Ostrander Pt appeal: Ministry of Environment will do anything to help wind biz
Here from Rick Conroy of the independent Wellington Times, his wrap of the appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision to rescind approval of a wind power project on Ostrander Point.
To harm, harass and kill
Appeal hearing considers who shall condemn endangered species in the name of green energy
By the time Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright concluded that the risk, posed by a proposed industrial wind project at Ostrander Point upon the Blanding’s turtle, was simply too great, and the damage likely permanent, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT or Tribunal) panel had heard more than 40 days of testimony. More than 188 exhibits had been entered into evidence. Their decision ran 140 pages.
That decision, to revoke the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) granted to Gilead Power by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), rocked the wind energy sector in this country. It sent government bureaucrats scurrying for cover.
If the fate of a turtle could block the development of an industrial wind project—the precedent could be a formidable roadblock to similar projects across the province and Canada. There are other turtles and endangered species that deserve the protection this panel afforded the Blanding’s turtle of Ostrander Point. The implications are profound.
Wright and Gibbs must have known their words, their actions, and their decision would be attacked, pulled apart and recast as naïve or simply mistaken.
An appeal to the Ontario Superior Court was the only door left open to the developer, Gilead Power Corporation, the wind energy lobby and their large team of lawyers.
So it was that the latest battle, played out in a courtroom over three days last week at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, was fought over what Wright and Gibbs said. What they wrote. What they did. And what they didn’t do.
Did Wright and Gibbs make an error in law? Or procedure? This was the narrow lens with which the three justices—Maria Linhares de Sousa, Ian Nordheimer and Kevin Whitaker—heard arguments in courtroom number three last week.
NEW EVIDENCE DENIED
Even before the appeal began, the developer’s attorneys attempted to change the ground rules by urging the justices to hear new evidence. The talented and able lawyers from McCarthy Tetrault argued that their client, in the intervening months since the Wright and Gibbs had delivered their decision, had undertaken steps it believed would address the Tribunal’s concerns.
Their argument failed to persuade the appeal court. The justices refused to widen its scope beyond whether or not the Tribunal had conducted themselves correctly and in accordance with the rules by which they are governed.
Courtroom 3 is located on the west side of the ornate and grandly decorated centre square of Osgoode Hall. Ceilings soar to about 40 feet. The length and width are only a few feet greater—forming a giant cube. The three justices, cloaked in floor-length robes are perched upon a raised platform before a thick hewnwood bench. The only marker of the current century is the laptop computer each judge keeps before them—though scarcely used.
Arrayed below them are rows of lawyers. Eric Gillespie and Nathalie Smith argued the bulk of the appeal for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).
Read the full article here.