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.
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.
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.
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.” …
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.”
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.
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.
An Ontario court has declined to intervene in the Big Thunder wind farm project, after Horizon Wind applied for a judicial review, saying court applications by Fort William First Nation against various government ministries had created confusion.
Horizon wanted the province to approve the project, but company director of Community and Public Affairs Kathleen MacKenzie said a judge on Friday decided not to issue any instructions to the Ministry of the Environment.
“The court didn’t think it was appropriate for it to … step in at this point,” she said.
“The court elected not to order any action from the MOE — not further consultations, not an end to consultations. It just said it was not going to substitute its judgement for that of the ministry.”
But Fort William First Nation said in a recent press release the divisional court judge in Toronto denied Horizon’s request for immediate approval of the wind farm.
Fort William Chief Georjann Morriseau was not available Tuesday night for an interview with CBC News, and the MOE could not immediately be reached for comment.
The First Nation will be in court next month seeking an injunction to stop the project, pending consultations with the community.
But Horizon remains undeterred.
“We are going to continue to wait for the MOE to make a decision … And we are expecting ultimate approval of the Big Thunder Wind Park,” MacKenzie said.