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Letter to Wynne Regarding Turbines & World Wildlife Fund

Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy

P. O. Box 147

Milford, ON

K0K 2P0

October 7, 2014

Premier Kathleen Wynne Gord Miller

Legislative Building Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Queen’s Park 1075 Bay St

Toronto, ON Ste. 605

M7A 1A1 Toronto, ON

Toronto, ON M5S 2B1

M5G 2K1

(Sent via e-mail. Hard copy to follow.)

Dear Premier Wynne and Mr. Miller:

Re: wpd White Pines wind development, endangered species and World Wildlife Fund

This letter is public and may be shared.

We are writing to request your assistance in improving governmental process for renewable energy projects. Ontario’s guidelines for siting renewable energy projects are not aligned with policies of respected organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or even with Environment Canada policies. Ontario’s standards and practices do not reflect global concern for wildlife in general and for species at risk in particular.

As you may be aware WWF has just released a new report on the state of the earth’s wildlife populations. According to WWF:

This latest edition of the Living Planet Report is not for the faint-hearted. One key point that jumps out is that the Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, has declined by 52 per cent since 1970.

Put another way, in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril.

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

In addition WWF states in its new report regarding population decline:

TERRESTRIAL LPI – living planet index

The terrestrial LPI contains population trends for 1,562 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians from a wide range of habitats. The index shows that terrestrial populations have been declining since 1970 (Figure 12) – a trend that currently shows no sign of slowing down or being reversed. On average, in 2010 – the year for which the most recent comprehensive dataset is available – terrestrial species had declined by 39 per cent. The loss of habitat to make way for human land use – particularly for agriculture, urban development and energy production – continues to be a major threat to the terrestrial environment.

http://www.wwf_lpr2014_low_res_for_web_1%20(2).pdf

It is expected that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change could issue a renewable energy approval for wpd’s White Pines Wind Project. This project is a prime example of how Ontario’s guidelines for renewable energy projects are not working.

Twelve of the project’s turbines are in the globally-significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA) and eight turbines are just outside its boundary. Five turbines are in very close proximity to a National Wildlife Area which was chosen because of its density and diversity of birds. In total, some 298 species of birds have been recorded with about 220 species being recorded during the average year. Most of these species are recorded during migration although at least 74 species nest within the area.

Wpd’s tweny-nine turbines are placed in the direct path of a major flyway that has the highest fall migration numbers of saw-whet owls in North America and the fourth highest migration numbers for raptors. This flyway receives large numbers of endangered Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. The passing of a large percentage of the Golden Eagles that reside in North America through a project of this size will imperil this population as well as other populations of migrating species of birds and bats.

The wind project is located in Blanding’s turtle habitat which includes the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block. As you may know in 2013 an Environmental Review Tribunal revoked the renewable energy approval for Ostrander on the grounds that the wind project would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles.

The wind project study area includes the Provincially Significant South Bay Coastal Wetland, 231 hectares in size, noted for supporting Blanding’s turtle as well as 17 wetlands (unevaluated by MNR) that are considered ‘significant’. 9 of these 17 wetlands qualify under the definition of Coastal Wetlands.

The White Pines Wind Project is a prime example of how proper siting of projects should be the first consideration. The document “Wind Turbines and Birds: A Guidance Document for Environmental Assessment, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service” lists 11 criteria for locations where turbines should not be sited. The south shore of Prince Edward County meets all of these criteria:

  • The presence of a bird species listed as “at risk” by the SARA, COSEWIC or

 

provincial/territorial threat ranking, or the presence of the residence(s) of individuals of that

species if listed under the SARA, or of its critical habitat. To be of concern, either the bird or

its residence or critical habitat must be considered to be potentially affected by the project;

  • Site is in an Important Bird Area;
  • Site is adjacent to a National Wildlife Area;
  • Site of fall migration of large concentrations of raptors;
  • Site is on a known migration corridor;
  • Site contains shoreline on a peninsula;
  • Site will disrupt large contiguous wetland habitat;
  • Site located close to significant migration staging area for waterfowl;
  • Site contains species of high conservation concern, eg. Aerial flight displays, PIF/CWS

priority species;

  • Site is recognized as provincially important alvar habitat type;
  • Site is adjacent to a heronry.

