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Council endorses naturalists’ bid to keep turbines away from significant bird area

by Joanne Courneya-FitzRoy
Wind turbines and birding areas do not mix.
This is the message Prince Edward County Field Naturalists members Myrna Wood and Cheryl Anderson brought to council last night.
The best wind power is offshore on Lake Ontario, said Wood, but there is a moratorium on offshore turbines. She added there are a lot of other appropriate areas in the County and other parts of the province that would not disturb significant wildlife and would have just as much wind power. “We support the Green Energy Act and wind energy but it has to be put in the right place,” said Wood. “Ostrander Point is the wrong place.”
“Prince Edward County is the penultimate refuelling refuge for birds migrating from South and Central America on their way to and from the boreal forest,” Anderson said. “In the spring they can be seen on Doppler radar massing on the south shore of Lake Ontario waiting for an appropriate time to cross over to the closest land – which is Prince Edward County. When they arrive they are tired and hungry.”
Anderson explained the data of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory confirms millions of birds use this flyway. “If the plans of the Ontario government and Gilead Power are allowed to go forward, millions of birds will have to confront another obstacle when they arrive at their refuge. Nine wind turbines on the Ostrander Crown Land block and a further 20 proposed turbines in the PEC South Shore Important Bird Area, part of the WPD proposal, will have to be negotiated by the already exhausted and famished birds. There is no doubt that the mortality will be significant.”

She added that Ostrander Point is a refuge for threatened and endangered species such as Blandings Turtle and the Whip-poor-will – and that the two have been cited in a recent Environmental Bill of Rights permit to allow development of nine turbines. There is a long list of threatened species that have traditionally used the area, she said.
“The ideal that Ontario needs to destroy important natural habitat to provide the electrical power generated by nine turbines is ridiculous,” said Anderson. “As is the idea that the Ministry of Natural Resources can support the destruction of a valuable and important natural resource.”
The PE County Naturalists were asking council to endorse their responses to the wind turbine project under the Environmental Bill of Rights and deny permission to Gilead Power to build.

When asked if members had met with MNR representatives to discuss their concerns, Anderson replied “We have met with our MPP, but we are concerned with the birds, not turbines.”

Councillor Brian Marisett said a staff report on the ramifications of council endorsing the birders’ request would be necessary before any action be taken. Councillor Bev Campbell agreed that council does not want to do something “at odds with our initial comments to the MNR.”

“I give it full support,” said Councillor Robert Quaiff. “We should endorse this and get our position out there.” Quaiff said he and his family visited the bird observatory over the Victoria Day weekend and saw “species of birds I had never seen before. This is an area of scientific interest. Why would the province allow turbines to be set up in the middle of it?” he said.

No majority of County residents are opposed to wind turbines, said Councillor Jamie Forrester. “We have to learn to deal with them. Everybody wants green energy, but not in their backyard,” he said. “When are we going to look at finding solutions for our children’s future?”

Mayor Peter Mertens agreed with supporting the naturalists.
“If the matter goes to staff for a report, these are the experts they will likely consult,” he said. “This is one of the largest migration routes in North America,” said Mertens, noting wind turbines in the wrong place could negatively impact the County’s eco-tourism. He pointed out that the naturalists do not oppose green energy when it is in the right place.

In a recorded vote of 13-3 council endorsed the comments of the Prince Edward County Naturalists to the MNR regarding species at risk habitat at Ostrander Point. Dissenters were councillors Marisett, Forrester and Keith MacDonald.

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  1. Randy Cross says:

    The Green Energy Acti is a $28 Billion Government Boondoggle

    Forget Green Energy -
    IT’S FAKE

    http://www­­.youtube.­c­om/watch­?v­=JMklQL­ekg­6E

  2. Gary Mooney says:

    Ted Cheskey, Manager of Bird Conservation Programs at Ontario Nature, gave an interesting talk last evening at the AGM of PEC Field Naturalists (PECFN).

    About 10 years ago, Myrna Wood of PECFN, Terry Sprague and Ted Cheskey were key contributors to the establishment of the South Shord Important Bird Area (SSIBA). It was great to have three of the foremost experts on the SSIBA in the room at one time.

