Todd Smith MPP for Prince Edward Hastings challenges Minister of Environment and Climate Change to abandon further spending of tax dollars in support of wind development at Ostrander Point and the south shore of the county. See the video below.
April 21 2015 Picton ON/ The Board of the Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy thanks their members for their support during the Ostrander Point Appeal. The Conservancy was granted intervener status last year during the stay motion which stopped the project from proceeding before all legal avenues were tested.
The Conservancy which was established in 2001 has always stood for protecting this rare, pristine undeveloped stretch of shoreline on Lake Ontario free from industrial development including wind turbine facilities. The biodiversity, endangered species populations and world recognized Important Bird Area make the south shore the wrong place for industrial scale wind turbine installations.
Our fight to protect the Blanding’s turtle has been at the forefront of the debate since 2010 when Gilead Power announced it planned to build 5.4 kilometres of new roads to accommodate the construction and operation of their proposed project.
The Conservancy wishes to thank our lawyer Mr. Chris Paliare who made outstanding arguments on our behalf. “Mr Paliare grasped the significance of our concerns and brought an outstanding energy and legal skill to the court,” said Sandra Goranson, Chair of the Conservancy.
The Conservancy continues to inform the Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources of the continued risk to the south shore from another wind project consisting of 29 more wind turbines which will most definitely create serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtle.
We also congratulate the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists for their unwavering dedication during the Environmental Review tribunal which has brought us all here to this point.
The South Shore Conservancy congratulates the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) for their win on Blanding’s Turtles. The Appeal Court agrees with PECFN that a wind project at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County will harm the Blanding’s Turtles, an endangered species, at the site. The South Shore Conservancy, represented by Chris Paliare, intervened at the hearing on behalf of the field naturalists.
A Financial Post article on this important decision says: “The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that a proposed nine-turbine wind farm in Prince Edward County would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the Blanding’s Turtle.
Click to read the whole Financial Post article “Ontario Court of appeal says endangered turtles trump wind farms”
Click to read the Globe and Mail article that that says “Ontario wind farm halted by endangered turtles crossing the road” .
Toronto – April 20, 2015
The Ontario Court of Appeal has reversed a lower court ruling regarding a Renewal Energy Approval of the 9 turbine Ostrander Point industrial wind project. The decision reinstates the key initial finding of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) that serious and irreversible harm to threatened Blanding’s Turtles will occur if the project operates as approved. “We’re very pleased. The court has ruled in favour of protecting the environment, which is what we’ve asked for throughout“ said Myrna Wood of the successful appellant Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. “The decision is undoubtedly important” said Eric Gillespie, its legal counsel. “This is the first renewable energy case to reach the Court of Appeal. The Court has supported our client’s fundamental concerns and affirmed a number of legal principles that clearly will be relevant to other appeals.” The question of remedy has been directed back to the ERT.
In May 2014 South Shore Conservancy and CCSAGE submitted comments on the wpd reports for the White Pines wind project. We are posting these comments on our website to show the lack of concern to the most vulnerable of the species that use the Prince Edward County south shore unique habitat.
These species at risk include Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, the Little Brown Bat, the Northern Long Eared Bats, Loggerhead Shrike, Cerulean warblers, Night hawks, Blanding’s Turtles and many others. Four leafed milkweed which is particularly rare and is only found in Prince Edward County, Ogden’s pond weed, Pale bellied frost lichen, black tern, swamp rose mallow, eastern ribbon snake, milksnake, northern map turtle, snapping turtle are in the project study area.
The Prince Edward County south shore is a precious and vulnerable area that needs conservation and protection.
We are pleased to offer SSC members advance notice of an important upcoming event at the Regent Theatre in support of Ostrander Point:
“Vanishing Legacies: A Celebration in Film of the County’s South Shore”
Thursday, November 27 at 7 p.m. at the Regent Theatre, Picton
This celebration of the County’s south shore will include Suzanne Pasternak’s film on the Prince Edward Point fishing village and the history of fishing on the south shore. Suzanne will perform songs she has written on the people and times depicted in the film. History buffs and history-challenged alike will enjoy Peter Lockyer’s related History Moments and Marc Sequin will give a short presentation on Save our Lighthouses.
