Take a drive through newly industrialized West Lincoln, letter writer says

Dec. 10/15Dear Editor:

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I invite you, and your readers in Niagara Region to take a drive through West Lincoln township and view the INDUSTRIAL wind turbines that are being installed there.  You will be awed by the size of these turbines, so much so, that you will never again call them “windmills”.

You do not need  a map:  just start at the Transmission Station just past Wellandport and follow the  orange stakes down Canborough, Port Davidson Road, Sixteen and Tober Road, Road 6, Twenty hwy, Road. 5 , Young Street, Walker Road, and Mountain View Road.  (The stakes can always be found opposite existing transmission lines).  These stakes are placed in the road allowance to mark  the location at which  the transmission poles will be placed.

You will also notice, on Canborough,  Port Davidson, Tober and many of the side roads, the construction of the connector lines, which are to be buried and  eventually,  bring the raw power from the turbines to the transformer station where they will be transformed into 230mw of power which will travel on the 115kw lines down the transmission lines.  Realize that all 77 turbines  will be connected by connector  lines. There will be miles of these lines criss-crossing along most of the county roads in  the township.  Plan your trip to include  Vaughn Road  to get a really good taste of the mess that the residents of these roads have to put up with, on a daily basis, knowing that the process will take until August 2016 at the earliest.

Notice I did not tell you where to find the turbines.  You will not be able to miss them.  From kms

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away you will see the activity.  If you want to see construction, visit Gee Road where the turbines are located close enough to the road for you to get a good look at what is happening at each and every turbine construction site. The security people can not prevent you from taking a good look from these two sites.

This past week a brand new interest has been added.  Drive  the proposed transmission line from the proposed Transformer station on Canbourgh and you will see bright green  florescent ribbons on just about every tree on the opposite side of  existing transmission lines.

Each and every tree that is marked is slated for demolition for  building of the transmission line.

The irony of it will almost make you laugh:  trees are natures best defense against climate change.  Trees produce CO2 which is Natures air purifier, and hundreds and hundreds of trees are being removed for a transmission line  which will produce Radon emissions and  stray voltage, as well.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide from the air and release oxygen. One large tree can supply a days supply of oxygen for four people.

Our trees, and the health of our community is being sacrificed for Industrial Wind Turbines which are not efficient, not green, not economically feasible or affordable, not nature friendly and riffed with controversy.

After you have taken your drive in the (newly industrialized) countryside, can you still say that it is worth the sacrifice of rural Ontario for the “common good”. Does this Industrialization of rural Ontario  make any sense to you?  Please contact your municipal officials and the MOECC and express your opinions and concerns to them.

Annoyance not a “disease” power developer witness tells Tribunal

REPORT ON AMHERST ISLAND APPEAL OF WINDLECTRIC PPOWER PROJECT

Location: St John’s Hall, Village of Bath

Tribunal: Mr. Robert Wright & Mr. Justin Duncan

Lawyers for

Appellant:                  Eric Gillespie, Graham Andrews, EKG, LLP

Approval Holder :      John Terry, Torys, LLP

MOECC:                    Andrea Huckins

The parties agreed on the schedule for the day. Mr. Welbanks would be heard first and then the Panel would hear the evidence from Dr. Mundt ’s response to Dr. Phillips’ Witness Statement.

The Tribunal gave a partial ruling on the December 8 motion by the Approval Holder to exclude the reply witness statements of Les Stanfield, Daryl Cowell, Kari Gunson, Roy Nagle, Shawn Smallwood, Carl Phillips and much of the reply witness statements of Christina Davy.

The Tribunal allowed Dr. Phillips, APAI’s witness, to reply to both Dr. McCunney and Dr. Mundt ’s responses to his Witness Statement. As the Panel is still conferring on the rest of the Motion, the full ruling and the reasons will be given later.

 

Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy

 Mr. Eric Welbanks was granted presenter status on behalf of Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy (“CAIRE”). He read from his Witness Statement.

