The Environmental Review Tribunal has ordered 18 of the 27 turbines within the WPD White Pines wind project planned for Prince Edward County’s south shore, be removed.
The long-awaited decision released Wednesday leaves the project with only nine turbines remaining mostly in the Milford area.
“We are pleased that the tribunal agreed with us that there would be a threat to the endangered Blanding’s Turtle,” stated Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County president Orville Walsh. “The turbines being removed are the ones along the south shore and keeping with the Ostrander Point decision it’s important to protect species at risk. This confirms our concerns about preseving the natural heritage of the south shore. It’s a victory for the turtles.”
The order comes after a 21-day hearing in December 2015 and a February 2016 finding that determined the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtle and little brown bat.
Wednesday’s decision made by ERT members Hugh Wilkins and Marcia Valiante follows a hearing in January 2017 aimed at considering ‘remedies’ proposed by proponent WDP Canada in relation to the impact on the turtle and bat.
The ruling finds that: with specified amendments, the proposed mitigation measures are satisfactory for little brown bats; with specified amendments, the proposed mitigation measures are satisfactory for Blanding’s turtles, for turbines one through 11 and the proposed mitigation measures for turbines to be accessed by specified upgraded municipal secondary and tertiary road segments and intersections in Blanding’s turtle habitat are not satisfactory and therefore turbines 12 through 29 are removed from the Renewable Energy Agreement.
Turbines seven and 11 were previously removed, leaving the project now at nine.
Mayor Robert Quaiff applauded the decision calling it ‘an incredibly positive development.’
“Our community has been fighting this project for quite some time now, and I’m glad to see that the Environmental Review Tribunal has recognized and given credence to our concerns,” he said. “I want to congratulate the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County for their tenacity throughout this process. From what I understand, this decision will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for WPD to proceed with the project.”
Both APPEC and WPD can still appeal the decision to the Divisional Court, however only on the grounds of legal error and not evidence.
Our newsroom has reached out to WPD Canada’s Kevin Surette for further comment.