Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Big Thunder is the subject of several legal actions, including that by the Fort William First Nations; the First Nation claims there was not adequate consultation for this project with their people. Other concerns have been raised over the years about environmental damage and the potential to kill fragile wildlife populations. Full approval of the project was put off until after the recent Ontario election.
We understand that Transport Canada has recognized the seriousness of the situation in Ontario as regards aviation safety and wind turbines being built around airports. A committee has been struck and is now looking at recommendations and phasing in action.
Not a minute too soon.
The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) has been sounding alarm bells on this issue since 2009. Last year, CEO Kevin Psutka was engaged in correspondence with power developer wpd Canada over safety concerns at the Collingwood airport (See correspondence string here) and at one point accused the developer of “hiding” behind a consultant’s report on aviation safety that was actually prepared on the basis of very limited parameters.
In a note written in 2013, Mr Psutka states, “At least there has finally been an acknowledgement of the gap in the regulations. Transport Canada does not have to act on the recommendation but we can use this statement to further highlight to the provincial government that a ‘no objection’ statement from Transport Canada does not mean ‘no impact on aviation’. There should be a buffer zone around aerodromes and COPA made a recommendation during the development of the Green Energy Act to ensure that as part of every proposed project a thorough investigation is performed with a goal to minimize the impact on aviation. The gap in federal regulations, acknowledged by the Transportation Committee, indicates that until such time as Transport Canada makes the appropriate regulatory changes to protect aviation, the province has an important role to play in ensuring that the air transportation system, including smaller airports and aerodromes, is not adversely affected by windfarms.
“This is a safety and social issue that to date has not been given appropriate attention by the federal or provincial governments,” Mr Psutka concluded in his March, 2013 email.
This is another issue, like putting turbines where they will kill migrating birds, or bats which are so important to agriculture, or putting turbines next to homes and schools, that one would think would be governed by common sense, if not loftier ideas like the Precautionary Principle.
But it isn’t, not in Ontario, where you have government officials actually saying that the “overall benefit” of wind power generation trumps every other concern. Health, safety, even the environment–wind power beats all.
If the Ontario government won’t protect the people of Ontario, it is high time someone else in government did.
Deadly wind farms give bats “the bends” study says
Western Morning News, July 23, 2014
Bats suffer from an airborne version of the diver’s condition known as “the bends” when they fly too near wind turbines, experts have claimed.
Concern for the welfare of the creatures has already prompted dozens of challenges to schemes in the Westcountry.
The RSPB lodged an objection against Somerset’s first multi-turbine wind farm at West Huntspill – which is was eventually dismissed by the Secretary of State but is now subject to a High Court appeal by developers Ecotricity.
The bird charity claimed it was in a “flight path” for birds and bats which could hit the rotor blades.
Now Queen’s University Belfast has unearthed another potential problem, namely that pressure from the turbine blades causes a similar condition as that experienced by divers when the surface too quickly.
Conservationists have warned that the bodies of bats are frequently seen around the bases of turbines, but it was previously assumed they had flown into the blades.
Dr Richard Holland claims that bats suffer from “barotrauma” when the approach the structures which can pop their lungs from inside their bodies.
He said energy companies should consider turning off turbines when bats are migrating.
“We know that bats must be “seeing” the turbines, but it seems that the air pressure patterns around working turbines give the bats what’s akin to the bends.
“It’s most common in migratory species, with around 300,000 bats affected every year in Europe alone. You just find bats dead at the bottom of these turbines. One option is to reduce turbine activity during times of peak migration.”
The team at Queen’s University also found that bats use polarised light to navigate as well as echo-location.
Greater mouse-eared bats were shown to react to the way the sun’s light is scattered in the atmosphere at sunset in order to calibrate their internal magnetic compass, in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers said a huge number of animals including bees, dung beetles and fish use this system as a form of compass, but bats are the first mammals to do so. They said they remained baffled as to how bats achieve this feat.
The finding adds to a growing list of systems used by bats to navigate including echolocation or sonar, the sun, stars and the Earth’s magnetic field, as well as smells and sight.