After introducing himself, Mr. Welbanks talked about the organization of which he is the President and spokesperson. He explained that for the last 8 years, its mission has been to be ‘’the perpetual and sole voice for the proponents.  Mr. Welbanks told the Tribunal that CAIRE, an unincorporated organization, was made up of approximately 120 people who support the wind project and that virtually all of them lived on Amherst Island. He added that all of the landowners who will have turbines on their properties are members of the group,

He gave a brief perspective of the evolution of Amherst Island’s demography as well as his opinion on the agricultural and cultural development of the Island.

Mr. Welbanks described his organization’s involvement with the project and the actions they took to educate the members on the advantages and disadvantages of the project. He explained how they reassured themselves on health and the environment issues. He stated that he was satisfied with how their concerns were addressed by the Proponent. He added that they worked with the company on every aspect of any matter that related to their properties and raised issues of concern. He trusted that the proponent spent a significant amount of money to respond to their concerns. He said that one member of his group had been actively supporting and promoting the protection of the habitat in the Owl Woods and that some members were participants in the program to replace bird habitat. He concluded that his group had entire confidence in Algonquin Power.

The Tribunal asked questions about the financial compensation of its members and also asked clarification about the composition of the group and the different status of 120 members of the non-incorporated group. Mr. Wellbanks confirmed that they were receiving remuneration for turbines and that members of his group were direct or indirect family members and that there were all non-solicited and volunteer members. He added that all the members of the community would benefit significantly because of Windlectric’s generous contribution to the Benefit Agreement Fund. When the Panel asked his opinion on what the 120 members significance in terms of support for the project, Mr. Welbanks extrapolated on some provincial statistics to answer that according to him it would be 80% of support for the project.

Mr. Welbanks responded to a question form APAI’s lawyer by admitting that the community was divided on the issue but overall islanders were all friends. When asked if he agreed that there were better location than others for siting of the turbines, he defended the stating that the size of the project was greatly reduced. 

Dr. Kenneth Mundt 

Dr. Mundt who was qualified as an epidemiologist, listed his current and past employment. The Approval Holder’s lawyer walked him through some parts of his Witness Statement and asked him to elaborate on specific area.

After defining epidemiology, he talked about epidemiological study approaches versus other approaches. He described the many variations of both cohort and case-control studies with different strengths and weaknesses. He then discussed the differences between the case reports and case series and the use of self-reported accounts of symptoms or disease experience.

He was then asked to explain the determinants of the quality of epidemiological studies. He stated that in epidemiological studies, disease in a population is preferably characterized using measures of disease incidence vs. prevalence. He then talked about bias which refers to systematic (or methodological) errors that lead to inaccurate and potentially invalid or even misleading study results. He explained the different types and bias and the effects on studies.

In a second part he referred to his role in the Review of Epidemiology literature on wind turbines. He referred to a comprehensive review and synthesis of the peer-reviewed, published epidemiological literature specifically addressing potential health impacts of noise emissions from industrial wind turbines. He gave details of a total of 29 peer-reviewed published reports.

Finally he was asked to give his opinion on Dr. Phillips’ Witness Statement.

He concluded that based on his comprehensive review and synthesis of the published peer-reviewed epidemiological literature on the impact of industrial wind turbine noise emissions on human health identified only some inconsistent statistical correlations between the presence of industrial wind turbines and self-reported “annoyance,” but not that such exposures cause any disease or that exposure to wind turbine noise causes harm to human health, let alone serious harm to human health.

He added that while the literature inconsistently associates turbine noise with “annoyance,” the medical literature does not equate annoyance with disease or “serious harm to human health”. He added that he was unable to find the term “annoyance” in any medical dictionary, and when this term was used in the medical literature it was usually to describe the opposite end (i.e., the lowest extreme) of the spectrum of complaints. Furthermore, the 10th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) – the current compendium of all classified diseases – does not include “annoyance” as a disease entity.