Environment Canada: Wind Turbines and Birds V. 8.2, p.21, 2007

The WWF POSITION ON WIND POWER 2004 states:

On the planning process for the development of wind power WWF believes that:

  • The development of wind farms should be managed sensitively and framed within regional and local spatial planning guidelines. This should include development of national, regional and local wind targets, assessing high value habitats and identifying no-go areas for wind development. In this way, any environmental impacts and conflicts with other land or marine uses would be identified and minimised.
  • Proposals for wind farm developments within IUCN 1-2 protected areas and/or national parks should not be allowed, unless a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clearly indicates that the proposed development will not cause adverse effects on the integrity or conservation objectives of statutory protected area.

 

  • Wind turbines can have a possible impact upon wildlife if sited in the wrong place and as such should not be placed in important bird nesting grounds or within identified bird migration routes, such as RAMSAR sites.

We acknowledge that there is an appeal process for Renewable Energy Approvals. However at the present time it appears futile to appeal a renewable energy approval on the grounds of serious and irreversible harm to plant and animal life or to the natural environment. The 2013 Divisional Court decision revoking the decision of the Ostrander Point Environmental Review Tribunal has ruled that the finding of irreversible harm cannot be made without population data. At the recent appeal for the Bow Lake Wind Project the Tribunal noted that:

[215] The impact of this approach is that irreversible harm cannot be shown for the numerous species of plants and animals in Ontario for which the current state of the science is such that population numbers are not well enough known for an “order of magnitude” to be calculated. Given that the finding of serious and irreversible harm is a threshold finding under the EPA, in that the Tribunal may not make any remedial order unless it is met, these species appear to be left without protection under the appeal provisions of s. 145.2.1 of the EPA. The Tribunal notes that the MNR Bird and Bat Guidelines, as well as the Alberta Guidelines referenced by the Appellant in this case, recognize the current limitations of scientific knowledge and as a result take a more flexible, contextual approach to determining harm. However,the Divisional Court ruling in Ostrander is currently the law in Ontario and is binding on the Tribunal.

Environmental Review Tribunal case Nos.: 13-145/13-146 Fata v. Director, Ministry of the Environment

The Divisional Court declared not only that population data is needed in order to make a finding of irreversible harm but that the onus is on appellants to provide this data. The Divisional Court decision has been appealed but if the decision is allowed to stand the onus will be on members of the public and small unfunded conservation groups to collect and provide population data.

It would take several years of scientific study to acquire population data on species on Prince Edward County’s south shore. The studies would have to be done however, because the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry does not possess any data on local plant and animal populations.

For the reasons identified it would be futile to appeal a renewable energy approval at this time.

The Environmental Review Tribunal process was the last line of defense for species that might be seriously harmed by renewable energy projects. This line of defense is broken. The government’s own Tribunal acknowledges that “species appear to be left without protection under the appeal provisions of s. 145.2.1 of the Environmental Protection Act.”

Clear policies are urgently needed in order to ensure the protection of species and the habitat that is required for these species to carry out their life processes.

With this in mind and understanding the government of Ontario’s desire to appear protective of the environment, the Conservancy respectfully requests that:

  • no new renewable energy generation approvals be issued until the Ontario Court of Appeal issues a decision on the Ostrander appeal. This request seems reasonable as the Tribunal is currently prevented from making a finding of irreversible harm at this time even if it believes that the project will cause irreversible harm;
  • renewable energy project developers be required to provide population data and/or that resources be provided to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry or to Nature Canada to conduct studies on population if the Ostrander appeal is allowed to stand; and
  • a review of current provincial practices and policies on renewable energy generation projects be conducted using WWF and EC siting recommendations as good practice standards.

 

We appreciate your attention to these important matters and look forward to receiving a response.

Respectfully,

Paula Peel

Secretary, South Shore Conservancy

  cc:

Hon Glen Murray, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

Hon Bill Mauro, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

André Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario

The Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy is a volunteer organization committed to protecting the flora, fauna and habitats encompassed by the South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA). The IBA includes species at risk, both breeding and migratory. It was founded in 2001.