Stefan Greif of Queen’s University, lead author of the study, said: ‘”Every night through the spring, summer and autumn, bats leave their roosts in caves, trees and buildings to search for insect prey.
Editor’s note: the Ministry of Nothing Refused—er, Natural Resources in Ontario requires that wind power developers only measure bat ranges a few meters from turbine locations, not the hundreds of kilometers the animals actually travel. But in the words of the Ministry of Environment’s lawyer Sylvia Davis, “so a few animals are killed and a few people get headaches…wind power is an important public infrastructure project.”
Nor’Wester Mountain Range and Loch Lomond Watershed Reserve
Nor’Wester Mountain Range and Loch Lomond Watershed Reserve – Blake Township, Neebing, ON – WIND TURBINES TRUMP CULTURE AND NATURE
This pristine cultural and natural landscape is the site of a proposed industrial wind turbine development—another potential victim of the provincial government’s crusade for renewable energy projects at any cost.
Why it matters
The ancient Nor’Wester Mountain Range rises dramatically above Lake Superior and extends southward from the city of Thunder Bay toward the Ontario-Minnesota border. It defines the city’s setting and skyline, and is immensely important to the Anishinabe community of the Fort William First Nation (FWFN). Mount McKay (“Thunder Mountain” or Animikii-wajiw in Ojibwe) has been a landmark gathering place by the Ojibwe Anishinabeg for many generations. Their presence at this locale long predates the arrival of European traders who established trading posts nearby, first in 1684 during the New France era and again in 1803 with the construction of the North West Company’s Fort William. The range provides habitat that is essential to moose, Eastern cougar, and other flora and fauna unique to this provincially important ecosystem, and the Loch Lomond watershed is an important freshwater resource for the region.
The range remains important for cultural, ecological and aesthetic reasons and plays a vital role in the area’s recreational and tourism economy.
Why it’s endangered
Horizon Wind Inc. is proposing the development of an industrial wind turbine installation called Big Thunder Wind Farm on a portion of the Nor’Wester Mountain Range land owned by the City of Thunder Bay (located between and on the Loch Lomond Watershed, First Nation Traditional Territory and the provincially declared Area of Natural and Scientific Interest), a project that would see sixteen 139-metre-high, 32-megawatt wind turbines erected on the Nor’Wester’s skyline south of Mount McKay.
FWFN believes the wind farm project will have a deleterious effect on the watershed, on the long-standing cultural heritage values of its people, and on essential habitat.
Where things stand
The Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee (NMEPC) was created in 2009 with the mission to “protect the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment from development that has the potential to harm the natural environment and the health of the residents.”
Although the project was first conceived in 2005, members of FWFN and Signatories of the Robinson Superior Treaty have expressed concern that the “duty to consult” was not undertaken to their satisfaction by either the proponent company or the Crown.
Despite FWFN’s objections, the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process (established under the Environmental Protection Act) proceeded, with the comment period ending in June 2013.
In May 2014, Horizon Wind Inc. filed an application for a judicial review in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice with the aim of compelling the Ministry of the Environment to issue the REA, but the court declined to intervene in the project.
In June 2014, FWFN filed for an injunction against the Ministry of the Environment and other provincial ministries to prevent the Province from allowing activity on their Treaty Lands and from issuing a REA for the Big Thunder Wind Project until a commitment is made to protect their Treaty Rights. Meanwhile, it is reported that Ontario’s legal counsel continues to oppose delaying the final approval process or disclosing requested project information on the grounds that it would impede the final project approval decision-making process.
Almost everyone loves birds and this is the season for bird watching. Recent articles in newspapers such as The Ottawa Citizen have noted sightings of beautiful bird species such as the Lark Bunting on Amherst Island, and also of the concern for the Purple Martin population.
The proliferation of wind ‘farms’ along Ontario’s shorelines—Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Superior—is of grave concern to everyone in Ontario who is a true environmentalist. Other sensitive areas such as the Luther Marsh, are also being encroached upon by wind power development, despite federal government guidelines which clearly advise against siting power projects in such areas.