On his systematic review and synthesis of the published, peer-reviewed

epidemiological literature, he concluded to a reasonable degree of scientific and epidemiological certainty that it is more likely than not that the operation of the wind turbines associated with the Amherst Island Wind Project will not cause “serious harm to human health”.

In cross-examination, he admitted never have been on Amherst Island and not having done an analysis of its population and other potential factors. He also acknowledged that he was not aware of the Island demographic. He disputed that the fact that a study that he co-authored in 2014 was biased even though a study footnote indicated that the study was funded by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)

Ontario turbine setback A-OK with wind industry-paid physician

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

December 8

 

On Day 19 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project heard the testimony of Dr. Robert McCunney, an expert witness for developer WPD.

Robert McCunney, MD, has a Boston clinical practice and is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   Funded by the Canadian and American Wind Energy Associations, he headed teams in both 2009 and 2014 that produced status reports such as the recent “Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature.”   Though not licensed to practice medicine in Ontario, Dr. McCunney has testified on behalf of the wind industry at other ERT hearings.

The Tribunal qualified Dr. McCunney as “a medical doctor specializing in occupational and environmental medicine, with the particular implications of noise exposure.”

WPD counsel James Wilson asked Dr. McCunney to comment on wind turbine sounds.  He said that noise is characterized by loudness and pitch, low frequency is associated with vibrations, and infrasound is inaudible below 107 db(A).  The last feature also occurs in the natural environment (e.g., wind and waves) and in actions of the human body such as breathing.  Turbine infrasound cannot be distinguished beyond 300m.

Dr. McCunney’s 2014 literature review, based on 162 published papers, concluded that “(1) infrasound sound near wind turbines does not exceed audibility thresholds, (2) epidemiological studies have shown associations between living near wind turbines and annoyance, (3) infrasound and low-frequency sound do not present unique health risks, and (4) annoyance seems more strongly related to individual characteristics than noise from turbines.”   Nothing Dr. McCunney has read since publication changes his opinions.

In cross-examination, APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie established that Dr. McCunney has never treated anyone complaining of turbine-related symptoms or conducted any original field research. Though he lives near a wind turbine, his home is 1500m away.

Mr. Gillespie asked Dr. McCunney to confirm the findings in several studies cited in his literature review that turbine sounds annoyed 7-18 percent of nearby residents.  But Dr. McCunney said this is similar to other environmental noise.  Moreover, he does not accept the concept of “wind turbine syndrome,” in which a number of symptoms are associated with wind turbines and disappear in their absence.

Dr. McCunney was then asked to consider the 2015 Australian Senate inquiry, which received almost 500 worldwide submissions on wind turbine noise.  He said he had not read it, but he was critical of its reliance on a range of unverified reports rather strictly published studies.  He did accept, however, the finding that the “distinction between direct and indirect effects is not helpful.”

Finally, Mr. Gillespie asked at what distance from turbines complaints would cease.  Dr. McCunney expressed confidence in Ontario’s 550m minimum setbacks.

In re-examination WPD’s Wilson asked about sleep anxiety and deprivation, which can lead to serious medical conditions.  Dr. McCunney said no study shows a causal relation between these symptoms and wind turbines.   His 2014 literature review identifies “longitudinal assessments of health pre- and post-installation” and “enhanced measurement techniques to evaluate annoyance”—but not sleep problems—among “further areas of Inquiry.”

Henri Garand, APPEC

Amherst Island appeal begins: significant impact on birds

Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds
Amherst Island is a favoured spot for owls, and other birds

The Whig-Standard, December 7, 2015

BATH — The appeal of the approval of a controversial wind energy project on Amherst Island is underway.

The Association to Protect Amherst Island is appealing to the Environmental Review Tribunal the decision by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to approve Windlectric’s application to build 26 turbines on Amherst Island.

In late August, the provincial government approved the project subject to more than two dozen conditions.

