Niagara Region Wind farm appeal: evidence shows damage to at-risk species and protected areas

The Monarch Butterfly: laws to protect it don't seem to apply to wind power development
The Monarch Butterfly: laws to protect it don’t seem to apply to wind power development

Loretta Shields, a member of Mothers Against Wind Turbines, presented at the appeal of the approval of the Niagara Region Wind Corporation wind power generation project yesterday, and outlined the many negative impacts on species at-risk, and environments such as woodlands that are supposed to be protected under Ontario legislation.

“There are so many issues,” Shields tells Wind Concerns Ontario. “For example, there is no evidence to show that winter raptor transects were conducted within the interior of the woodlands.  Sixty-two permits are required by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.  These are still pending.   There are 20 industrial wind turbines proposed in Blanding’s turtle habitat in Lowbanks, all on private property.  There are many properties within this habitat where ‘alternative investigations’ i.e., ‘roadside surveys’ were allowed.  The MNR is allowing this to proceed.”

Shields had prepared a 32-slide PowerPoint presentation for the Environmental Review Tribunal, detailing sections of Ontario legislation that ought to be applied to protect the environment and wildlife, but are being overlooked or ignored in order to allow the power development to proceed.

Shields also told WCO she was grateful to learn about the “many birds and raptors” in the project area during her investigations and audit of the wind power developer’s application documents: “a silver lining” to this event, she said.

Details on the hearing dates may be found here.

Shields’ PowerPoint presentation may be found here: Powerpoint for NRWC Appeal Jan 26

More details on what happened at the hearing may be found in this excellent report from Mothers Against Wind Turbines here with information on how to donate to this legal action .

The endangered Redside Dace:Ontario ignored its own rules on endangered species

Little (endangered) fish deserve respect, too
Little (endangered) fish deserve respect, too

A hearing is being held tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd in Brampton as energy giant NextEra tries for Party status in a judicial review of how the Government of Ontario approved a wind power project that will affect an endangered species of fish, the Redside Dace.

NextEra is also trying to have the hearings for the review, now scheduled for March 16, 2015, moved to Toronto. Lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing West Grey residents.

How Green Is This, would appreciate your support on behalf of the residents of West Grey … and the Redside Dace.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m., at the Region of Peel Courthouse, 7755 Hurontario Street, Brampton.



Wind farm developer tried to hide bird death data

wind farm

Jenna Iacurci, Nature World News, November 19, 2014

It’s come to the public’s attention that a wind farm company operating in the United States filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to hide the number of bird deaths that occurred from their energy-saving turbines.

Pacificorp of Portland, Oregon, is seeking an injunction in US District Court in Utah to prevent the Interior Department from releasing this confidential information, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Wind farms contain clusters of turbines that can reach 30 stories tall and spin up to 170 mph. With spinning rotors creating tornado-like vortexes, it’s no wonder that migratory birds, including protected species like the bald eagle, get caught in their line of fire.

Last year, a study surfaced revealing that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats were being killed each year by wind turbines, more than 30 percent higher than federal government estimates.

This latest lawsuit suggests that that may be in part due to companies like Pacificorp trying to keep their real wind farm birds deaths under wraps.

When the government informed Pacificorp and other similar companies last month of their intent to release this information, Pacificorp then retaliated with a lawsuit filed on Oct. 17. It argued that keeping the number of bird deaths secret was actually in the public’s best interest because it will promote “open communication,” the AP reports, between it and the government.

However, the government deemed this excuse as “insufficiently convincing.”

It’s been reported that at least 20 eagle carcasses have been found on Pacificcorp wind farms in Wyoming in recent years – and that’s just on one farm. Dozens more deaths have occurred in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Nevada as well.

The dangers of wind turbines to birds – as well as bats, which confuse them for trees – is not a new issue. Back in May the American Bird Conservatory announced its intent to file a lawsuit when the federal government granted wind farm companies 30-year permits to kill eagles without legal repercussions.

Read the full story here.

Grand Valley 3rd phase approved: concerns about Luther Marsh

The Luther Marsh is an Important Bird Area, 10 km from Grand Valley Phase 3. But...wind is green, wind is good.
The Luther Marsh is an Important Bird Area, 10 km from Grand Valley Phase 3. But…wind is green, wind is good.

Orangeville Banner, October 15, 2014

More wind turbines are going to be built in Grand Valley and Amaranth.

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has approved the third phase of the Grand Valley Wind Farms project, which will see a 40 MW wind farm operating in the area when construction is complete.