An article in the London Free Pressrecently made note of how critical Important Bird Areas or IBAs are to conservation of the natural environment and wildlife…but there was not one word about the IBAs threatened by wind power all over Ontario. The Ministry of the Environment lawyer Sylvia Davis remarked at the appeal of the Ostrander Point decision in January that, it doesn’t matter if a few birds or animals are killed—“wind power is an important public infrastructure project” that outweighs everything.
We think lots of other citizens of Ontario do, too.
Oak Ridges Moraine wind project a threat to Ontario’s water
The provincial government should revoke its approval of a wind project on the Oak Ridges Moraine and stop allowing development to take precedence over the protection of our water
By: Maude Barlow and Cindy Sutch Published on Mon Jul 07 2014, Toronto Star, Comment
The Sumac Ridge wind project is the first industrial wind project approved on the environmentally sensitive and protected Oak Ridges Moraine, the rain barrel of southern Ontario. The approval sets a precedent to open up the Oak Ridges Moraine for other wind projects and industrial development of all kinds. The project is currently under appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal and has received a record number of 43 requests for status from community and First Nation groups.
Sumac Ridge is one of five proposed wind projects on the Oak Ridges Moraine that residents have been fighting for the last five years. Community members have spent significant amounts of time and money trying to protect and preserve the moraine. When the Sumac Ridge wind project was posted on the Environmental Registry, 2,874 comments were registered. Frustration with the process is mounting along with the fees of lawyers and experts hired to prepare for the Environmental Review Tribunal.
While wind power is a sustainable green energy alternative to the environmental harms associated with fossil fuels, as with every industrial development, it can have important impacts in vulnerable areas and these must be fully assessed. The Sumac Ridge project and the other proposals will require the construction of access roads, clear-cutting of significant woodlands and the delivery of thousands of truckloads of gravel, sand and concrete onto the moraine. The Oak Ridges Moraine is one of the last continuous green corridors in southern Ontario. The remnants of tall grass prairie and oak-pine savannas in the eastern portion of this ancient landform are globally threatened ecosystems and may be impacted by wind development.
The Sumac Ridge wind project will be located in a part of the moraine that provides both terrestrial core and corridor habitat and is a critical refuge for birds, bats, threatened and/or endangered plants and animals, and numerous species at risk. Most importantly, it is a high aquifer vulnerability zone, a groundwater recharge area and at the headwaters of the Fleetwood Creek and Pigeon River. The Ministry of the Environment must revoke its approval of the Sumac Ridge project and stop allowing industrial development to take precedence over the protection of our water.
There is no time to lose. The world is running out of accessible clean water. We are polluting, mismanaging and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. We need a new water ethic that places water and its protection at the centre of all policy and practice if the planet and we are to survive.
This new water ethic should honour four principles.
The second principle is that water is a common heritage of humanity and must be protected as a public trust in law and practice. Water must never be bought, hoarded, sold or traded as a commodity on the open market and governments must maintain the water commons for the public good, not private gain.
The third principle is that water has rights, too, outside its usefulness to humans. Water belongs to the earth and other species. Our belief in “unlimited growth” and our treatment of water as a tool for industrial development have put the earth’s watersheds in jeopardy. Water is not a resource for our convenience, pleasure and profit, but rather the essential element in a living ecosystem. We need to adapt our laws and practices to ensure the protection of water and the restoration of watersheds, a crucial antidote to global warming.
Finally, while there is enormous potential for water conflict in a world of rising demand and diminishing supply, water can bring people, communities and nations together in the shared search for solutions. Water can become nature’s gift to humanity and teach us how to live more lightly on the earth and in peace and respect with one another.
Let it start in our own backyards.
Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and served as senior adviser on water to the 63rd president of the United Nations General Assembly. Cindy Sutch is the Chairperson of Save The Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition in Ontario and a Director of The Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation.
Here from yesterday’s appearance by Anne Dumbrille of Prince Edward County, a director with the community group the County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy or CCSAGE Naturally Green, is a podcast of the interview.