The appeal began on Friday and is to include a series of hearings between then and Dec. 22.

The association has hired environmental lawyer and University of Toronto adjunct professor Eric Gillespie to represent it.

On Friday, the tribunal heard testimony from Tom Beaubiah from the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, who spoke about potential impact on Owl Woods, wintering raptors and avian habitat.

Beaubiah requested that if the appeal is rejected and the project goes ahead, that additional conditions be placed on it to further investigate wildlife areas, relocate turbines and include the conservation authority in post-construction monitoring.

Island resident Amy Caughey also provided comment about health and safety concerns related to locating industrial components of the project, including a cement plant, laydown area, transformer station, mobile fueling, a maintenance building and construction office close to the Amherst Island Public School.

Bill Evans testified on behalf of the Kingston Field Naturalists about the project’s potential impact on bobolinks, of which there are about 2,800 on the island.

The Amherst Island project would kill more than 32 bobolinks each year, casualties that, when combined with loss of breeding habitat, would seriously threaten the bird’s population in Ontario.

Among the experts still to be called upon to testify for the association are epidemiologist Carl Phillips and biologist Christina Davy, who are to be backed by experts in hydrology, hydrogeology, ecology and biology.

The appeal comes in the wake of Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk’s annual report that showed deficiencies in the province’s electricity system that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Lysyk’s report showed the long-range plans from the Ontario Power Authority have not been reviewed and approved by the Ontario Energy Board.

Between 2006 and 2014, the electricity portion of the hydro bills of residential and small-business consumers increased by 70 per cent, according to Lysyk’s report. Included in that cost are fees paid to power-generating companies over the market price that cost consumers $37 billion over that time period. Those fees are expected to increase to $133 billion between 2015 and 2032.

Between 2009 and 2014, Ontario’s average annual electricity surplus was equivalent to the power-generating capacity of Manitoba, and the Independent Electricity System Operator predicts the power-generating capability of Ontario will exceed the province’s demand by an amount equivalent to Nova Scotia’s power needs for about five years.

 

“Serious environmental impact if White Pines proceeds” : witness

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

December 7

 

On Day 18 of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), APPEC expert witness Dr. Daryl Cowell testified that there is substantial evidence of karst in the White Pines study area and that serious and irreversible impacts will occur if this project proceeds.   WPD witness Ronald Donaldson and Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) witness Mark Phillips disputed this.

Dr. Cowell told the ERT that he has appeared as a karst expert witness before eight Ontario Municipal Board hearings, done work for municipalities across Ontario, and authored or co-authored hundreds of technical documents, including peer-reviewed papers.  He has spent 40 years studying karst, with the past 20 years focused on hazard assessment.  Dr. Cowell was qualified as a professional geoscientist with expertise in karst.

Dr. Cowell said that a major karst area runs through Black Creek Valley ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest).   Physical evidence of karst includes sinkholes and crevices (as identified earlier by area resident and presenter Doug Murphy), an artesian-like stream, year-round springs that go underground, dry wells, and extensive limestone pavements.  Turbines would be located in epikarst, the upper boundary of a karst system, close to the edge of the valley.  The access road to wind turbines T02 and T03 crosses Black Creek and proceeds through a zone of karst features including crevices one foot wide and ten feet deep.

However, none of WPD’s Renewable Energy Approval reports identified karst features, assessed potential impacts, or even surveyed water bodies except in September and October, known to be low-flow periods.

Dr. Cowell noted that mapping the watershed in a karst aquifer is extremely difficult when vertical and horizontal fractures make water flow unpredictable and boundaries are always in flux.  A storm water management plan is out of the question because it is impossible to determine the high water mark, a basic requirement for construction activities.

According to Dr. Cowell, blasting and trenching for 16 kilometres of new access roads, collector lines, and turbine bases will cause serious and irreversible harm to shallow karst areas.  Blasting and backfilling through the upper metre of bedrock will dam and divert flows resulting in permanent impacts to the surface water/groundwater regime.