According to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA), Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. has been gained permission to construct and operate up to 16 wind turbines and a 45 MVA (million volt-ampere) transformer in Grand Valley and Amaranth.

Veresen Inc., the developing partner of the Grand Valley Wind Farms, has been given a period of three years to connect the entire 40 MW facility to the grid.

Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. applied for REA approval earlier this year and received it on Wednesday (Oct. 15).

Any residents of Ontario wishing to appeal the decision to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) must submit written notice within 15 days of the REA approval.

“After a comprehensive review and consultation, the ministry has approved Grand Valley Wind Farms Phase 3 wind project in Dufferin County,” MOE spokesperson Kate Jordan said in an email. “Many of the conditions, including the requirement for a traffic management plan, noise requirements and the requirement to create an emergency response and communications plan address comments we heard from the public and Town of Grand Valley.”

Those opposing the proposal cited concerns relating to noise, health, water, safety, loss of property values and farmland, among many other issues. Some of those commenting in opposition cited the project’s proximity to the Luther Marsh Wildlife Area as a concern.

The Luther Marsh, which is considered a provincially significant wetland, is home to more than 250 bird species, several of which are considered endangered, threatened or at risk.

Some of those bird species of concern listed by those opposing the plan include bald eagles, white egrets, peregrine falcon, red-shouldered hawk and bobolink, among many others.

Officials with the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had the developer to complete an Environment Effects Monitoring Plan (EEMP) for bird and bat monitoring. The REA approval requires Grand Valley Wind Farms to implement the mitigation and monitoring methods as outlined in that plan.

“The project is not located in the marshland but the Ministry of Natural Resources did review and confirm the natural heritage assessment work completed by the developer,” Jordan added.

To view the REA decision, click here.

Read the full story here.

Ontario: insult to injury over the environment

The Ontario government published a news release today in which it claimed it is helping communities “restore” the environment, and also that complaints to its “Spills Line” are being responded to and resolved.

This is a cruel joke for those Ontario communities watching the destruction of the landscape, the altering of waterways and killing of wildlife for the sake of highly invasive wind power generation facilities. Ontario residents are told that if they have a concern about excessive noise they are to call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Line. Those who do, are less than satisfied with the response. The reports from the community on the noise from turbines is NOT included in the Ministry’s annual report on calls made to the Spills Line. There is no transparency or accountability—this has been made clear in various Environmental Review Tribunals, where Environment staff have actually testified that if the computer modelling supplied by the power developer says it “isn’t possible” for a turbine to make noise above a certain level, then they don’t even check the complaint.

Worse, the legislation has been written in such a way that noise complaints will never result in government action.

Here is the news release:

Helping Communities Restore and Protect the Environment

Ontario Supporting Community-based Environmental Projects

Ontario is using penalties collected from environmental violations to fund 12 community projects to restore and protect the environment.

Projects include restoring river banks by planting native trees and plants, protecting ecosystems from invasive species and undertaking environmental health assessments.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund supports environmental improvement projects in the watershed where a violation happened. Environmental penalties are issued to industries that have spilled a contaminant into the environment or that did not comply with regulatory requirements.

Protecting our watersheds is good for the environment and good for the economy and is a key part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Ontario Community Environment Fund grants. Applications for funding will be accepted until November 5, 2014.
  • In 2013, $113,781.20 was collected and added to the Ontario Community Environment Fund.
  • Eligible groups can apply for more than $161,208 available across 15 communities where penalties were collected.


Glen R. Murray

“The Ontario Community Environment Fund invests in communities. It builds capacity for our schools, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities to take action to improve the environment in areas where a spill or violation has happened.”

Glen R. Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Contact the Ministry here.

Reports may be filed with the Ill Wind Reporting website here.

Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)
Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)

ERT wind farm testimony: Environment officials not doing their job




Here is a report from Loretta Shields on testimony given at the appeal of the HAF wind power project by Vineland Power (IPC Energy); the hearings began on Monday this week.

For those of you that were not able to make it, Ministry officials from Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and also the Ministry of Natural Resources  were questioned and cross examined during the last two days.  A representative with the Environmental Assessment firm was also cross examined today.  Here is the damning testimony that we learned:

1.  The Ministry of Environment does not verify set back distances of the wind turbines.  They trust the wind proponent (but the turbines did not meet the required set back distances!)

