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No decision yet on Ostrander Point wind farm

Blandings_turtle900x600 [1]

BELLEVILLE – The blanding’s turtle has been a central part of the legal arguments used by a small group of naturalists from the County in their battle against a wind farm. Gilead Power and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have yet to hear a decision from Ontario’s top court following a legal tug-of-war that has lasted nearly two years.

By Greg Murphy [2]

Both the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists [3] and Gilead Power [4]have yet to hear a decision from Ontario’s top appeals court [5] regarding their lengthy legal battle [6].

For nearly two years, the small group of naturalists from Prince Edward County has opposed Gilead Power’s plans for a wind farm at Ostrander Point [7], basing their legal arguments on the well-being of the endangered blanding’s turtle [8], among other animals found there.

Cheryl Anderson, an executive member with the naturalists, said she has no idea when a decision will be made in the case.

“It’s frustrating but there’s really nothing we can do about it. The decision rests with the three judges, it’s in their hands,” said Anderson.

Back in June 2013, the Environmental Review Tribunal [9] overturned the Ministry of Environment [10]‘s decision to grant Gilead Power a renewable energy approval for the project because it found it would pose a significant risk to the well being of the blanding’s turtle. The turtle calls Ostrander Point its home.

Gilead Power then appealed to the Divisional Court of Ontario [11], which concluded the tribunal had made legal errors in their findings, and was given permission again to go ahead with the project.

Last month, after the legal tug-of-war, the naturalists found themselves in the Court of Appeal for Ontario – the province’s top court – to stop the wind farm development for good.

Mike Lord, the president of Gilead Power, said he was told not to expect a decision before Christmas but remains optimistic a decision will be reached soon.

“I’m hopeful we’ll have a decision by the end of January but it still rests before the court,” Lord said.

When a decision is made, Lord said the unsuccessful party will be expected to pay the successful party in an amount determined by the court to cover legal fees.

If it gets the go-ahead, Gilead Power hopes to begin construction of the project, which consists of nine wind turbines, by Oct. 2015. The hope is the turbines will be in operation by the second quarter of 2016, Lord said.

“We’re hoping the appeals court will uphold the decision of the divisional court to reinstate the approval granted by the Ministry of Environment for the project,” said Lord.

Meanwhile, Anderson is hoping for the opposite.

“We hope the judges will understand the importance of Ostrander Point to the blanding’s turtle, to say we were right and that it’s no place for wind turbines,” she said.

To read more on the endangered blanding’s turtle, visit speciesatrisk.ca [12].