Ontario environmental tribunal rules on wind project's approval

The tribunal determined that it was not obliged to consider impacts to the turtle population on a provincial or even regional basis

Ontario's Environmental Review Tribunal has allowed an appeal of a renewable energy approval (REA). The tribunal revoked the REA for the proposed wind energy project on July 3, 2013. While the appeal was determined on specific issues related to the location of the project, the decision highlights the extensive evidence required to support renewable energy development in environmentally sensitive areas.

The proposed Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park was to be located in Prince Edward County, in an area designated as important for birds, with wetlands throughout. After 24 days of evidence with respect to environmental issues, the tribunal found that expert opinions diverged with respect to the effectiveness of mitigation measures to protect an endangered turtle species identified in the project area.

The tribunal determined that it was not obliged to consider impacts to the turtle population on a provincial or even regional basis. Instead, the appeal was granted on the basis that the undefined population of the turtles in the project area would suffer serious and irreversible harm due to the development and use of roads in the project area and the ineffective protection offered by mitigation measures during operation of the project.

The tribunal did not consider imposing additional conditions under the REA or modifying the location or number of wind turbines, but simply revoked the whole of the REA.

Other environmental issues and health impacts alleged by the appellants were not accepted by the tribunal. It is not yet known whether the project proponent will challenge the tribunal's decision.

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