Three appeals of the Ostrander Point ERT decision
Right at the August 2nd deadline, three appeals were launched against the recent decisions of the Environmental Review Tribunal relating to Ostrander Point. The first two were by Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP (alias Gilead Power) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) respectively against the Tribunal’s decision, sought by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), to disallow 9 wind turbines on the grounds of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtles, an endangered species. The third, by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) appeals the Tribunal’s decision dismissing APPEC’s claim that the turbines would cause serious harm to human health.
Dealing with them in reverse order, the APPEC appeal was to be expected, given the evidence provided by several witnesses, described as “credible” by the Tribunal, of serious health problems suffered in close proximity to existing Ontario wind factories and the linking of those problems to the operation of turbines by outstanding medical experts.
The appeal by Gilead Power was also to be expected; it has invested considerable time and resources on its own behalf and for its major investor to secure an above average, Ontario Government (read taxpayer) guaranteed, return over a minimum 20 year period and can afford to retain one of the largest and most expensive of Canadian law firms. If its appeal is successful, it is claiming costs from PECFN, a small not-for-profit which totally depends on the generosity mostly of individual County residents.
The appeal by MOE could not likely have occurred without approval from the Ontario government of which it is a part, specifically of the Cabinet which includes the Premier. It is unlikely that any Ministry or Minister would act on its or his/her own initiative without such approval on a matter of major delicacy and importance. The only implications to be drawn seem to be that the Premier’s efforts to distance herself from her predecessor and her assurances of more cordial relations and cooperation with rural municipalities on Green Energy Act matters are spent. And let us not forget that the salaries of the MOE lawyers are paid by many of those very taxpayers in opposition to MOE’s position.
There are other troubling aspects about Ostrander Point. The Tribunal was not allowed to hear evidence about the devastating cumulative effects on one of Canada’s major flyways which has existed for millennia from turbines existing or planned on Wolfe Island, Amherst Island, Prince Edward County and the mainland to the east, and offshore when the moratorium is lifted. Nor has the Ministry of Natural Resources, the owner of Ostrander Point in trust for Ontario residents, disclosed exactly how much payment it will receive each year from Gilead for each of the nine turbines. And is there not a conflict of interest in one Ministry issuing a permit to Gilead to erect turbines which would facilitate the receipt by a sister Ministry of such payments? And then exacerbating the initial conflict by appealing?
In the world of the Green Energy Act, democracy is paid but lip service. The only prospective ray of light at the moment is that the appeals are to the Divisional Court of the Superior Court of Ontario on alleged “points of law”. Superior Court judges are of a high calibre, federally appointed and completely independent.