2.  The Ministry of Natural Resources does not verify either the presence or absence of natural features.  For example, the size of woodlands were inaccurate in the Natural Heritage assessment report and no one at the MNR verified this.  They are not careful to review the relevant documents and corresponding versions of those documents.

3.  The Tribunal Chair identified training gaps with the environmental assessor that authored the Natural Heritage Assessment report.

So we have a problem with training, verification, process control with both Ministries and the environmental assessment firm.

Please email the ministries and show your concern.  If you have property within 120 meters of either a proposed industrial wind turbine, collector line or transmission line, please let them know that we learned that there are verification issues, training issues and process control issues.  Demand that they review the NRWC project in relation to your property to determine whether significant natural features exist and require mitigation measures.  If you live within the HAF project location, demand that they review the project in its entirety.  The HAF Renewable Energy Approval documents now lack the required integrity to provide the people in our Community with assurances that other components of the project were investigated in accordance with the REA Regulation. If you don’t live within 120 meters, please write to voice your concerns. Because once this is approved, it is a tougher battle, and time is running out!

This is so NOT right.  This is NOT how civil servants serve the people in our Community.  This is NOT how a Ministry protects our natural features.

Please help with this fight. If you could write/email in the next day or two, it would be so much appreciated.

1.  Eric Boysen, Renewable Energy Director, Ministry of Natural Resources

2.  Agatha Garcia-Wright, Director, Renewable Energy Approvals,

3.  Copy:  Andre Marin, Ombudsman for Ontario

4.  Copy:  Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner for Ontario

To Premier Wynne: No means NO on wind farms

SMM June Cover

From The South Marysburgh Mirror, August 2014:

“No” means “No

Two years ago on July 14th, 2012, in a secret ballot referendum sponsored by The Mirror, the citizens of South Marysburgh were asked the following question:

Do you want industrial wind turbines installed in South Marysburgh like the ones proposed by wpd Canada and Gilead Power for their projects near Milford and on the south shore?”

90.2% voted “No”. Those referendum results were widely publicized.

Now, over 2 years later, neither the wind developers nor the Ontario government have shown any signs of complying with the wishes of the people who still live peaceably in the neighbourhoods where developers are planning wind factories. Instead, the Ontario government and the developers continue to fight against South Marysburgh citizens, both in court and with bureaucratic processes.

To the citizens of South Marysburgh, “No” means “No”. We will not give up this fight.

Jim McPherson, Milford

Desecration of Ontario’s North by wind ‘farms’: needless


Lake Superior. Montreal River Weather Radar Station, upper right corner. Foreground, ridge where wind turbines will be places for Bow Lake Wind Farm.

Once again, we do not usually re-post from blogs but this is an excellent summary of the recent appeals of the Goulais Bay and Bow Lake power projects, together with excellent photography by Gary McGuffin.

An excerpt:

In Ontario there have been 20 appeals in opposition to industrial wind turbine farms brought before the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and 19 have been dismissed. An appeal by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists to kill the development of an industrial wind turbine farm on Ostrander Point was won before an ERT in July 2013. However, the decision has since been reversed by the Ontario Divisional Court and appellants are seeking an appeal before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

George [Brown, of LSARC] commented, “The 240 Bow Lake appeal came close to winning. Based on the Ostrander Judicial Review decision the Tribunal found that in order to prove irreversible harm it was necessary for the appellant to know the size of the populations being harmed. Having found that the 240 appeal failed to prove irreversible harm the Tribunal declined to make a finding on the issue of serious harm, though it agreed with virtually all the arguments on bats submitted by the 240 appeal.

As a result the Tribunal imposed immediate and more stringent mitigation measures on the project – a tacit admission that species-at-risk bats would otherwise be killed, which would be a serious harm.

The Tribunal’s decision is peculiar in that it allows these more stringent mitigation measures to be rescinded should they prove effective. Had the MNR required, or done, a baseline study, or had the 240 appeal had the time and money to do one, to determine the size of existing bat species populations in the project area, we would perhaps have had the final piece of the puzzle required to win.” …

Read the full post here.

Potential harm to lynx may halt NS wind farm

But in Ontario, “overall benefit” of clean, green wind trumps everything…even the environment (and common sense)

Nova Scotia seeks info on wind farm’s effect on lynx

Published July 25, 2014 – 6:05pm

A proposed $110-million wind energy project on Cape Breton could be put aside if it’s found the project will have a negative impact on the endangered Canada lynx habitat. (TED PRITCHARD / Staff)

Provincial Environment Minister Randy Delorey wants more information on what impact a $110-million Cape Breton wind energy project might have on endangered Canada lynx.

