A key aspect of the Ontario Divisional Court decision that has not received much attention in media reports is how the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) issued by the Ministry of Environment did, in fact, take careful account of protected animal species and plants.
The REA relied on rigorous scientific evidence that the proposed Ostrander Point wind project would produce no serious and irreversible harm to people, plants and animals. The Divisional Court also cites inconsistences in the Tribunal decision to revoke the Environment Ministry’s REA; chiefly that the Tribunal failed to give due consideration to environmental protection conditions that had been met by the developer including an Endangered Species Act (ESA) permit and an environmental management plan that has provisions for Ministry of Natural Resources oversight.
It also is important to note that the Divisional Court upheld the Tribunal’s denial of the appeals of groups opposed to the project. The Court agreed the Tribunal had determined that opposition groups had not presented solid evidence of irreversible harm to human and habitat health.
The Court’s decision reaffirms that processes are in place to ensure that wind energy projects are developed in a manner respectful of the environment and human health. This is good news for communities across Ontario who are realizing both economic and environmental benefits from wind energy development.
Robert Hornung, President
Canadian Wind Energy Association
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