    Ted stated that Ontario Nature, while supportive of wind energy in general, is absolutely opposed to wind projects in IBAs. And the SSIBA is a prime example of where not to put wind turbines. Gilead and White Pines projects toether have 21 turbines located in the IBA, and 8 more just north of it.

    Some points that Ted made:

    Migrating birds land in the SSIBA to rest, and often wait for optimal weather conditions before continuing on. During the waiting time, they fly back and forth along the shore. So it’s not just down, up and away. Most of the birds fly at heights below the tops of wind turbines.

    Migration paths tend to be along the north shore of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie rather than straight across the lake. Raptors almost never fly across open water. Many wind turbine projects are being sited along these shores.

    The most important area to protect for bird flight is a strip of shoreline 1-km onto land and 1-km into the water from the shoreline.

    Ted confirmed what we already knew — that the Gilead and White Pines projects are in the worst possible location for wind turbine projects.

  3. John Thompson says:

    I didn’t suggest that the government would be able to make a decision based on science but the ERT will if it gets to them. That’s their experitise and job description.

  4. John Portnos says:

    John T – The government make a decision based on science? Such as the Ministry of Natural Resources making a decision on Gilead Power’s Environmental Impact Study? Have you read the draft EIS from Gilead? The fact that it’s gotten this far is a complete joke …. for example ….

    - Gilead plans to “kill, harm and harass” endangered species (of which Gilead itself acknowledges that there are 6 in the vicinity of the project).

    - Gilead being selective on its migratory bird information, including historical data from approx. 1974 to 1995 when PEPTBO is just next door, wasn’t quite established then and has documented 298 species of birds in total.

    - Site investigations by Stantec/other consultants fail to adequately document the number of species that inhabit/breed in the area (for example no mention whatsoever of snapping turtles, painted turtles, squirrels, etc in the EIS). What else did they miss? In my opinion, good science should not be backed by short, selective, untimely site visits by a group (Stantec) that will likely build the wind project in the end.

    - Selective timing by Gilead when studies were conducted, missing the key migratory time of year.

    - Gilead providing few details on how alternative arrangements will be made for the endangered species they impact.

    I could go on. That’s not science! It’s biased, flawed, and inconsistent. I agree that a blanket objection to all wind projects does not solve the problem, but a renewable energy project in the wrong place is outrageous and cannot be reversed!

  5. John Thompson says:

    Gary, the rest of my thinking on that is that WCO has stated that they will appeal all projects. As merit does not matter to them, I think it should just be left to the appeal. I it passes that hurdle, then all should be well and of net benefit.

  6. John Thompson says:

    Gary, I just meant that the decision should be based on science rather than politics. Fine with me if the goverment can do that.

  7. Gary Mooney says:

    John, re your idea of leaving the environmental aspects to an appeal process, doesn’t it make more sense to deal with the issue up front as part of the original approval process? Isn’t this a responsibility appropriate for government? Why do you want to shift the responsiblity to individual members of the public to finance out of their own pockets?

  8. John Thompson says:

    Even if all waste of electicity could be eliminated, consumption is expected to increase over time as fossil fuels become more scarce and expensive and continually less acceptable from a GHG perpective. For example, electric powered heat pumps (ie geothemal heating) replace furnace oil and electic powered cars will reduce gas consumption. Liquid fuel use goes down but the flip side is electricity use increases as technology changes. (Detailed on the WWF energy report among others)

    Generation from wind and solar has a positive EROEI and continues to increase worldwide.

    I think a determination of the bioligical significance of the Ostrander Point project should be left to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Their job is to rule based on the science, not the politics.

  9. Lori Cairns says:

    Further to John’s comments, if industry and big commercial developments are using most of the energy, why not put any IWT on their properties?

    I don’t see any big industry and commercial developments in the county other than the cement plant.

    Seems that they could save a lot of money not having to put transmission lines across the province.

    It gets very windy in downtown Toronto.

  10. Lori Cairns says:

    Thank-you, John, for your explanation.

    It is my understanding that the EROEI is in such negative territory in countries like Denmark and Germany that that is why they are moving away from wind power. Why do we not learn from this?

    Why are we not spending as much time and effort pushing conservation as some are spending pushing wind turbines?

    Stupid me, there is no money in conservation.