Be sure to mark this date on your calendar and join in this memorable celebration of County history in support of the Save Ostrander Point Legal Fund. There will be a door charge of $15 and a donation jar. This celebration is particularly well timed with the Court of Appeal hearing taking place ten days later on December 8 – 9. We hope that the donation jar will be filled to overflowing as a show of our gratitude and support for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists as they head to court to yet again defend their Environmental Review Tribunal win.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy
P. O. Box 147
October 7, 2014
Premier Kathleen Wynne Gord Miller
Legislative Building Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
Queen’s Park 1075 Bay St
Toronto, ON Ste. 605
M7A 1A1 Toronto, ON
Toronto, ON M5S 2B1
(Sent via e-mail. Hard copy to follow.)
Dear Premier Wynne and Mr. Miller:
Re: wpd White Pines wind development, endangered species and World Wildlife Fund
This letter is public and may be shared.
We are writing to request your assistance in improving governmental process for renewable energy projects. Ontario’s guidelines for siting renewable energy projects are not aligned with policies of respected organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or even with Environment Canada policies. Ontario’s standards and practices do not reflect global concern for wildlife in general and for species at risk in particular.
As you may be aware WWF has just released a new report on the state of the earth’s wildlife populations. According to WWF:
This latest edition of the Living Planet Report is not for the faint-hearted. One key point that jumps out is that the Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, has declined by 52 per cent since 1970.
Put another way, in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril.
In addition WWF states in its new report regarding population decline:
TERRESTRIAL LPI – living planet index
The terrestrial LPI contains population trends for 1,562 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians from a wide range of habitats. The index shows that terrestrial populations have been declining since 1970 (Figure 12) – a trend that currently shows no sign of slowing down or being reversed. On average, in 2010 – the year for which the most recent comprehensive dataset is available – terrestrial species had declined by 39 per cent. The loss of habitat to make way for human land use – particularly for agriculture, urban development and energy production – continues to be a major threat to the terrestrial environment.
It is expected that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change could issue a renewable energy approval for wpd’s White Pines Wind Project. This project is a prime example of how Ontario’s guidelines for renewable energy projects are not working.
Twelve of the project’s turbines are in the globally-significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA) and eight turbines are just outside its boundary. Five turbines are in very close proximity to a National Wildlife Area which was chosen because of its density and diversity of birds. In total, some 298 species of birds have been recorded with about 220 species being recorded during the average year. Most of these species are recorded during migration although at least 74 species nest within the area.
Wpd’s tweny-nine turbines are placed in the direct path of a major flyway that has the highest fall migration numbers of saw-whet owls in North America and the fourth highest migration numbers for raptors. This flyway receives large numbers of endangered Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. The passing of a large percentage of the Golden Eagles that reside in North America through a project of this size will imperil this population as well as other populations of migrating species of birds and bats.
The wind project is located in Blanding’s turtle habitat which includes the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block. As you may know in 2013 an Environmental Review Tribunal revoked the renewable energy approval for Ostrander on the grounds that the wind project would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles.
The wind project study area includes the Provincially Significant South Bay Coastal Wetland, 231 hectares in size, noted for supporting Blanding’s turtle as well as 17 wetlands (unevaluated by MNR) that are considered ‘significant’. 9 of these 17 wetlands qualify under the definition of Coastal Wetlands.
The White Pines Wind Project is a prime example of how proper siting of projects should be the first consideration. The document “Wind Turbines and Birds: A Guidance Document for Environmental Assessment, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service” lists 11 criteria for locations where turbines should not be sited. The south shore of Prince Edward County meets all of these criteria:
- The presence of a bird species listed as “at risk” by the SARA, COSEWIC or
provincial/territorial threat ranking, or the presence of the residence(s) of individuals of that
species if listed under the SARA, or of its critical habitat. To be of concern, either the bird or
its residence or critical habitat must be considered to be potentially affected by the project;
- Site is in an Important Bird Area;
- Site is adjacent to a National Wildlife Area;
- Site of fall migration of large concentrations of raptors;
- Site is on a known migration corridor;
- Site contains shoreline on a peninsula;
- Site will disrupt large contiguous wetland habitat;
- Site located close to significant migration staging area for waterfowl;
- Site contains species of high conservation concern, eg. Aerial flight displays, PIF/CWS
- Site is recognized as provincially important alvar habitat type;
- Site is adjacent to a heronry.
