Designed to fail: biologist criticizes wind farm environmental assessments

The Short-Eared Owl, a resident of Amherst Island. Are environmental assessments designed to protect wildlife? Or, not to find any?

An independent wildlife researcher with a degree in wildlife biology and 50 years experience tracking raptors, has written a critique of the wildlife assessment done by consulting firm Stantec, for a New York wind power project in St. Lawrence County.

Stantec has also been the consultant of record for environmental assessments done by many wind power developers hoping for approval of projects in Ontario.

While it is unfortunate that the researcher felt he/she had to choose not to attach his/her name to the document, the comments in it are interesting, and may point to an approval process that is geared toward success for the power developers.

Speaking generally on the surveys of raptors (hawks, eagles) to be used by Stantec for the wind power project, the author of the paper said, “they [defy] logic and are not based upon sound scientific research. These Stantec surveys are supposed to identify bird, bat and raptor usage in and around the North Ridge Wind Energy project, yet these surveys are designed to miss much of this species usage by breeding and migratory species. Stantec gives no reasoning for choosing the flawed and inadequate methodology planned for these studies.”

The author accuses Stantec of choosing to do a survey only of spring migration for the birds while birds are actually at greater risk in the fall because they are moving more slowly (there is not the push to build a nest and raise this year’s offspring), and because there are young birds making the trip for the first time. “It defies all logic,” the writer says.

As to surveys of breeding birds, Stantec’s timing is several months too late, and is very limited — a “keyhole” approach, the writer says. “This keyhole approach will miss most of the opportunities to observe nesting activities because nesting activities for some species start in January. For adult geese, this activity begins in late winter as soon as waters open up. This keyhole approach will also miss or eliminate all the vital migratory bird species data and site usage in the fall.”

Bats and the mounting kills seen at turbine sites are a concern but Stantec again designed its work for this power project to find no risk, the author says. “After all this lengthy Stantec discussion and distorted reasoning, this planned bat survey was designed to miss what is probably the most utilized and most important bat habitat located in the project site. Bats are attracted to wetlands and bodies of water because of the abundance of insects. Look at the image below and note the two reds circles. ”

The author provides a map that shows where the bat habitat is, and the study area done by Stantec.

The company’s post-operational survey work is deeply flawed too, the author says, and refers to work done at Wolfe Island, which is now known as a wind power project with one of the highest kill rates for birds in North America. But could the numbers be higher still?

The author of this paper says Stantec’s insistence on checking for carcasses very near to the turbines is giving false numbers: “The Wolfe Island studies conducted by Stantec reported hundreds of carcasses with just several reported beyond 50 meters. I believe the furthest carcasses distance reported was 59 meters. For 400 ft tall turbines this is not reality and it is simply not possible. What is possible is that 50-80% of the carcasses were not reported and this was never disclosed. The wind industry’s own data proves that any carcass hit by a turbine blade has a much better than 50/50 odds or 1 of 2 chance of this carcass landing at a distance beyond a turbines blade length.

Community groups who know their environment well have insisted that the wildlife studies being done are not realistic. On Amherst Island, for example, where more than 30 endangered or at-risk species shelter and where many thousands of migratory birds stop, the risk was determined to be negligible. In the Niagara area, the presence of a known Blandings Turtle habitat was dismissed, and the power project approved.

Once again, it appears that Ontario and the wind power industry — both well funded — are counting on citizens not to have the expertise or the resources to present the truth about wind power projects, and danger to the natural environment.

Read the paper here.

 

Comments

Notinduttondunwich
Reply

Well I guess if youre going to allow this government’s clients to walk all over you then ……
I’ve seen so many photographs of protesters politely giving way to the OPP and the government’s clients to let them in to destroy their own homes!!!!! Every time the protesters politely yield to the construction trucks!!!!
I know that there is an Elgin OPP constable who’s parents are right underneath a turdbine…. they are mad as hell too!!! Be very interesting to see this young chap have to arrest his own family for blockading the strong breeze wind project!!!
Just more conflict on top of more conflict on top of more conflict!!!!!

T3
Reply

We hear more concerns about the welfare of birds then we do about well being of people. Why is that?
Thank you DD for the comment.

Sommer
Reply

It’s interesting to realize that the processes of reporting of harm to humans and the harm to all other species are “designed to fail”. It takes detective work and sheer tenacity to identify the way in which this happens.
The harm to humans and the way in which our government has been able to deny, dismiss, delay and obfuscate the raw truth is criminal.
Thanks to all of the people who are working together to expose this.

Clear Blue Skies
Reply

The Stantec staffer at our last “community meeting” did not have a clue. When questioned about the flicker issue, she said ” just close the drapes”
Could not understand, why that was not an acceptable answer.

Notinduttondunwich
Reply

Lmfao!!!!!
“stantec” a.k.a. “stinktec”
“designed with community in mind”
Ya right!!!!
More like…….
“Stinktec”…..
” designed for the Lieberals clients against communities will in mind”
Barbara!!!!!!!!!! Stantec!!! Who are they on the dole with!!!???

Barbara
Reply

Last I checked, a Stantec Board member was also a Board member of a Canadian wind developer. That was about 3 years ago.

Notinduttondunwich
Reply

Stinktec and inveridiots at the last strong breeze wind project meeting were absolutely dumbfounded and ignrant to the fact that there were bald eagle nests in the area…. we’re gonna look into that she told my friend…
Ya right……

Notinduttondunwich
Reply

http://www.stantec.com/our-work/sectors/power-and-energy-services/renewable-energy/projects.html

Hey how come stinktec doesn’t list the strong breeze project so proudly like it does the other projects…. no mention of stinktec’s proud accomplishment of designing a wind project against the citizens will…. stinktec so proud to be a part of this “community project” should start a full public boycott of this company for ignoring so many people and real science behind whay they are doing to the people of Dutton Dunwich!!
Stinktec……. says it all!!!

Stan Thayer
Reply

Studies are designed to create employment and give those concerned an easy to understand promotion of any topic. Today, most are done using a computer and information taken from the Internet.
The final draft is usually reviewed and edited by the entity funding the project before release, similar to a newspaper or magazine.
Studies also give politicians something to quote when they have no idea what they are talking about. If no study they like is available they simply commission one. “The Toronto Star”.
Anyone can do a study, it’s getting paid that’s hard. Sometimes the studies are part of an overall contract, so, of course the study promotes the project.
You must know this!
I hold the McGinty/ Wynne government and the people of Ontario equally responsible for all the damage these IWT’s have done and will do!
It is simply another government money laundering scheme!
Stan Thayer

Sommer
Reply

Does this mean that someone could hack an entire wind farm and shut it down?

Stan Thayer
Reply

All computers have an Internet Protocol, (IP), address. If someone had nothing else to do and the desire to collect all the IP’s for all the devices on any farm, than modifications to the inputs would be possible to enable changes to the intended operations.
Passwords are like a patio door, you can see in or break the glass and enter, however, one is illegal, one is not.
Most Ontario windfarms have little or no overall benefits considering the losses to the far distant distribution station.
Hacking them would not accomplish much and possibly noone would even notice.
I am quite sure they have already been evaluated!
Stan Thayer

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