Giving developers the right to “pillage” Ontario
Here from today’s edition of The Wellington Times, publisher Rick Conroy’s analysis of the appeals of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision on the Ostrander Point wind power project.
Both the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and wind energy developer Gilead Power Corporation have concluded they can’t live with an environmental review tribunal decision last month to revoke the approval of a nine-turbine project on Crown land at Ostrander Point. Both the MOE and the developer have decided to appeal the Tribunal decision that stopped the development in its tracks to the Ontario Superior Court.
The Tribunal had been persuaded the risks to the Blanding’s turtle that nest on this project site were too great and that mitigation measures were likely insufficient and in any event untested and unproven. And given the Blanding’s turtle is an endangered species, the network of roads needed to service the turbines posed too great a threat to the species in the Tribunal’s view.
It is the first renewable energy approval overturned by a review tribunal. The stakes were high for the developer, the Ministry of Environment, the appellants, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) and, of course the Blanding’s turtle.
The notice of appeal came at the deadline of August 2.
Both Cheryl Anderson of PECFN, and Henri Garand of APPEC had expected an appeal.
The developer is fighting to keep his project alive while the MOE is scrambling to ensure a turtle doesn’t derail the green energy ambitions of the governing Liberals.
Many had expected Gilead to appeal—but far fewer expected the MOE to pile on. After all, this was their review process, their rules and their playing field. When McGuinty’s Liberals removed many of the regulatory hurdles for wind and solar energy developers in the Green Energy Act—that same government devised the Renewable Energy Approvals process and the Environmental Review Tribunal. They promised this replacement process would listen to, and take into account, concerns raised by experts or the general public.
Now the MOE is claiming in its appeal that Tribunal members Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs, erred in law, in part because there is nothing “genetically unique” about the turtles that live at Ostrander Point. The MOE says Wright and Gibbs looked too narrowly at the fate of the turtles on the project site—that it should have considered the fate of the turtle on a province-wide basis….
Read more here.