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Ontario wind company seeks permit to kill endangered species

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Information Notice:   EBR Registry Number:   011-3181

Title:
Permit under section 17 of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) to allow Gilead Power Corporation to kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will as well as damage and destroy the habitat of Whip-poor-will for the purpose of the development and operation of Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park in the Township of South Marysburgh, Prince Edward County

Ministry:
Ministry of Natural Resources

Date Information Notice loaded to the Registry:
May 10, 2011

Members of the public are invited to submit their written comments by June 9, 2011 to Paula Norlock, Agreement Specialist
Ministry of Natural Resources Policy Division
Her complete address and phone number are at the bottom of this post.

Please email comments to esa.permits.agreements@ontario.ca and quote ER number 011-3181 in the subject line.

  Keyword(s):   Compliance  |  Electricity  |  Fish and Wildlife  |  Land use planning  |  Conservation

This notice is for your information. The Environmental Bill of Rights does not require this notice to be placed on the Environmental Registry, however, section 6 of the Act does allow the Environmental Registry to be used to share information about the environment with the public.

Rationale for Exemption to Public Comment:

This proposal is exempted by Ontario Regulation 681/94 under the Environmental Bill of Rights as a classified proposal for an instrument, because the species that would be specified in the permit is an animal and the authorization would apply to an activity on Crown Land.

Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is voluntarily posting this notice to advise the public of the proposal and to invite the public to submit written comments on this proposal to the contact person identified in this notice.

Description:

Gilead Power Corporation has applied for a permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) to kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will as well as damage and destroy the habitat of Whip-poor-will for the purpose of the development and operation of Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park in the Township of South Marysburgh.

The proposed Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park would consist of 9 wind turbines, up to 22.5 MW installed capacity, and is expected to produce enough electricity for approximately 6,000 homes. The project is proposed on 324 hectares of Crown land, along the shores of Lake Ontario, in Prince Edward County.

Decision:

This notice will be updated when more information is available.

Purpose of the Notice:

The purpose of this notice is to ensure that the public is made aware of, and given an opportunity to comment on, the proposal, including the proposed conditions and outcomes of the permit for which the applicant is applying in order to kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will as well as damage and destroy the habitat of Whip-poor-will for the purpose of the development and operation of Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park in the Township of South Marysburgh, Prince Edward County. The proposed permit would be issued under section 17 of the Endangered Species Act 2007.  No MNR permits or authorizations will be issued until the Renewable Energy Approval has been issued by MOE.

Other Information:

Both Whip-poor-will (Caprimlugus vociferous) and Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), are listed as threatened on the Species at Risk in Ontario List in Ontario Regulation 230/08 (O. Reg. 230/08) of the ESA. Clause 9 (1)(a) of the ESA provides that no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture or take a living member of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as extirpated, endangered or threatened.

Whip-poor-will currently has general habitat protection under the ESA. Clause 10(1)(a) of the ESA provides that no person shall damage or destroy the habitat of a species that is listed on the Species at Risk inOntariolist as an endangered or threatened species.

The Minister of Natural Resources may issue a permit to an applicant under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA that authorizes the person to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by section 9 or 10 of the ESA if the Minister is of the opinion that the main purpose of the activity authorized by the permit is not to assist in the protection or recovery of the species specified in the permit, but,

  • (i) the Minister is of the opinion that an overall benefit to the species will be achieved within a reasonable time through requirements imposed by conditions of the permit, and,
  • (ii) the Minister is of the opinion that reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not adversely affect the species, and the best alternative has been adopted, and,
  • (iii) the Minister is of the opinion that reasonable steps to minimize adverse effects on individual members of the species are required by conditions of the permit.

An overall benefit to both species would be achieved through the following activities:

  • Proponent to acquire and manage a property outside the project area (that meets appropriate criteria as defined by the Ministry of Natural Resources) for the habitat preservation, rehabilitation and/or improvement of both Blanding’s turtle and Whip-poor-will.
  • Publication of Whip-poor-will survey methodology and the results of pre-construction monitoring 
  • Financial support to fund graduate research related to Whip-poor-will for one of the following subjects of interest: variation in nesting success rates with proximity to turbines, variation in fledging dates with proximity to turbines, variation in territory size with proximity to turbines, foraging behaviour differences in response to turbines, and site fidelity. This research would be peer-reviewed and published.
  • Beyond standard species monitoring, a benefit to the species will be achieved through value added monitoring for multiple years on both the newly acquired property, as well as the windpower site, to gather new information and knowledge about Blanding’s Turtles and how they use their habitat. Value added monitoring being considered includes; successful techniques and methods to restore damaged Blanding’s Turtle habitat, movement patterns between life-cycle sub-habitats such as hibernation and nesting. Other value added monitoring efforts are being considered byGilead and will be agreed upon with the MNR district. Reports summarizing monitoring results will be submitted to MNR annually.

Reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not adversely affect both species and the best alternative was chosen in considering six different site layouts to eliminate or reduce adverse impacts to Whip-poor-will and its habitat and Blanding’s Turtle. The best alternative to balance the development plans and achieve overall benefit for Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle was selected. Construction windows were adjusted to avoid adverse impacts to species during the active season.

Reasonable steps to minimize adverse effects on both species would be taken and addressed as conditions of the proposed permit. Reasonable steps for both species include; education of workers and staff about Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle; speed limit signage would be installed and limits of 30km/h would be implemented on roads; prior to construction, the limits of vegetation clearing would be staked out where appropriate to ensure that no construction disturbance occurs beyond the staked limits; best management practices would be implemented for dust, spills and waste collection; educational signage would be installed where appropriate; speed bumps on roads with appropriate signage would be installed after construction and during the life of the operations to decrease potential for collisions with Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle; road maintenance would be completed at an appropriate time of year (outside nesting season) and include avoidance of chemical spraying; construction window (October – April) would avoid most critical life cycle periods for Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle; most construction would occur in areas not containing habitat which supports breeding; and mortalities and species sightings would be recorded and reported both during construction and operation/maintenance.  Nesting habitat will be strategically created on the eastern side of the proposed windpower site to minimize the likelihood of Blanding’s Turtles being attracted to the roadway to lay their eggs. This would reduce new road mortality for adult and hatchling turtles after the roadways are upgraded.

The web links on the right side of this notice provide additional information.

Contact:

Paula Norlock
Agreement Specialist
Ministry of Natural Resources
Policy Division
Species at Risk Branch
300 Water Street
Floor 2
Robinson Place South Tower
Peterborough Ontario
K9J 8M5
Phone: (705) 755-1788
Fax: (705) 755-5483

Additional Information:

The documents linked below are provided for the purposes of enhancing public consultation.
All links will open in a new window

1. Endangered Species Act, 2007

 2. Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List,
Ontario Regulation 230/08

3. MNR’s Species at Risk website

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