Support MNRF Scientists & Blanding’s Turtles

Posted on

Dear SSC Members,

Very recently scientists in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) have expressed concern about the risk of irreversible harm to turtle species from poaching as well as road mortality.

Last year the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) argued and won the ERT stating that 5.4 kilometres of new access roads at Ostrander Point would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtles.  Experts brought forward by PECFN noted their concerns about the roads in relation to road mortalities, increased predation and access to poachers to undeveloped areas.

On Tuesday of this week the South Shore Conservancy board sent a letter to Premier Wynne, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and other Ministers advising them that wpd “White Pines” is proposing to construct 16 kilometres of new access roads in habitat known to be used by the Blanding’s turtle and other turtle species.

We encourage SSC members to call on Premier Wynne and all MPPs to respect Blanding’s turtles and other species at risk that use the County’s south shore.

You may wish to reference the Conservancy’s letter as a starting point for your letter, or an article on our website (southshoreconservancy.wordpress.ca).

The Conservancy continues to support the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists as they continue with their challenge of the Ostrander Point wind project at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Date to be announced.

Your letters are greatly appreciated especially when put in your own words.

Remember to ask for a reply to your letter or email.

Sincerely,

Sandy Goranson, Janice Gibbins, Paula Peel, Beth Harrington

SSC Board


SEND EMAILS TO:

Premier Wynne: kwynne.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; premier@ontario.ca;

MPP Chiarelli, Minister of Energy: bchiarelli.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; write2us@ontario.ca;

MPP Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry: bmauro.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; minister.mnr@ontario.ca;

MPP Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change: gmurray.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; minister.moe@ontario.ca;

 SEND LETTERS TO:

Premier Kathleen Wynne

Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, ON

M7A 1A1

 

Hon Bob Chiarelli

Ministry of Energy

4th Floor, Hearst Block

900 Bay St

Toronto, ON

M7A 2E1

 

Hon Bill Mauro

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Ste 6630, 6th Floor, Whitney Block

99 Wellesley St. W.

Toronto, ON

M7A 1W3

 

Hon Glen Murray

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change

11th Floor, Ferguson Block

77 Wellesley St W.

Toronto, ON

M7A 2T5

FIND YOUR LETTER HERE:

Add your name and address here; please feel free to personalize this letter as you choose. Read the rest of this entry

Watermark Movie Fundraiser at Picton’s Regent Theatre

Dear SSC Members,

You are invited to attend a special screening of the award-winning documentary film “Watermark” on Monday, January 13, 2014 at the Regent Theatre in Picton, 7 pm – 9 pm.  Admission $10*.

Cinefest has dedicated the screening of this award winning film to the Ostrander Point Appeal Fund.  The film will be introduced on Skype by producer Jennifer Baichwal.  As an added highlight to the evening County musician and songwriter Suzanne Pasternak will perform her hauntingly beautiful song Midnight Migration.

What better way to start off the New Year!  Let’s do our best to fill the Regent – weather permitting!

Sincerely,

SSC Board

Janice Gibbins, Sandy Goranson, Paula Peel, Beth Harrington

 

* All proceeds from this fundraiser will aid the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists in their legal fight against the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Gilead Power Corporation.

Ostrander Wind Developer Says Gates will Protect Turtles

From the Wellington Times

by Rick Conroy

The developer seeking to construct nine 50-storey industrial wind turbines at
Ostrander Point is now proposing to erect a series of gates on provincially
owned crown land—in a last ditch maneuver to persuade a provincial court to
overturn an Environmental Review Tribunal decision that took away the
developer’s permit to build the project in a landmark ruling issued earlier
this year.

LANDMARK DECISION

In July, after more than 40 days of hearings, the Tribunal revoked a Ministry
of Environment approval of the project in which Gilead Power Corporation
proposed to develop a nine-turbine wind project on Crown land on the shores of
South Marysburgh. The two member panel ruled that the project would cause
serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtles that reside in this
rare alvar habitat at Ostrander Point. The Tribunal concluded, too, that
measures proposed by the developer to lessen the impact of the development on the
turtles were untested and unlikely to be effective. Given that the Blanding’s
turtle is an endangered species, they decided the potential harm was too great,
and once inflicted could not be undone.

