Power developer claims no turtles were seen in its environmental assessment; experts and 30 citizens to testify with logs of turtle observations
The Whig-Standard, January 28, 2016
STELLA — Approximately 30 residents of Amherst Island will get to testify before the Environmental Review Tribunal about the presence of endangered Blanding’s turtles on the island.
In a conference call Wednesday, the tribunal rejected an attempt from lawyers for Windlectric Inc. to have the witness statements excluded from the proceedings.
Instead, the residents are to be presented during three days of hearings on the island next week.
Algonquin Power’s subsidiary Windlectric Inc. is proposing to build about 26 wind turbines on the island. The company’s lawyers had argued that the citizens’ statements about seeing Blanding’s turtles on the island had been falsified and photographs of the turtles were staged.
“It is important for us and we are happy that the tribunal recognized that, in fairness, that if Windlectric is allowed, through their expert, to say that people on the island are lying to oppose the project, well, we’re really, really happy that the tribunal recognized the fairness, or unfairness of that procedure,” said Michele Le Lay, spokesperson for the Association to Protect Amherst Island.
In a 2013 species at risk report prepared for Windlectric, Stantec Consulting Ltd. stated there are no Blanding’s turtles on Amherst Island.
“Over the course of all field surveys, no observations of either Blanding’s turtle or eastern musk turtle were made,” the report stated.
The opposing sides are to talk by telephone on Thursday to decide how the 30 residents could testify in three days of hearings in a manner that is fair to both sides.
Evidence that Blanding’s turtles live on the island could be critical to the project’s opponents.
Read the full story by Elliot Ferguson here.