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Ostrander Point preliminary hearing continues

The preliminary Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing into the appeal of the Ostrander Point turbine project continues. The hearing started on Feb 8 in Picton and has been continued in Toronto with an open conference call telephone connection to the County for the Feb 14 and 21 sessions.

Lawyers for the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and Gilead Power are defending the project approval against the appeal by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance for the Protection of Prince Edward County (APPEC). PECFN is appealing on the grounds that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. APPEC’s grounds for appeal are based on harm to human health.

“After much discussion and debate over the three days some decisions have been proposed,” said Cheryl Anderson, of the PECFN. “There seems to be agreement that the two branches of the appeal will be heard separately. It has been agreed that the PECFN appeal will be heard first by the Tribunal. Issues of requiring disclosure of witnesses’ medical records for harm to human health are delaying progress on the APPEC appeal.

“As part of its notice of appeal PECFN requested a stay – that is that no construction activity take place until a decision has been made by the Tribunal. The regulations require the Tribunal to come to a decision by early July. Gilead is protesting the stay request and the Tribunal will rule on the request after hearing arguments on both sides. Gilead wants to begin construction immediately because part of the project approval was the Minister’s ruling that no construction can take place during the avian breeding season from May 1 until July 23 and that road construction would be done between the months of October and February. These conditions leave a short spring window for construction in April. PECFN is determined to present firm defence of the habitat before the ERT decision has been made.”

Several dates have been established for the Main hearing: March 4-8, March 25-28, and April 3-5 with other dates to be set as required. The venue was announced as Sophiasburgh Town Hall in Demorestville; however, Anderson notes attempts are
being made to find a larger, more convenient location.

“In addition to the hearing itself, approval documents show that there are some other items that must be completed before construction can begin. The minister has required Gilead to complete an Alvar Management Plan for Ostrander Point with input from the public. In addition, Traffic Management Plans must be completed and filed with the municipality and a Community Liaison Committee established within three months of the approval.

“PECFN continues to be confident of success and continues to actively fund raise to save Ostrander Point,” Anderson added.

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  1. Chris Keen says:

    http://www.thestar.com/business/2013/02/26/surplus_wind_power_could_cost_ontario_ratepayers_up_to_200_million_ieso.html

    “Coping with surplus wind power will cost Ontario electricity ratepayers up to $200 million a year if market rules don’t change, says the power system operator.

    Moreover, it says, if it can’t control the flow of wind and solar power onto the Ontario grid, then “reliable and economic operation of the power system is, at best, highly compromised and likely not feasible.””

    From the Toronto Star – February 27th

  2. Louise says:

    Donna I am sure an area can be set side as a natural reserve. PEPtbo has a lot of stats about birds in the South Marysburgh area. But you know that.

  3. Suzanne Lucas says:

    Thanks for your clarification, Gary. I do find the process opaque which is probably intended, but what does start to emerge, is that even at this stage, the process seems stacked against all those of us who want to preserve our rare natural heritage at Ostrander Point.

  4. Donna says:

    Where can I read the scientific studies of the flora and fauna at Ostrander Point? Where are the official yearly bird counts for that particular location? Who has managed the natural environment at Ostrander Point over the years to protect the species you list?

    After visiting several National Wildlife Refuges in the States, it’s clear that an area cannot solely be ‘set aside’ as a natural area; it has to be actively and consistently managed. Invasive species, ATV activity, water, predators, and such all have to be dealt with on an ongoing basis.

    Who has cared enough to make Ostrander Point a sustainable and conducive environment for the listed species?

  5. Gary Mooney says:

    Except for any conditions included in the MOE approval, the developer does not have to wait for an ERT appeal decision to start construction.

    But the ERT Tribunal has the power to order a stay on construction if the appellant makes a compelling case.

    Gilead is anxious to begin tearing up the property in April, as soon as the ground has thawed. If they are allowed to do so, much of the damage to habitat will have been done, even if one or both appeals are successful. So PECFN is asking for a stay, and rightly so.

    If a stay is granted but the appeal is unsuccessful, all that Gilead will lose is one month of construction, with April’s work being shifted to the fall. But all Gilead cares about is getting the turbines up and operating. “Time is money”, don’t you know.

  6. Doris Lane says:

    I would not think that the tribunial has the power to grant gilead the right to start construction, the trbunial is there to make a decision as to whether they will let the appeals win. If the trubunial finds in favour of The naturalist and APPEC then gilead has the right to appeal the tribunials decision.
    Gilead thinks they can do as they want because Moe said so and the tribunial is appointed by the government

  7. Suzanne Lucas says:

    A messy business this is then, if one ministry can argue against a decision of another. Does this tribunal have the power to grant Gilead permission to ignore the conditions of its approval?

  8. Pamela Stagg says:

    I find it even more disturbing that the Ministry of the Environment — which should be protecting the environment — is arguing for an immediate start to construction.

  9. Suzanne Lucas says:

    Thank you for keeping us informed on this very important process. I find it very disturbing that Gilead argues for immediate construction as this appears to confirm that they have little or no respect for due process and by extension, little respect for the community in which they want to engage in commercial activity.

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