Dumbrille obtained documents via FOI that show the wind power developer, even with very limited survey data, knew there is a danger to the at-risk Golden Eagle, and covered it up; the company’s report was never made public.
Putting a “backpack” on an unwilling purple martin is just about as tricky as it sounds. Yet Nature Canada hopes doing so might shed light on the calamitous decline in the birds’ numbers in Ontario in recent years.
“The population is just plummeting,” Nature Canada spokesman Paul Jorgenson said Tuesday at the Nepean Sailing Club, where one of the largest colonies of purple martins in the region nests in two highrise “bird condos.”
Since 2005, the number of purple martins in Ontario has dropped from about 25,000 to an estimated 15,000 today. Similar declines have been recorded across Eastern Canada and the American northeast.
Purple martins — which nest only in man-made houses throughout much of North America — are the largest of nine swallow species that breed in Canada and the United States.
“We have no idea whether the problem lies here, in their wintering grounds (in Brazil) or somewhere in between in transit,” says Jorgenson. “This is really one of these big mysteries that we’re trying to solve.”
To that end, Nature Canada, in partnership with York University and the University of Manitoba, has launched an initiative to track 65 purple martins from Ottawa and the Kingston area. …
Some of their roosting spots are along eastern Lake Ontario, including Wolfe Island, home to a large array of industrial wind turbines.
According to some studies, those turbines kill 50 to 100 purple martins annually, Cheskey said. “That’s a pretty high proportion.”
With more wind farms proposed on nearby Amherst Island and Prince Edward County, which are also on the migration flyway, the threat could increase.
Winds farms, says Cheskey, “just can’t go everywhere. There should be certain no-go zones.” If turbines start killing birds and damaging biodiversity, “to me it’s no longer green energy,” he says.
Read the full story and take the opportunity to comment here.
I would like to congratulate you in your re-election and as the new Minister of the Environment. I was impressed to see your experience as Minister of Transportation and as a former mayor. At the same time I understand what challenges you will be facing in this new position dealing with the incompetence you are inheriting within that department, handed down through the entire inappropriate process created in the Green Energy Act.
This Act took away municipal powers and sidelined 21 other Acts of protection for the environment, human and wildlife habitat for the sake of wind energy development as first priority. This is also why the Liberals are facing a rebellion in rural Ontario by residents who have been ignored and bullied with no consideration as citizens in this province. I would like to suggest that you now have the opportunity to start the change of perception of your political party by doing the right thing.
First of all, you need to give back municipal powers.
Secondly, you need to cancel projects such as the Port Ryerse Windfarm that are suspect to violating any of the environmental or heritage protections within the Green Energy Act or perceived to have possible health problems for people in the area.
Thirdly, you need to change the setbacks to a minimal 2 km. from any residence.
This will be a start. I would also suggest that you back away from wind energy altogether because of the associated problems. I live in Port Ryerse, Norfolk County where we have had wind turbines since 2003 in the west part of the County. We saw the problems of IWT’s as the early experiments with wind energy were being made. We know firsthand about their inefficiency as an energy source, the way many people got sick and had to leave their homes or couldn’t sell them and sometimes sold at a huge loss as well as the inappropriate setbacks for these monstrosities. We now have another project on the eastern part of the County with 13 turbines right around a new development for retirement living, with a golf course to come and a beautiful spa and restaurant. Very sad for the people who bought there or those already living there when it comes time to sell their homes as they have already lost 25-40% of their value which is now common anywhere these things have been built. From the pier in Port Ryerse looking over the water landscape one can actually count 36 of these ugly blights on the landscape over Port Dover including the ones in Haldimand County.
Now we are in the process where you get to approve or cancel a project smack dab in the middle of the County’s lakefront to destroy entirely the landscape of Norfolk County right within the inner Bay of Long Point across from a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve and a cultural heritage landscape which was delineated in a report done for our County back in 2006 called the Untermann-McPhail report or now renamed the Lakeshore report.
