Ontario Nature Blog

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Keep wind turbines out of Important Bird Areas

Little brown bat by Chris Mathers

Little brown bat, photo: Chris Mathers

Taking a stand that supports Ontario Nature’s long-held position, Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller, says that wind turbines should not be built in Important Bird Areas. His recently released annual report focuses on the delicate balance between the inclusion of wind power as an important source of green energy and the conservation of biodiversity, especially sensitive habitats that support important species.

Wind power in general has become a hot-bed of controversy. Ontario Nature fully endorses the Province’s commitment to creating a clean and reliable green-energy future. But we also believe that we should not ignore the impacts of inappropriately sited wind turbines.  As an organization, we continue to repeat the same mantra: Keep the green in green energy.

Currently, Ontario Nature is actively working to keep new turbine developments out of Important Bird Areas. These areas are internationally recognized by independent scientists as essential habitat for Ontario’s bird populations.

We’ve been monitoring a proposal for nine new turbines at Ostrander Point, in the heart of the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA). In partnership with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Nature Canada, we are urging the provincial government to reject this application.

Ostrander Point is a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest that supports more than 200 different species of birds, including 14 conservation priority birds such as whip-poor-wills. Having observed the mortality rates of bats and birds at nearby Wolfe Island, where an 86 turbine wind farm was erected, we fear the toll will be even higher at Ostrander Point. A 2010 study found that on average 16 birds and 43 bats were killed per turbine on Wolfe Island, one of the highest recorded rates in North America.

While the application at Ostrander Point is still awaiting a decision from the Ministry of the Environment, the entire northeast shore of Lake Ontario is now slated for wind farm development. This would include more construction in the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA and in the neighbouring Amherst Island IBA.

Ontario Nature is not just concerned about the impacts of discrete wind farms on wildlife. We also need to be aware of the cumulative impacts of all wind turbines on bird life, bats, other rare plants and animals, as well as sensitive ecosystems.

We need to think in terms of solutions. There are lots of places the wind blows. Industry, local communities and conservationists can work together to figure out the best places to put wind farms so that we can truly keep the green in green energy.

To learn more about Ontario Nature’s approach to green energy development, click here:

onnaturemagazine.com/wind-wars.html

www.ontarionature.org/media/media_template.php?n_code=528.


Josh WiseJosh joined the Ontario Nature team in the spring of 2011 as the greenway program coordinator.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Val Luck

    How can an energy policy be called “green” when animals will die if wind turbines are erected? Birds, bats, turtles, fish and people will be disturbed by the noise.

  2. Lois Banks

    “Great Care” must be taken when choosing the locations for wind turbines.

  3. Gord Benner

    “Many environmentalists are imbued with a sense of their own exceptionalism and original virtue. But we have been dangerously wrong before.” http://e360.yale.edu/department/opinion/005/ Fred Pearce WHY ARE ENVIRONMENTALISTS TAKING ANTI-SCIENCE POSITIONS?
    “…remember the confusion over biofuels? They were a new green energy source we could all support. I remember, when the biofuels craze began about 2005, I reported on a few voices urging caution. They warned that the huge land take of crops like corn and sugar cane for biofuels might threaten food supplies; that the crops would add to the destruction of rainforests; and that the carbon gains were often small to non-existent. But Friends of the Earth and others trashed them as traitors to the cause of green energy.”

  4. Jane Zednik

    What does ’properly sited’ actually mean? This term has been bandied about without any definition. There is no proper siting for 500 foot tall machines when it comes to bird populations; each turbine has blades that sweep an area of 72,000 square feet at almost 200 miles an hour.

    The Stantec report on the Gilead project to be build in an IBA states: “No information exists regarding the effects on migrating passerines of disturbance and habitat fragmentation due to wind turbines.”

    Under the Green Energy Act proponents do not have to conduct migratory bird studies. I would suggest that Ontario Nature read the environmental assessment reports for some of these wind energy projects prepared by the proponents. They would prove to be an eye-opener. Bird surveys for a wind power plant proposed for the ecologically sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine consisted of 7 minute, that’s right, 7 minute bird surveys.