It was a precedent-setting decision— not since the provincial government had
enacted legislation to reduce the administrative and regulatory hurdles for
wind and solar energy developers had an environmental review tribunal revoked
an approval permit. Conservation groups and environmentalists rejoiced— as did
everyone else opposed to Ontario’s natural heritage being spoiled by 500-foot
towers of carbon and steel structures.

The developer appealed the Tribunal decision, along with the Ministry of
Environment, seeking to uphold the approval of the project.

THE APPEAL

Among other things, the developer and the MOE will argue that the Tribunal
exceeded its jurisdiction. They will argue that the Ministry of Natural
Resources had given the developer the ability to “kill, harm or harass” the
endangered species. And that the Tribunal lacked the authority to second guess
the provincial ministry.

Gilead Power has a lot riding on the appeal, scheduled to be heard in January
in Toronto. It is clearly not willing to risk the outcome of this project on
jurisdictional interpretation. Instead it is seeking to take away the issue
raised by the Tribunal— specifically the well-being of the creatures at the
centre of the Tribunal’s decision—the Blanding’s turtle. Once again, it has the
Ministry of Natural Resources on its side.

On January 20 the developer will seek to present new evidence to the appeal
hearing. Specifically it will ask the court to consider a plan to erect a
series of gates securing access to the road network it wants to build on Crown
land at Ostrander Point.

“Restricting public access to the access roads would also provide enhanced
protection for wildlife, including species at risk, from traffic mortality,”
wrote Mike Lord to the Ontario Ministry of Resources (MNR) in August.

In September a MNR official agreed it would issue a lease of the Crown land to
the developer to enable it to build the fence, pending the approval of the
project. The MNR also sought a “Project Access and Control Plan” for the access
roads. That plan calls for six double swing gates to be erected at key points,
one at the entrance and at five other locations where pre-existing trails
intersect with the proposed access road. The gates would be locked from May 1
to October 15. Gilead staff will monitor and enforce access restrictions.

Gilead staff will report monthly on issues of public motor vehicles bypassing
the gates.

Quoting from the Gilead access control plan: “Project staff will be trained on
how to answer questions from the public regarding the need for gated access on
the Project access roads.”

In its motion the developer will argue that it has taken these steps in order
to resolve the Tribunal’s “stated concern”. They will argue the Tribunal should
have given it the opportunity to address the issue, rather than revoke the
permit. And, that the provincial court should consider this new evidence to
satisfy “natural justice.”

Myrna Wood says the developer and the MOE have come far too late in the process
to present new evidence. Worse, she says, the developer and the MNR struck this
deal with MNR behind closed doors—without any public consultation about this
use of Crown Land.

She argues, too, that a few gates will not eliminate the threat the project
poses to the Blanding’s turtle’s habitat.

“Gilead’s emphasis on road mortality is an attempt to avoid the Tribunal’s main
concern, said Wood. “that is, the destruction of the whole habitat.”

Upping the ante, the developer has also asked the court to make the Prince
Edward County Field Naturalists pay the costs of making its motion should the
Field Naturalist oppose it.

Undeterred, Wood says Gilead’s and MOE’s intimidation tactics have not stopped
her organization so far, nor are they likely to now.

U.S. Audubon Society Alarmed Over Raptor Turbine Kills

The National Audubon Society in the United States has begun a fund-raising campaign to help save the raptors being killed by wind power generation projects in the U.S. Here is a message from Audubon VP Government Relations, Michael Daulton.

The Wind Challenge

Properly-sited wind power is a critical part of America’s clean energy future, and an important part of our strategy for solving the threat of global warming. But wind turbines can be a real threat to eagles and other birds. The same windswept ridges raptors favor for soaring are also ideal places for electricity-generating wind farms. The tip of a giant turbine blade moves faster than 100 mph—much too fast for even an eagle eye to perceive. Thousands of hawks, eagles, and other migrating birds collide with wind turbines every year. The results are almost always fatal.