WPD witness Ronald Donaldson was qualified by the Tribunal as a hydrologist.   His testimony focused on potential interference with the quality and quantity of the local water supply aquifer and groundwater.

Donaldson reviewed aerial photographs, maps and literature that show no conclusive evidence of karst in Prince Edward County.  He considers the Black Creek Valley a sub-glacial tunnel formed long ago by glacial melt-waters.  Though predicting impacts such as sediment in shallow water wells and wetlands, he said there are mitigations for the temporary effects as well as for sinkholes or fractures opened during construction.   Donaldson agreed with APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie, however, that alterations to the top three metres could impact wetlands.

Mr. Gillespie referred Donaldson to a 2013 study cited by Dr. Cowell, “Evaluating karst risk at wind power projects.”  While agreeing that karst evaluations should be done early, Donaldson said he was not qualified to speak to the study’s number one mitigation—to move the turbines.

Mark Phillips, of the MOECC, was qualified as a surface water specialist with expertise in identifying risks to and mitigation of surface waters.  Starting in October 2014, Phillips raised a number of issues about the lack of detail on project impacts on wetlands in WPD’s Construction Plan Report, the risk of impacts during construction on surface water, and the timing of surveys for water bodies.  However, WPD chose to rely on existing MOECC records rather than carry out additional field work. 

Nonetheless, Phillips considers that risks from erosion and sediment can be fully managed by the “mitigation toolbox” and the effects will be temporary.   He confirmed with Mr. Gillespie that he did not review the wetlands near turbines T27, T28, and T29 or, indeed, the Natural Heritage Assessment on wetlands.

-Paula Peel, APPEC 

Two-thirds of contested White Pines project on endangered species habitat, Tribunal hears

I'm here
I’m here

Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County

Report on the ERT Hearing on the White Pines Wind Project – Dec. 4, 2015
By Henri Garand, APPEC

On Day 17 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project heard the testimony of WPD witnesses Shawn Taylor and Dr. Paul Kerlinger.

Mr. Taylor was qualified by the Tribunal as “an ecological restoration and construction mitigation specialist.”  However, he testified at length about Blanding’s turtles because of his participation in a four-year study involving a Kanata road extension into their habitat.

After classifying the roads (paved, gravel, and access) required for White Pines, Taylor spoke about the risks from higher traffic, but he said these are minimal due to the “block-out period” on construction between April 15 and October 15, and the later infrequent maintenance visits.  Mitigations such as staff training and 15km speed limits will protect turtles.

Taylor also felt that “new roads would not increase fragmentation of Blanding’s turtle habitat.”  He described the access roads as “laneways” flush to the ground surface and therefore not a barrier to turtles.  Similarly, turtles will readily move through the nine culverts to be constructed.  The roads would also not interfere with water flow into deep wetlands, crucial overwintering habitat.

Predation of eggs and young by foxes, raccoons, and skunks is possible but could be mitigated by compaction and reduction of roadside gravel, though neither method is cited in the White Pines construction report.

During cross-examination by APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie, Taylor admitted that his witness statement is incorrect in describing most access roads as passing through ploughed fields instead of cultural meadow, alvar, and treed land. Only nine turbines are located within current agricultural fields.   The access “laneways” would be 5m wide, with brush clearance as much as 5m on each side.

Taylor also conceded that two thirds of the White Pines project lies within primary Blanding’s turtle habitat. According to a map in WPD’s Natural Heritage Assessment, wind turbines T7, T11-24, and T27-29 all fall within known turtle egg excavation or spring foraging areas.

Paul Kerlinger, Ph.D., was qualified as “a biologist with specialization in bird behavior and expertise on the impacts of wind energy projects.”   Once an Audubon Society director of the Cape May Observatory, Kerlinger redirected his career to studying avian risks from wind projects in Canada, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, and he has testified in 100 cases as an expert witness on behalf of developers.

