APPEC News Release on ERT Decision on Ostrander Point

Milford, ON/ July 4, 2013   The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) congratulates the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists on the success of its appeal on the Ostrander Point wind power project.  The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) has recognized that Ostrander Point provides critical habitat for endangered species such as the Blanding’s turtle.

However, APPEC is baffled by the ERT’s decision on human health.  The panel accepted key findings in the Erickson ERT decision (2011) that turbines can cause serious harm and some people will experience symptoms arising from “extreme annoyance.”  It also found “credible” the testimony of eleven rural Ontario residents who reported their ill health following the start of operations by six different wind projects.  Finally, it heard that these reports meet Dr. Robert McMurtry’s case definition for adverse health effects in the environs of industrial wind turbines.

Yet the ERT panel declined to connect the health evidence with expert opinion.  Instead, it argued that medical diagnoses and noise studies are required.  These demands far exceed the legal test that wind victims are “more likely than not” suffering “serious harm to health” from wind turbines.

 “The decision suggests that the ERT process is fundamentally flawed,” said APPEC president Gord Gibbins.  “The Ministry of Environment has no scientific basis for its 550-m residential setbacks.  The Ministry of Health has never conducted any health studies on wind turbines.  Yet, under the Liberal government’s Green Energy Act, appellants to the ERT are expected to assume the burden of proof when challenging projects, just as if they were taking on the tobacco industry.” 

“It seems that citizens are required to undertake acoustical and epidemiological research,” Gibbins added.  “It is not enough to provide evidence of specific, ongoing harmful effects. This requirement turns the standard of proof, ‘the balance of probabilities,’ into a test well beyond the reasonable.” 

APPEC is therefore considering an appeal to the Ontario Divisional Court.  Meanwhile, APPEC contends that the Ministry of Environment should re-examine existing regulations and exercise caution in approvals of the siting of all new wind power projects.  There is sufficient evidence to justify a precautionary approach.

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