Environment Canada: Wind Turbines and Birds V. 8.2, p.21, 2007
The WWF POSITION ON WIND POWER 2004 states:
On the planning process for the development of wind power WWF believes that:
- The development of wind farms should be managed sensitively and framed within regional and local spatial planning guidelines. This should include development of national, regional and local wind targets, assessing high value habitats and identifying no-go areas for wind development. In this way, any environmental impacts and conflicts with other land or marine uses would be identified and minimised.
- Proposals for wind farm developments within IUCN 1-2 protected areas and/or national parks should not be allowed, unless a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clearly indicates that the proposed development will not cause adverse effects on the integrity or conservation objectives of statutory protected area.
- Wind turbines can have a possible impact upon wildlife if sited in the wrong place and as such should not be placed in important bird nesting grounds or within identified bird migration routes, such as RAMSAR sites.
We acknowledge that there is an appeal process for Renewable Energy Approvals. However at the present time it appears futile to appeal a renewable energy approval on the grounds of serious and irreversible harm to plant and animal life or to the natural environment. The 2013 Divisional Court decision revoking the decision of the Ostrander Point Environmental Review Tribunal has ruled that the finding of irreversible harm cannot be made without population data. At the recent appeal for the Bow Lake Wind Project the Tribunal noted that:
 The impact of this approach is that irreversible harm cannot be shown for the numerous species of plants and animals in Ontario for which the current state of the science is such that population numbers are not well enough known for an “order of magnitude” to be calculated. Given that the finding of serious and irreversible harm is a threshold finding under the EPA, in that the Tribunal may not make any remedial order unless it is met, these species appear to be left without protection under the appeal provisions of s. 145.2.1 of the EPA. The Tribunal notes that the MNR Bird and Bat Guidelines, as well as the Alberta Guidelines referenced by the Appellant in this case, recognize the current limitations of scientific knowledge and as a result take a more flexible, contextual approach to determining harm. However,the Divisional Court ruling in Ostrander is currently the law in Ontario and is binding on the Tribunal.
Environmental Review Tribunal case Nos.: 13-145/13-146 Fata v. Director, Ministry of the Environment
The Divisional Court declared not only that population data is needed in order to make a finding of irreversible harm but that the onus is on appellants to provide this data. The Divisional Court decision has been appealed but if the decision is allowed to stand the onus will be on members of the public and small unfunded conservation groups to collect and provide population data.
It would take several years of scientific study to acquire population data on species on Prince Edward County’s south shore. The studies would have to be done however, because the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry does not possess any data on local plant and animal populations.
For the reasons identified it would be futile to appeal a renewable energy approval at this time.
The Environmental Review Tribunal process was the last line of defense for species that might be seriously harmed by renewable energy projects. This line of defense is broken. The government’s own Tribunal acknowledges that “species appear to be left without protection under the appeal provisions of s. 145.2.1 of the Environmental Protection Act.”
Clear policies are urgently needed in order to ensure the protection of species and the habitat that is required for these species to carry out their life processes.
With this in mind and understanding the government of Ontario’s desire to appear protective of the environment, the Conservancy respectfully requests that:
- no new renewable energy generation approvals be issued until the Ontario Court of Appeal issues a decision on the Ostrander appeal. This request seems reasonable as the Tribunal is currently prevented from making a finding of irreversible harm at this time even if it believes that the project will cause irreversible harm;
- renewable energy project developers be required to provide population data and/or that resources be provided to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry or to Nature Canada to conduct studies on population if the Ostrander appeal is allowed to stand; and
- a review of current provincial practices and policies on renewable energy generation projects be conducted using WWF and EC siting recommendations as good practice standards.
We appreciate your attention to these important matters and look forward to receiving a response.
Secretary, South Shore Conservancy
Hon Glen Murray, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Hon Bill Mauro, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
André Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario
The Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy is a volunteer organization committed to protecting the flora, fauna and habitats encompassed by the South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA). The IBA includes species at risk, both breeding and migratory. It was founded in 2001.