Audubon was among the first organizations to raise the alarm, and to work to find the right balance between the need for renewable energy and the need to protect amazing birds like the Swainson’s Hawk and the Golden Eagle. Bird-lovers like you have been actively engaged both on the ground and at the federal policy level to protect birds and keep eagles soaring.

  • Audubon experts played a key role on a 22-person federal advisory committee that spent three years developing the first-ever nationwide guidelines aimed at minimizing the threat of wind power to eagles and all other birds.
  • As you read this, an Audubon team in Washington D.C. is in active negotiations with the wind energy industry, the White House and key federal agencies to forge a permitting process directed solely at the conservation of eagles.

Meanwhile, Audubon members are leading the fight to oppose poorly-sited wind farms and to guide wind power away from vulnerable bird habitats. Local chapters, like Golden Gate Audubon in California, have won landmark victories for birds at places like Altamont Pass in central California and other sites where turbines put eagles and other raptors at risk. These are the real heroes of Audubon, who inspire me every day by making a real difference for birds like the Golden Eagle.
We object to the idea that wind power generation is the answer to the need for power in anything but an industrial application, but we applaud the recognition of the serious and probably irreversible harm to the natural environment.
For more information, go to the website at: http://www.audubon.org


From a post by  Wind Concerns Ontario Blog

Victory for Preservation of Ostrander Point

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Blanding's Turtle winsSouth Marysburgh ON/July 9, 2013  The South Shore Conservancy congratulates the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists on the outstanding results of their appeal of an approval of the Ostrander Point wind project to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal. 

The Tribunal agreed with the Field Naturalists that this project would cause harm to the Blanding’s turtle, a turtle which is globally-endangered and threatened in Ontario. The Tribunal acknowledged that 5.4 kilometres of new roads constructed to accommodate the massive machinery needed to build and operate the nine 2.5 megawatt wind turbines would meet the test of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles. The panel also considered that these roads would be permanently open to the public and thereby create on-going risks to the Blanding’s turtle in this fragile ecosystem.

The Conservancy is impressed by the Tribunals’ concern to prevent possible future harm to the Ostrander Point site.  As the Tribunal notes, the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block is identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) [15]. “If this area were a confirmed, rather than a candidate ANSI, it would be afforded further protections under the EPA. [610] The site “has simply not yet been designated as (a protected landform) by the MNR.” [612] “The evidence before the Tribunal raises the question of whether a wind project development will prevent a candidate ANSI from being considered as an ANSI in the future. The Tribunal has considered this possible future harm to the Site, due to removal of this opportunity for long-term protection.” [613]

The process to confirm the Prince Edward Point to Ostrander Point ANSI has been stalled since 2007, when the wind project at Ostrander Point was announced.   The process has been stalled long enough.  An opportunity now exists for long-term protection for Prince Edward County’s south shore – for the globally-significant Important Bird Area, the globally-rare alvar and the rare and at-risk species like Blanding’s turtle that are imperilled by wpd Canada Corporation’s 29-turbine wind project.

The Conservancy calls upon the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources to follow through on the recommendation to the MNR made over a decade ago to consider the Prince Edward Point to Ostrander Point a provincially significant ANSI.

The Conservancy urges the MNR to pursue the ANSI confirmation process and declare Prince Edward Point to Ostrander Point an ANSI.

Ostrander Point Appeal Fund

On December 20, 2012, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources approved nine wind turbines for Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County. The area has been described as “one of the worst possible places to construct a wind farm” (Ontario Nature). Successfully appealing the approval will save critical natural habitat from destruction and protect the endangered species, species at risk and rare ecosystems at Ostrander Point.

To learn more about Ostrander Point, click here

A project of Prince Edward County Field Naturalists

Endorsed by Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, Kingston Field Naturalists, Quinte Field Naturalists, the Audubon Society (New YorkState and United States) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (United Kingdom)

blandings_turtle 

To donate to the Ostrander Point Appeal Fund click here