Although stating that “all wind projects kill birds,” Kerlinger does not regard this as “serious and Irreversible harm” because the fatalities are not statistically significant at the species population level, whether measured as a percentage or by population viability models (which take into account reproductive rates, dispersal and mortality).   He said studies show that mortality ranges from 6-9 birds per turbines per year, and the upper figure applies to Wolfe Island when its monitoring records are averaged over three years.

Under cross-examination Kerlinger admitted there are different views of the appropriate geographical scale to be considered for assessing risk to bird populations.  He also conceded that monitoring results are dependent on search area size and terrain, number of predators, frequency of searches, and staff training.  Data comparison across projects is complicated by differing turbine sizes and power output.  Finally, though noting the effectiveness of such mitigations as flashing lights and turbine shutdowns, he said he had made no suggestions to WPD.

The ERT resumes Monday, December 7, 10 a.m., at the Prince Edward Community Centre, 375 Main St., Picton.

No fixes for wildlife after wind farm built: experts at White Pines appeal

Fatalaities at White Pines project could be worse than Wolfe Island, say experts--already the most dangerous wind farm in North America
Fatalaities at White Pines project could be worse than Wolfe Island, say experts–already the most dangerous wind farm in North America

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

 December 3

by

Paula Peel, APPEC

 

On Day 16 of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), APPEC expert witness Kari Gunson testified that the White Pines wind project will cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles on the Prince Edward County south shore, and Dr. Smallwood completed his testimony from Tuesday.

Ms. Gunson has worked as a Road Ecologist for 16 years and has co-authored 13 peer-reviewed published articles.   She was qualified by the Tribunal as a Road Ecologist, with experience evaluating the indirect and direct effects of roads on wildlife and their habitat.

Gunson focused on the large roadless areas around wind turbines T12 to T24 and T26 to T29.  White Pines will increase road density in habitat occupied by the Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species, and the new roads will be used by maintenance vehicles, by landowners to gain access to their property, and by farm machinery.

Moreover, Ms. Gunson predicts that upgrades to existing municipal roads, such as Babylon and Helmer, will result in more traffic and vehicles moving at higher speeds than at present.   Blanding’s turtles are at risk from vehicular strikes because they range up to 6 km, and in habitat, like the South Shore where soil is scarce, they will nest along the roads.  Gravel roads can be ecological traps where turtles are also vulnerable to predation and poaching.

Access road construction, said Gunson, can lead to changes in vegetation composition and in hydrology, with changes in water temperatures and levels impacting turtles which overwinter in wetlands.   Blanding’s turtle experts have recommended a 150m construction buffer from wetlands.  However, WPD’s approved Environmental Impact Study provides only 120m buffers and permits construction activities metres away from wetlands.

Dr. Smallwood ​continued his ​discuss​ion of his findings on Wolfe Island wildlife mortality for the purpose of understanding the impact of White Pines.  He noted that fatalities for 57 bird and bat species have been reported, more than in any other single project​ he has ever seen. It is probable that the numbers will be even higher for White Pines because of the migratory pathway.

If Wolfe Island rates are realized at White Pines, Dr. Smallwood predicts project-level fatalities up to 954 birds and 1800 bats per year.  Dr. Smallwood noted his concern with bats, which are drawn to heat-releasing vents in the turbines.  It is difficult to estimate how many small bats are killed as they are not readily detected in carcass searches.

Dr. Smallwood told the ERT that the best way to prevent harm is siting White Pines to avoid problems.  Little can be done after the project is built.   He strongly disagrees with claims by Dr. Kerlinger and Dr. Strickland, witnesses for WPD, that impacts can be effectively mitigated once the wind turbines have been constructed.

The ERT continues Friday, December 4, 10 a.m., at the Prince Edward Community Centre, 375 Main St., Picton.