    There is no ‘best place’ for the 1000s of behemoths planned to be built across this province. Ontario Nature needs to stop parroting terms like ‘properly sited’ without providing a definition of what you mean by appropriate areas, complete with research and justification. If you want to keep the Green in Green Energy, then you must lobby to keep all industrial energy projects out of all areas of rural Ontario, not just IBAs.

  5. Segue C

    “Ontario Nature is not just concerned about the impacts of discrete wind farms on wildlife. We also need to be aware of the cumulative impacts of all wind turbines on bird life, bats, other rare plants and animals, as well as sensitive ecosystems.”

    Who might be qualified to make decisions when it has taken ON and the ECO this long to become concerned about already designated IBA?

    “If you don’t have skepticism and humility, then it’s a really short journey to go from reformer to autocrat.” Heather Brooke ( freelance journalist, freedom of information campaigner and professor of journalism at City University London )

    The Green Energy Act eroded DEMOCRACY so people can’t even protect their own stewardship efforts and now our Democracy is completely shut down!

    Anne Bell in her Wind Wars article, linked above, suggested there should be a willingness, ” to examine the facts from different angles” yet Ontario Nature does not appear to be willing itself to reconsider the Science or rather lack of it to prove the claims of proponents of wind.

  6. Segue C

    Comments like these should be part of the EXAMINATION:

    Ms Bell’s statement, in her Wind Wars article, that, “Our organization strongly supports the production of energy from clean, renewable sources such as wind. But the location of wind turbines is a key concern for us.”, is not even “seemingly” reasonable unless it is based on actual scientific proof of the validity of claims made for the allegedly clean energy. At present Ontario Nature (ON) is in the undignified position of “third party intervenor” for greed energy.

    Your allies prioritize this way…”developers should site wind facilities in areas where there is strong community acceptance. Areas home to cottages and hobby farms should be avoided, as these part-time residents usually have the means to fund challenges, and in fragile political times – or even in the best of times no politician wants to support a controversial project” ( http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/10/10/beyond-fit-2-0-whats-in-store-for-wind-in-ontario/ )

    Your opposition, like Physicist John Droz, have pointed out there is NO scientific validity in the claims made for unreliable, non-dispatchable renewables such as wind and solar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gffbO2Yd9XQ So the reasonable course of action is to halt the scam and remedy the shameful lack of proper due diligence the Auditor General revealed in his 2011 Report. ( http://lsarc.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/auditors-look-at-the-provinces-books-part-1-hardly-a-glancing-blow/ )

  7. Hi there. I am a birder who lives in Toronto, and recently, my wife, Jean, and I came upon an adult Saw-Whet Owl in north Toronto. This was the first time as birders that we had ever seen a Saw-Whet Owl, we have only waited 50 years. Fortunately, we had our camera with us and got some good pictures and video. We have received a lot of positive feed back, regards our pictures, and video, from across North America. For anyone interested in seeing them, they are posted at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-northern-saw-whet-owl-sighting

    • Brett

      Hi there, I share your love for owls, and will never forget when I first saw a Saw-whet. While your photos are lovely, I noticed that you got awfully close. It may not seem like it, but that is very stressful for an owl that is trying to rest so that it can hunt at night. Not to mention that you are drawing attention to a tiny animal that is desperately trying to conceal itself from predators. Please, please read this article and invest in good binoculars and a telephoto lens so you don’t have to get so close to get a good look.

      http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/sensitive_species

  8. Segue C

    Surely there must be some consideration of the historical range and habitat for all avian populations otherwise recovery campaigns are just feel-good tokenism.

    Sadly many areas, which should be protected to welcome survivors home, are being turned into new and ever expanding “sacrifice zones” for the illusion of green energy.

    People in this area http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2012/11/27/nextera-turbine-within-100m-of-active-bald-eagle-nest-in-haldimand-county/ have long protected a wetland under a MNR stewardship program but must now watch their success turn into a nightmare of betrayal.

  9. Gord Benner

    And now you know the rest of the story …

    http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2013/01/07/wind-turbine-company-nextera-mnr-destroy-bald-eagle-nest-habitat/#comments

    I’m still waiting to kow what “proper siting” means. This is digusting!

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