MOECC refuses to reconsider appeal of Gunn’s Hill power project to save endangered bats
July 27, 2016
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is refusing to reconsider the situation at a Norwich Township wind power project, where it was acknowledged during the appeal last year that the endangered Little Brown Bat was present, and would die as a result of the presence of wind turbines.
The MOECC instead relies on its Renewable Energy Approval process and told the East Oxford Community Alliance in a letter that “post-construction protocols have been prepared in accordance with the MNRF guidelines. The applicant is required to conduct mortality surveys for a minimum of three years once the wind farm is operational.”
Local resident and Alliance member John Eacott told the Woodstock Sentinel-Review there isn’t much point in conducting surveys to find out how many animals you’ve killed, then trying to figure out how to fix the situation. The group had referenced the Environmental Review Tribunal decisions from the White Pines appeal (Hirsch vs. the MOECC) and Ostrander Point in its filing with the MOECC, saying that the new understanding about the endangered bats was that there are so few of the animals left that any deaths will result in serious and irreversible harm.
The precautionary principle must be applied, as the government balances its renewable energy program with the need to protect the natural environment.
“You can’t have two sets of rules for different sites,” said Eacott.
Bird Studies Canada released a report earlier this month that showed an astounding number of bats are being killed by Ontario’s wind turbines — in fact, 77% of the bats killed by wind power projects in Canada, were in Ontario. The average was 18 bats killed per turbine. Prowind’s threshold for bat mortality is actually 10 bats per turbine, according to its Renewable Energy Approval.
The community group also wrote to the Environmental and Lands Review Tribunal demanding that the appeal be reopened. The Tribunal’s response was that the appeal date has passed and the group’s only recourse now is to go to Divisional Court.