MPP Pettapiece launches energy referendum petition

petition

From Randy Pettapiece, MPP:

Last week, my colleague MPP John Yakabuski tabled a bill entitled Energy Referendum Act, 2015.

If passed, this bill would mandate that local municipalities hold a referendum before large-scale renewable energy projects are approved so that residents are the ones who decide if these projects will go forward.

The bill can be viewed at: http://ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=3597.

Forced industrial turbines have been a serious issue in our communities, and I support MPP Yakabuski’s efforts to return decision making powers to municipalities and residents.

If you would like to voice your support for this bill, I have attached a copy of a petition that you can sign. I will be introducing all completed petitions in the Ontario legislature to send a strong message to the government.

Please return original copies of the petition to my office: 55 Lorne Avenue, Unit 2, Stratford, Ontario, N5A 6S4.

The petition can also be accessed on my website: www.pettapiece.ca/petitions.

Sincerely,

Randy Pettapiece, MPP

Perth-Wellington

Phone: 519-272-0660

Toll-free: 1-800-461-9701

www.pettapiece.ca

 

Wind Concerns Ontario: SIGN this petition ( you must sign a paper copy and MAIL IT) and forward to your municipal government representative as well. Return local land use planning to our communities.

Wolfe Island most dangerous wind farm in North America

The Eastern Meadowlark among several species of bird that will be harmed by the White Pines project, experts testify
The Eastern Meadowlark among several species of bird that will be harmed by the White Pines project, experts testify

Wolfe Island a killing field for birds, White Pines high-risk for wildlife experts testify

More stunning testimony yesterday at the White Pines appeal as an avian behavior expert spoke on reported bird fatalities at Wolfe Island, a few kilometres away from both Ostrander Point and the White Pines project areas.

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

December 1

On Day 15 three experts testified at the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) that the White Pines wind project will cause serious and irreversible harm to birds and bats.  All had concerns with the project location on a migratory path on Lake Ontario’s shoreline.
Dr. Michael Hutchins, Director of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, was qualified as a biologist with specialization in animal behaviour and with expertise in the impact of wind energy projects on birds and bats.  Hutchins told the ERT that one function of the Bird Smart Campaign is to educate decision-makers so turbines are properly sited.   White Pines is in a high-risk location.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends three-mile setbacks from the Great Lakes.​
Hutchins cited a recent U.S. study showing significant displacement of breeding grassland birds in mid-western states after turbine construction.  White Pines will displace protected Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, and Eastern Whip-poor-will, and the impact could easily result in local extirpation.​
Bill Evans has researched the impact of wind projects on birds and bats for 20 years.   Evans was qualified as an expert in avian acoustic monitoring and nocturnal bird migration.  He said that a number of species in Ontario, including the Purple Martin, have been in long-term decline, but Stantec did no surveys of Purple Martins during late summer when large numbers gather to roost.  Evans noted that Purple Martin collision fatalities are increasing at Ontario wind facilities and made up 6.09% of all bird fatalities in 2014, higher than in 2012.

Dr. Shawn Smallwood was qualified as an ecologist with expertise in avian wildlife behaviour and conservation.   In addition to 70 peer-reviewed publications Smallwood has done research at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (WRA), a California wind project notorious for its high raptor mortality.

Smallwood told the ERT that impact monitoring at Wolfe Island indicates the highest avian fatality rates in North America other than at Altamont Pass WRA.   Based on methods commonly used across the rest of North America, Smallwood estimates that Wolfe Island kills 21.9 birds per turbine per year.  This is nearly twice the number reported by Stantec using searches only within a 50-foot radius, less than half of standard practice.  Smallwood considers Wolfe Island one of the most dangerous wind projects on the American continent.
Smallwood predicts similar or higher fatality rates at the White Pines project because the peninsula is targeted by migrating birds as a stopover site and because the project is surrounded by wetlands and woodlands intensively used by birds.  Moreover, many threatened and endangered species occur at the site.  Stantec surveys for White Pines foster a high level of uncertainty because 19 hours of field work is so minimal that it’s impossible to know much about the large project area, and no surveys were done for migratory bats.​
Smallwood recommends that serious and irreversible harm be assessed from a biological perspective, not from population analyses.   Fatalities cause harm not only to the individuals killed but also to mates, dependent young, and social connections.  Serious and irreversible harm should not be based only on body counts.
The ERT resumes Thursday, December 3, 10 a.m., at the Prince Edward Community Centre, 375 Main St., Picton.

