk Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Whippoorwill and Blanding’s Turtle. Other elements of the project—those outside the IBA and significant habitat—are more likely to have a minimal impact on wildlife. There are also many other areas in Prince Edward County where turbines could operate without posing a serious risk. We strongly believe that turbines should be kept out of Ontario’s wildlife hotspots. If this is something you feel strongly about, you can voice your opinions using the Ontario government’s Environmental Registry. The Registry is key tool for democratizing the environmental review process. It gives Canadians a unique opportunity to share their views about development projects with the Ministry of the Environment. You can submit your comments to the Ministry here. The deadline to comment on the White Pines project is May 10, 2014. Going forward, we will see the effects of the Ontario government’s recent amendments to the Ontario’s environmental regulations, and how public participation in environmental review will be compromised. Proponents of wind projects no longer require species at risk permits, and without the public permitting process, species at risk reports are now off the public record. For us at Nature Canada, this raises serious concerns about accountability and the public right to participate in decisions that could very well transform our landscapes. With an Ontario election on the horizen, we encourage Ontarians who care about nature to press their candidates on the issue of weakened environmental protections. Together, we can push for environmental standards that will make renewable energy projects like White Pines truly green.

Construction project in critical habitat gets nod from Ontario court, Nature Canada dismayed
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Construction project in critical habitat gets nod from Ontario court, Nature Canada dismayed

February 21, 2014 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada is dismayed at the decision by the Ontario Divisional Court to green light a construction project in an important site for endangered species. The court’s ruling overturns the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to stop a wind energy project in a globally Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The site is located on provincially owned land in Ostrander Point, Prince Edward County. Last year, the tribunal found that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtles, an endangered species. It also had the potential to harm bird and bat populations as well as important natural habitat. For those reasons and others, the Tribunal ruled the project could not continue. Prince Edward Country Field Naturalists (PECFN), supported by Nature Canada, launched the appeal which stopped the project from moving forward. However, this latest ruling sets the bar even higher for citizens’ groups and naturalists seeking to challenge government decisions that pose a threat to species at risk and migratory birds. Nature Canada has long pushed for wind energy projects to be built in areas that make sense rather than in areas that would greatly harm local biodiversity and endangered species. We are extremely disappointed with the court’s decision to overturn the Tribunal’s ruling and go on side with Gilead Power, the developer behind the project. We do, however, applaud the efforts of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, led by President Myrna Wood, who worked tirelessly to protect this critical natural habitat from development. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]

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

Act Now to Save Ostrander Point
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Act Now to Save Ostrander Point

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of an Eastern Whip-poor-will Eastern Whip-poor-will is threatened by the proposed wind energy plant.[/caption] The Appeal of the Ontario Government’s Approval of a Renewable Energy Permit to build a nine turbine industrial wind energy plant within the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block within terrestrial part of the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area is nearing a decision.  Ted Cheskey, Manager of Bird Conservation Programs with Nature Canada testified independently as an expert witness at the request of the PECFN.  Natalie Smith, one of the lawyers working on behalf of the Appellant, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), has provided the following update on the hearing, for which a judgement is scheduled for rendering in July.  We encourage you to generously support the campaign fund of the PECFN by visiting their campaign website. “May 9, 2013 marked the end of a two-month long hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal in a case dealing with an appeal of a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) granted to Gilead Power (the Approval Holder) to construct and operate a 9-wind turbine generator in one of Ontario’s most ecologically sensitive locations - Ostrander Point. Ostrander Point lies in the heart of the South Shore Important Bird Area, is rich in biodiversity, and provides suitable habitat for several species of concern, both resident and migratory. The Appellant, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), called nine witnesses to give expert opinion evidence on “serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment”, the legal threshold that must be satisfied under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act. The Appellant’s experts provided detailed accounts of the manifold negative consequences the Project will have on birds, bats, Blanding’s turtles (a threatened species), Monarch butterflies (a species of special concern), and a rare and globally imperiled ecosystem known as alvar.  The authority responsible for granting the REA, the Director, Ministry of the Environment, called four witnesses to give evidence on the relevant regulatory requirements and how they were ostensibly discharged in the present case. The Approval Holder called four witnesses from Stantec, the consulting company contracted to carry out environmental surveys at the Project Site, and seven expert witnesses to challenge the Appellant’s assertion of serious and irreversible harm that will ensue if the Project goes ahead as approved. At the present time, the Appellant, Director and the Approval Holder are scheduled to make their oral closing submissions on June 6, 2013 at the Sophiasburg Town Hall in Demorestville. Written submissions are also due at this time. In weighing the evidence presented before it, the Tribunal must determine whether the Project will cause, on a balance of probabilities, serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. In other words, the Tribunal must be persuaded that serious and irreversible harm is more likely to occur than not as a result of the Project (known as the civil standard of proof). The Tribunal must render a decision on or before July 3, 2013. The Parties, as well as many concerned members of the public, will be in eager anticipation of the outcome, an outcome that will be legally precedent setting due to the novel nature of the case." *Please note that the above account of events was provided by Natalie at the end of May 2013. Since then, new events have unfolded. We aim to provide an update on this issue in the coming weeks.

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