The minister said Friday he needs more information on the environmental assessment of the proposed 50-megawatt, 30-turbine East Bay Hills Wind Project near East Bay.

“During the environmental assessment review, it was determined that additional information is required to evaluate the high potential for adverse effects within the limited remaining habitat of endangered Canada lynx,” the minister said in a July 25 letter to Tom Bird of project developer BluEarth Renewables Inc. of Guelph, Ont.

“Study methodology and project scope must be developed in consultation with, and to the satisfaction of, Nova Scotia Environment and Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.”

BluEarth is developing the project, located on Crown land 50 kilometres southwest of Sydney, through subsidiary Cape Breton Hydro Inc.

“Cape Breton Hydro Inc. must use this information to better inform the proposed road and turbine layout in order to maximize avoidance of impacts to Canada lynx habitat to the greatest extent possible while balancing other habitat conservation issues such as wetland avoidance,” the minister said.

Delorey also asked for more information on the project’s effects on wetland plants and on the noise it would generate.

Cape Breton Hydro must submit the additional information within a year. The minister will make a decision on approving the project within 50 days of receiving amended registration documentation.

Bird could not be reached for comment Friday.

BluEarth owns or has a stake in wind, hydro and solar projects operating or under development in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

The company’s major investors are the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and ARC Financial of Calgary.

Read the full story here.

Horizon Wind looking at “options” after wind farm contract ended

Contract scrapped

By Leith Dunick,

View larger pictures

A spokeswoman for the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee says she’s ecstatic that Horizon Wind Inc.’s planned turbine farm in Thunder Bay might be dead in the water.

Irene Bond said she learned on Friday that the Ontario Power Authority had cancelled the Toronto-based company’s feed-in tariff contract, essentially ending the agreement to sell energy to the provincial grid.

Bond said the news caught her off guard.

“If this is the news that will end this project, that the FIT contract is indeed cancelled for the whole project, yeah it is a surprise and a very welcome one,” she said.

“I’m just thrilled that this will finally be over. We’ve been at it for five years as a community grass-roots group to educate people about the destruction and the history of the land and that it deserves better than to be industrialized.”

The OPA confirmed the contract cancellation via email on Friday, citing project delays as the main reason for the decision.

“The Big Thunder Wind Park project was significantly delayed due to force majeure events,” OPA spokeswoman Mary Bernard said. “Under a FIT contract, either party to the contract has the right to terminate the contract if force majeure events delay a project past 24 months. The OPA terminated the Big Thunder Park project for this reason.”

According to Bernard, a force majeure is a stipulation in a contract that provides relief to a party when events beyond their control prevent them from fulfilling certain contractual obligations. But it also specifies a time limit to get things back on track.

“The OPA cannot provide details of the force majeure events due to confidentiality obligations under the contract,” Bernard said.

It’s unclear if there is an appeal process available to Horizon at this time.

Horizon Wind released a brief statement saying they have provided notice of dispute to the OPA on their decision to end the contract.

“Pending resolution of the disputed issues, Horizon Wind is evaluating its options,” the statement reads.

The project was first approved by Thunder Bay city council in 2007.

A dispute with the city led to Horizon in 2010 filing a $126-million lawsuit against the municipality when council refused to approve certain turbine locations.

The city later backed down and the lawsuit was tossed.

More recently Fort William First Nation filed a judicial review against the Ministry of the Environment asking for all work on the project to stop until the community had been properly consulted.

The FWFN claim alleged the province failed to consult them about the project itself and the company’s 2013 renewable energy approval.

Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau called it a great day, but said the band won’t drop any of its legal challenges until they’re 100 per cent certain the project won’t be completed.

“It’s still slightly early for that,” Morriseau said. “Right now, today we’ve been working on trying to receive more confirmation on what this actually means for the project itself, for the REA application and process moving forward.

“Once we do receive that confirmation we’ll be sure to update both communities on the developments.”

It’s not necessarily the end of the project, she cautioned.

“It wouldn’t come as a surprise if there is an appeal,” she said, adding she thinks treaty rights must come first and be protected and will ultimately prevail.

City of Thunder Bay officials said they too are looking into the legal implications of the decision, after learning of it that morning.

“At this point we’re trying to understand what it means. We have a lease with Horizon, so I’ve asked our staff to look at it,” Commisso said, wary of speaking to specifics of the lease or whether or not he thinks it’s a good decision.   …

Read the full story here.