Anything but bland, the endangered Blanding’s Turtle has sent a wind turbine project on Crown Land back to the drawing board — at least for now.
In a landmark July decision, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) revoked a permit that had been issued by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to Ostrander Point Wind Energy Project. The two-member tribunal found that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Natural Heritage Assessment did not adequately account for protecting the Blanding’s Turtle. The species has “threatened” status internationally and is endangered in Ontario.
Gilead Power and the Ministry of the Environment have filed appeals of the tribunal decision.
The MOE permit would have allowed temporary land use, work permits and a Crown easement on a 324-hecare habitat in Prince Edward County. While the private project included impact monitoring, road speed regulation, and a moratorium on construction from May to October of any year, the ESA permit did allow the project to “kill, harm, harass, capture, possess and transport” the Blanding’s Turtle.
The ERT applied a s. 142.2(1) EPA test. Activists had appealed the permit decision on the grounds that the project would cause serious harm to human health; and serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life and the natural environment.
The tribunal found that, in this case, mitigation measures could not be shown to effectively prevent serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle to the extent required. Measures must be proportionate to the probable harm to endangered species, the tribunal found.
Blanding’s Turtle is on the Species at Risk in Ontario list.
Turtle poaching is a problem in Ontario.
Environmental Protection Act , R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER E.19