    Our lifestyles are going to have to change. Bottom line.

    I would rather power down than have people think that our energy comes from a “green” source so they can continue on with business as usual.

    It always boggles my mind to see how much energy people waste.

  11. John Thompson says:

    The green aspect of commercial sized wind developments comes from the fact that over their lifespan, they are able to produce several times more energy than the energy required for their manufacturing, installation and maintenance. All the while, producing no pollution and not consuming water.

    These efficiencies depend on size as the energy is derived from the swept area, which increases exponentially with the length of the blades. This physics explains why smaller wind generators are less efficient from a cost and energy return from energy invested perspective. Also, the higher winds are a lot more productive.

    About one third of the energy that we consume is consumed at home, the remainder at the commercial and industrial facilities which produce the goods and services which we all consume and the exports which finance our imports.

  12. Doris Lane says:

    Brian I hope you took advantage of the film at the regent today. It was well done and explains things in a way that everyone can understand them
    As we all know IWT’s are all about big business and it is only big business that really benefits. they get 90% of the profit and the rest is divided up among others.
    The turbine people are supper salesmen and they know how to sell their product and make people think that what they are doing is good for everyone. It is really only good for big business people.

  13. Lori Cairns says:

    I, too, am fed up with the labelling and name calling. Just because I oppose filling the province up with IWT doesn’t mean I don’t know the truth of our situation and don’t care about what we are doing to this planet.
    In my opinion, the sustainable way forward would have each residence generating its own energy. Solar panels and a small windmill (and I mean small) would be standard equipment in each yard. When the energy is used up, you wait for more to be generated. Conservation is key.
    HOWEVER, I know that neither of these options is sustainable for the long term. Each takes a tremendous amount of fossil fuels to make, erect/install, hook-up, maintain and decommission.

    A question for you, Mr. Marissett:

    Care to enlighten us “anti-greens” as to how an IWT is “green”?

    I have never understood how something that uses so much energy to make, install, hook-up and maintain is good for the environment. From where I sit, they are just a means to keep business as usual for those who don’t want to face the harsh reality of resource depletion.

  14. Gary Mooney says:

    I agree with Terry. I’m fed up with the name calling (NIMBY) and labelling (anti-green). Unfortunately it started with our Premier, so it’s maybe not too surprising that a few other politicians would resort to this tactic.

    It’s a tactic used when the person doesn’t have strong arugments to back up his/her case.

  15. Renee says:

    John, you have until June 9 to submit your concerns to the Ministry of Natural Resources regarding the Gilead project at Ostrander park. The link is here: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTEyODc0&statusId=MTY5Mjg1&language=en

  16. John Portnos says:

    At this point, what can be done to voice one’s opposition to this outrageous project? Who are the relevant decision makers that need to be contacted? What deadlines are we up against (as Gilead Power’s website says it expects to start construction as early as August)? Kindly advise. thanks

  17. Terry Sprague says:

    I agree, Chris! Frankly, I am getting sick to death of hearing the term “anti-green”. I deal with many hundreds of nature enthusiasts and avid birders every year in my work, and I purposely go out of my way to get their opinions on this issue. To date, I have yet to hear one of them say that they were against this form of green energy, although many have questioned the efficiency of wind turbines. We just want to see these placed in appropriate areas, because once a mistake is made in their placement, there is no turning back, despite the empty promises of “mitigation”.

  18. Brian Marisett says:

    Chris

    During previous debate on the health issues related to wind energy I have suggested to Council that I would like to hear comments from the Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit.

  19. Chris Keen says:

    Mr.Marisett: If one of your responsibilities as a councillor is to “provide … factual comments”, you might want to practice what you preach. To label all who oppose destroying a sensitive ecosystem by the erecting of wind turbines adjacent to an Important Birding Area as “anti green” is ridiculous. To say that concern for one’s health is anti green is equally absurd.

    As a member of council why didn’t you ask the Hasting Prince Edward Health Unit what their opinion on this issue is? After all, you are supposed to represent all of your constituents – whether you agree with them or not.

    Enough with the divisive and prejudicial “anti” labels please!

  20. Brian Marisett says:

    I for one support a referendum on GEEA and the development of our wind resource, as a matter of fact I suggested a referendum last term of Council, funny thing there was no support for a referendum from the anti green clan at that time.