Again this information has been sidelined because of the Green Energy Act and taking away municipal powers. In Norfolk County, as with many other areas of rural Ontario, we have many rivers and old dams in need of repair. We also have a local company called Green Bug out of Delhi, Norfolk County putting in hydroelectrical facilities with the Archimedes Screw around the world. They presently have a F.I.T. contract and are awaiting approval from the M.O.E. Our Council and our Heritage Committee I sit on have approved this project we deem to be safe, viable and not interfering in wildlife or human habitat. This is the kind of project we favour for our municipality and we have many other dams in need of repair this could be adapted to.
We do not want to be bullied into any more wind energy which will destroy our lakeshore landscapes and tourism as well as kill our eagles and songbirds and harm our residents and their property values. We also have 3 solar farms which already provide plenty of energy on the grid and have not posed the scale of problems like wind. The municipalities need their powers back to site appropriate electrical facilities according to their own resources and long-term plans.
Attached are some of the reports sent in to the environmental assessment group Stantec and to the M.O.E. to provide information that was not found in any reports of the wind company, UDI Renewables or Boralex. The application was flawed from the beginning when UDI made his application for the F.I.T. contract stating that this project was ”purely surrounded by agricultural land with no significant waterways, heritage or wildlife”. How can anyone miss Lake Erie? At the first public meeting with the company I asked, “What about that eroding cliff?” The answer I got from Uwe Sandner of UDI was, “What cliff?” Our cliff has been dangerously eroding over the last 100 years and especially in the 70’s and 80’s with the high waters of Lake Erie. It is a bluff of 50 feet deep which is seen from Port Dover’s pier by many tourists and locals as an iconic landscape which gave the town its name based on the “White cliffs of Dover”.
I would really like to see an end to the battle between the GTA Liberals and the rest of the province. It is time to end the war against rural Ontario. You have this opportunity. Will you side with the people or the bully money-hungry wind companies with more tribunals and lawsuits? It is time to give back municipal powers, respect those that have declared themselves “Not a Willing Host”, and save Historic Port Ryerse and rural Ontario from more devastation and energy poverty.
We will await the decision from the M.O.E. with the hope that finally there will be a change within the newly elected provincial government to start listening to and respecting its citizens and that this project and others will be CANCELLED utilizing your powers to do the right thing.
Government’s timing of document release suspicious; community to report to the Ombudsman of Ontario
July 7, 2014
A Prince Edward County citizens’ group, the County Coalition for Safe Appropriate Green Energy (a Not For Profit organization) or CCSAGE, has documented the failure of a wind power developer and the Ontario government to disclose the truth about the impact of a proposed wind power project on migrating Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagle has been designated a “species at risk” in Ontario.
According to the CCSAGE document, prepared by Anne Dumbrille, although only six nesting pairs have been identified in Eastern Ontario, the fact is the majority of Golden Eagles migrating throughout Eastern North America, pass through the narrow area in Prince Edward County.
But: ” wpd [the power developer] surveys reported an average of four Golden Eagles a day on each of the three days they surveyed,” says Dumbrille, “and most were flying at the wind turbine blade height. We know from information in the Species At Risk report and from the Ministry of Natural Resources website, that most, if not all, the Eastern North American population of Golden Eagles will pass through the turbine zone, if they are permitted on the south shore of Prince Edward County.
“It will be a killing zone,” Dumbrille adds.
CCSAGE contends these facts were not made available to the public during the comment period on the project and that, despite a requirement to respond to Freedom of Information requests within 30 days, CCSAGE did not receive the information it requested on the developer’s Species At Risk report until the first business day after the comment period had closed.
“Environment Canada has a guidance document (Wind Turbines and Birds) that lists 11 criteria for a site where turbines should not be sited,” says Dumbrille. “All those criteria are met in the south shore of Prince Edward County.”
CCSAGE says its findings call into question the so-called technical review conducted by both the ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Wind Concerns Ontario will be submitting the CCSAGE report with the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario today, as part of an ongoing complaint process related to fairness and transparency of the wind power project approval system in the province.