Approval of the Ostrander Point wind project by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment is an outrage
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, Ontario (December 23, 2012) — Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) announced its approval of Gilead Power Corporation’s 9-turbine Ostrander Point wind project on December 20. In taking this action, it has dismissed the concerns and ignored the advice of almost everyone knowledgeable about the natural environment, and has opened itself to criticism regarding conflicts of interest and a lack of regard for its own due process.
Ostrander Point is Crown Land (owned by the people of Ontario) situated within the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area. Ontario allows wind turbines in IBAs; other countries such as Germany do not. The property, on a major bird and bat migration route and home to several endangered species, is arguably the worst location in the province for wind turbines.
MOE’s decision is an affront to the environmental community, which almost unanimously requested that Ostrander Point be designated as a “no go” zone for wind turbines. It flies in the face of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, who recently recommended that wind projects be kept out of Important Bird Areas. It ignores the wishes of the vast majority of the 1517 members of the public who submitted comments about this project.
Although MOE attached conditions to its approval, they will not be effective in limiting bird and bat kills among the millions that fly through the area twice per year, not will they adequately protect the habitat of resident species at risk such as whip-poor-will and Blanding’s turtle.
A troubling aspect of this decision is that the Ontario government has two conflicts of interests in respect of the Ostrander Point project:
The Ministry of Natural Resources will benefit from lease payments on Crown Land made by the developer, conservatively estimated to be $3 million over 20 years.
The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union pension trust (OPTrust) will benefit from a substantial investment in the Ostrander Point project, committed well before MOE’s approval of the project. The investment, by its subsidiary Firelight, was endorsed jointly by the union and the government.
The Liberal government has put its interests and those of the proponent ahead of everyone else. Gilead Power has no prior connections to Prince Edward County, and will contribute little to the community. Neither deserves to benefit at the expense of the County’s transitory and resident wildlife.
Adding insult to injury, the December 20 announcement was obviously chosen so that the 15-day timeframe allowed for preparation and filing of an Environmental Review Tribunal appeal would coincide with the busy holiday period — evidence of the government’s contempt for its own due process.
Approval of this project by MOE shows complete disdain for the concerns of Prince Edward County’s residents and naturalists / environmentalists everywhere, and further demonstrates the arrogance of the Liberal government.
By its actions, the Liberal government has administered yet another slap in the face to rural Ontario. We will continue our vigorous opposition to this project, drawing on the strong support of County residents, businesses and Council, other rural Ontarians and naturalists / environmentalists everywhere.
The County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy is comprised of citizens’ action groups and business owners in Prince Edward County concerned about the adverse health, environmental and economic effects of large-scale, uncontrolled wind energy development in the County.