    My request for a staff report prior to Council endorsement is consistent with prior actions of Council. We have to defend what we endorse and due diligence must be reflected in out actions.

    Our role as Council in my opinion is to participate in the process and provide accurate defendable factual comments when opportunities present themselves.

    As for the health issue, why have the anti greens not taken their concerns to the Hastings Prince Edward Heath Unit, after all their mission statement states -

    “Our mission is to enable the people in Hastings and Prince Edward counties to achieve and maintain optimal health through health protection and promotion,
    as well as disease and injury prevention.”

    Other Health Units have been involved in the debate in other municipalities, why is ours silent? I would like to hear their opinion.

  21. Samantha Stevens says:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this right. We have to destroy the earth to save it? Is that what the new Greenwash is now? Are we so desperate to keep the lights on that we will do it at any cost? Humans are a part of nature, so willfully destroying critical parts of the complex web of life that sustains us is suicidal. Maybe this particular permit to “kill, harm or harrass” won’t be the tipping point, but if we keep it up, we’ll be the ones on the endangered species list next.

  22. Lori Smith says:

    Brian Marisett says he needs a staff report to tell him what the ramifications of endorsing the Birder’s position will be? I can tell him – some people will be happy and some won’t be. Enough of the political doublespeak Brain, where you talk without really saying anything. You voted against endorsing the Birder’s position because you are for IWTs, not because you are waiting for some staff report. Your voting record on council says what you don’t put into words.

    Jamie Forrester dissented because he claims that the majority of the county residents are for wind turbines. I’ve never seen a referendum on that or heard of any survey that has concluded that in PEC. I do know that the previous council shelved a report they had requested from the Economic Development Office that showed that IWTs would have a negative effect on the county’s tourism and economy. Many of those councillors, who were pro Wind Turbines, have since lost their seats to those that favour a moratorium until proper health and environmental studies are done. This might indicate that the majority of voters are actually not in favour of Industrial WInd Turbines anywhere in The County at this time, let alone an environmentally sensitive area like the South Shore.

  23. LSARC says:

    “The best wind power is offshore on Lake Ontario, said Wood, but there is a moratorium on offshore turbines. She added there are a lot of other appropriate areas in the County and other parts of the province that would not disturb significant wildlife and would have just as much wind power. “We support the Green Energy Act and wind energy but it has to be put in the right place,”

    These two are endorsing the anti-democratic GEA and wind energy which is easily shown to be a swindle using actual performance data and evidence drawn from the European experience…

    Those of us in the rest of the province who have sustainable tourism to protect and who see the threats to wildlife throughout its range as part of our responsibility take a dim view of a parochialism which accepts needless damage to habitats and food web in intact and minimally impacted ecosystems…

    A greener future must see less industrialization of such places not more!

  24. John Portnos says:

    Great news! But the fight is far from over as the board of Gilead is trying to ram this through before the fall election. Gilead Power’s Environmental Impact Study is seriously flawed / biased. Worth reading this if you haven’t already …

    http://naturecanada.ca/pdf/Comments%20on%20Ostrander%20Wind%20-%20Nov%2017%202010.pdf

    And then everyone needs to submit comments/concerns to the MNR by June 9th….

    http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTEyODc0&statusId=MTY5Mjg1&language=en

  25. Mandy says:

    Kudos to the birding community for finally waking up to what is happening here in Ontario. The McGuinty Liberals are forcing this on communities and onto crown land because they care about the environment. This is all about big money and political favors.

  26. Mark says:

    This is encouraging if the province is listening. Did any councillors declare a conflict of interest in regards to the wind industry last evening?

  27. Gary Mooney says:

    It’s very encouraging that Council gave such a strong endorsement to Myrna’s and Cheryl’s deputation, representing the position of Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.

    Regarding the future of eco-tourism in the County, specifically birding, the presence of turbines on the South Shore will reduce substantially the number of birder tourists who come to the County.

    The Ontario Field Ornithologists conducted a survey of birders in September 2010, and found that 37% of the respondents would not visit an area where turbines are located.

    Reinforcing this, Terry Sprague indicated that he has been getting similar comments from birders visiting the County this year.

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