The endangered Blanding’s turtle has helped the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists take down turbines. The Environmental
Review Tribunal has allowed the appeal of the Ostrander Point Project by PECFN on grounds of serious and irreversible harm
to the natural environment, and has revoked the approval of the project by the Director, Ministry of the Environment.
Eric Gillespie represented the PECFN and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC). The two citizen-based groups,
on Jan. 4, 2013 – appealed the Ministry of the Environment’s approval of Gilead Power’s nine turbine Ostrander
Point industrial wind project. The approval of the project by the MOE came under fire as it was issued Dec. 20, 2012 –
just before the Christmas holidays.
The tribunal decision was announced Wednesday after 40 days, 185 exhibits and testimony
of 31 expert witnesses appeared before the panel of lawyers Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs in Demorestville and Toronto.
tribunal concluded “that engaging in the project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm
to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. This is on the basis of findings that such harm will be caused to Blanding’s
The PECFN appeal hearing took place over 24 hearing days and the APPEC appeal hearing took 16 days. The
tribunal heard from nine witnesses for PECFN, 15 for APPEC, 10 for the Director and 13 for the approval holder.
two citizens’ groups submissions had to prove the project will cause serious harm to human health, or serious and irreversible
harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.
The tribunal concluded APPEC did not meet the first branch
of the test regarding harm to human health “because no causal link has been established between wind turbines and human
heath effects at the 550m setback distance required under this renewable energy approval.”
PECFN argued the Crown
land on the south shore of Prince Edward County “is a highly sensitive ecological area and the wrong location for a
wind farm because it is particularly susceptible to serious and irreversible harm, and that as Crown land, it ‘is a
resource that belongs to all Ontarians.’ PECFN submitted that if wind turbines can be erected in this location, then
they can be erected anywhere in Ontario. PECFN further submitted that the proposed “mitigation technologies are untested,
unproven and unreliable.”
From the Summary of Findings:
Issue No. 1: Whether engaging in
the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health.
 The evidence in this proceeding
did not establish a causal link between wind turbines and either direct or indirect harm to human health at the 550 m set-back
distance required under this REA.
 The evidence in this hearing did not establish that engaging in the Ostrander
Point wind turbine project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health.
 For these reasons
the Tribunal finds that the Appellant has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause
serious harm to human health, and dismisses APPEC’s appeal.
Issue No. 2: Whether engaging in the Project in accordance
with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.
1: animal life
 The Tribunal finds that mortality due to roads, brought by increased vehicle traffic, poachers and
predators, directly in the habitat of Blanding’s turtle, a species that is globally endangered and threatened in Ontario,
is serious and irreversible harm to
Blanding’s turtle at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block that will not be effectively
mitigated by the conditions in the REA.
 The Tribunal finds that the appellant has not established that engaging
in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to birds or their habitat.
Tribunal concludes that PECFN has not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious
and irreversible harm to bats.
 The Tribunal finds that PECFN has not established that engaging in the Project in
accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to Monarch butterflies.
Sub-issue 2: plant life
The Tribunal finds that PECFN has not shown that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA, (i.e., including the
minimum mitigation measures outlined in s. I17 of the REA that must be included in a future ARMP), will cause serious and
irreversible harm to alvar plants or the alvar ecosystem at the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block.
Click here for the full, 140-page report
Administrator | Jul 05, 2013 | Comments 0
The globally endangered Blanding’s turtle is being
touted as the hero that saved Prince Edward County’s south shore from the installation of industrial wind turbines.
Environmental Review Tribunal decision July 3 said the nine turbine, 22.5 megawatt project will cause serious and irreversible
harm to Blanding’s turtle at Ostrander Point.
The province approved what would have been the first wind farm entirely
on Crown land just days before Christmas. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Association to Protect
Prince Edward County (APPEC) launched their appeals January 4.
This is the first time the tribunal has acknowledged
wind farms can cause irreversible damage to wildlife.
“Finally, a balance has been struck between the demands
for green energy and conserving our environment,” says Myrna Wood, PECFN president. “Renewable energy, to be truly
green, must not destroy wildlife.”
“The legal test on renewable energy appeals is rigorous and difficult
to meet but our lawyers Eric Gillespie and Natalie Smith worked hard with our witnesses to present the scientific evidence
that the tribunal panel has accepted.
“It realized that this was the wrong place for development of any kind.
It understood the witnesses’ evidence that the construction of the project and roads would cause serious harm to the
habitat of many species and went one step further to decide that the harm to the Endangered Blanding’s Turtle would
Naturalists also argued the turbines would harm birds, bats, monarch butterflies and the alvar
environment. The tribunal found turbines might cause damage in those areas, but ruled there was no proof any harm would be
The tribunal dismissed the case from APPEC “because no causal link has been established between
wind turbines and human heath effects at the 550m setback distance required under this renewable energy approval.”
Henri Garand, said APPEC is baffled by the decision on human health and is considering an appeal to the Ontario Divisional
“The panel accepted key findings in the Erickson ERT decision (2011) that turbines can cause serious harm
and some people will experience symptoms arising from “extreme annoyance.” It also found “credible”
the testimony of 11 rural Ontario residents who reported their ill health following the start of operations by six different
wind projects. Finally, it heard that these reports meet Dr. Robert McMurtry’s case definition for adverse health
effects in the environs of industrial wind turbines.
“Yet the ERT panel declined to connect the health evidence
with expert opinion. Instead, it argued that medical diagnoses and noise studies are required. These demands far
exceed the legal test that wind victims are “more likely than not” suffering “serious harm to health”
from wind turbines.”
“The decision suggests that the ERT process is fundamentally flawed,” said APPEC
president Gord Gibbins. “The Ministry of Environment has no scientific basis for its 550-m residential setbacks.
The Ministry of Health has never conducted any health studies on wind turbines. Yet, under the Liberal government’s
Green Energy Act, appellants to the ERT are expected to assume the burden of proof when challenging projects, just as if they
were taking on the tobacco industry.”
Gilead Power has said the company is “reviewing the decision, and
assessing the options.”
There is a 30-day appeal window the decision can be appealed in a divisional court, based
on any legal errors or omissions in the decision.
Wood says that if an appeal of the decision is brought by Gilead or
the Ministry of Environment, PECFN and its legal counsel is prepared to respond, but continues to seek support. They have
raised $63,902 of the $125,000 necessary to pay for the Ostrander Point appeal. Donations may be sent to: Ostrander Point
Appel Fund, 59 King St., Unit 2, Picton, ON, K0K 2T0.
The decision should not affect wpd’s White Pines 29-turbine
project in South Marysburgh, and Athol.
“wpd’s White Pines project is located on privately owned land and
is not open to the public,” says Kevin Surette, wpd communications manager.
“The decision to overturn the
approval was based on serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtle – a endangered species found in the area.
The Tribunal found that the mitigating measures proposed to protect the turtle would not be adequate based on the public nature
of the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block, and that the increased traffic on newly build access roads would cause an unacceptable
increase in mortality, poaching and predation. The land is regularly used by ATV enthusiasts, hunters, hikers, birders and
“The Tribunal made seven findings in the Ostrander Point appeal, six of which dismissed the claims made
by the appellants. Although evidence was presented and testimony given by individuals who assert that existing wind projects
near their homes are affecting their health, the tribunal concluded that there was no evidence which linked those health issues
to the wind turbines. The Tribunal also dismissed the claims that wind turbines would seriously harm birds, bats or alvar
– even within an IBA.”
Click here for summary of findings and link to full report