-Paula Peel, APPEC
ToughonNature-smaller

MNR expert on wildlife unaware of birds on County South Shore: testimony at appeal

Ummm, I don't know? Kathleen Pitt of the MNRF decides who gets to die.
Kathleen Pitt of the MNRF didn’t know there were birds on the South Shore or turtles in Prince Edward County. She decides which permits to grant for wind power

This report from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), the appellant in the appeal of the White Pines wind power project approval, is just stunning: the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry staffer in charge of issuing permits was completely unaware that the power plant site was an important location for migratory birds and home to at-risk species. In other words, she just took the wind developer at their word, and did not investigate further. No oversight on this process at all, is the only conclusion one can come to.

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project

November 30

 
On Day Fourteen the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project heard the testimony of Kathleen Pitt and Dr. Brock Fenton.

Ms. Pitt, summoned by APPEC and qualified by the Tribunal as “a biologist,” has a B.A. in Environmental and Resource Studies and is a manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MNRF).  She was responsible chiefly for assessing the Species-at-Risk report for White Pines, recommending Endangered Species Act (ESA) permits for the bobolink, eastern meadowlark, and whip-poor-will, and deciding not to recommend a permit for the Blanding’s turtle.  She explained that ESA, or “overall benefit,” permits are issued when it is possible to compensate for harm through other activities like research or habitat restoration.  Permits are not issued when avoidance and mitigation measures are considered sufficient.

Under examination by APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie, Pitt showed she was slightly familiar with the nearby locations of the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, and South Shore Important Bird Area (SSIBA), and was not at all familiar with the Prince Edward Point ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) or the Miller Family Nature Reserve.  She also admitted that she did not know the SSIBA has the highest concentration of migratory birds in eastern Ontario, has the highest concentration of migratory raptors and saw-whet owls, has high bat migration, and is a significant stopover site for migrating birds.  Nor did she know that diversity of habitat is best for migrating birds, undisturbed sites are preferred, and migrating sites are unique in exposing ascending and descending birds to wind turbines.  Consequently, perhaps, she did not agree that “the South Shore is a funnel for migration.”

For Blanding’s turtles, Pitt never consulted MNRF herpetology expert Joe Crowley.  She said she did not know if the entire South shore was their territory but conceded that Ostrander Point turtles could move offsite. Though she had not read the entire ERT decision on Ostrander Point, she disagreed that it was necessary to exclude turbines.  She felt that standard setbacks of 120m from wetlands as well as other avoidance and mitigation measures would provide protection.

Brock Fenton, Ph.D., a professor emeritus at Western University, was qualified as an “expert in bat biology.”   He said it was well established that operating wind turbines kill bats.  The mortality can be significant because bats have a low reproductive rate (one per female per year) and 60 percent of young perish in the first year.  The little brown bat is especially vulnerable due to an estimated 90-percent population drop since 2009 from White Nose Syndrome.  However, considering uncertainty about the size of bat populations, Dr. Fenton said that all species are a “grave cause for concern.”

In cross-examination Dr. Fenton disagreed with the condition in the White Pines Renewable Energy Approval that mitigation is necessary only if bat deaths total 10 per turbine per year.  He said that even one dead bat should trigger a shutdown because it is possible to use acoustic monitoring for bats and to turn off turbines when they are present.

The ERT resumes Tuesday, December 1, 10 a.m., at the Essroc Centre, Wellington.

-Henri Garand, APPEC