RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: January 2013

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

Biodiversity Not Important in Wind Debate

By Terry Sprague

The unbelievable foibles of both the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment have been all too evident this past month in the province. As if the Ostrander Point decision by the very ministries that are charged with protecting our natural environment wasn’t bad enough, they somehow managed to top that decision by authorizing the removal of a bald eagle’s nest down in the Fisherville area where an American company is planning a wind turbine project there. The eagles made the tragic mistake of building their nest in the path of a planned access road to one of the turbines. Clearly, the nest had to go, along with the tree, under the pretext of protecting the eagles from harm. Isn’t this so-called pro-action synonymous with saying that there is, in fact, a problem with birds and turbines, by the same agency that claims through its Ostrander Point decision that there are no issues with migratory birds?

Frankly I think most of us are sick to death of hearing the pro wind people drone on monotonously about cats, cars and hydro wires killing more birds than wind turbines. This is not a contest. There will not be a stuffed toy awarded to the structure that wipes out the least birds and bats, or the most. It’s not about the criteria that made the South Shore an Important Bird Area; whether it was waterfowl that was the clincher or whether it was songbirds. Whether it was wigeons or whether it was warblers that created the IBA, doesn’t make the South Shore any less important. We have radar images, hard data, banding records and surveys that support our assertion that these nine wind turbines that proponents are jumping up and down claiming will save the earth, can, and likely will, result in high mortality in a staging area that hosts millions of migrants every year as they migrate to and from northern nesting grounds. We don’t need yet another killing field on top of those that we have already created, and we don’t need to hear more drivel about how, despite any mortality, the population is sustainable. It is not sustainable, and it hasn’t been for many decades as species numbers continue to plummet, some beyond recovery. Wood thrushes for example have declined over 80% in population. Does that sound sustainable?

And we don’t need to hear nonsense like I did a few weeks ago about how the birds in Europe are so used to wind turbines that they actually perch on the rotating blades and ride them around as though on a Ferris wheel! These are claims from the desperate – desperate to not let money slip through their fingers, claims from landowners, and even government, who had never before given one iota of concern about our environment, until the folding green was introduced. Suddenly green and clean energy, which wind power is not, has become fashionable. It’s all about money, pure and simple, and it is a very dirty game when legislation, rules and regulations can be bent, adjusted and altered without apology to accommodate those with power and money, despite overwhelming evidence that Ostrander Point, and a whole lot of other locations in eastern Ontario, are not appropriate areas to establish wind power.

However, bird and bat mortality is just scraping the surface in the fallout that this misdirected movement toward “doing the right thing” will create. The habitat in the entire project area at Ostrander Point will be unceremoniously destroyed, forever – habitat that took many decades to settle into a very delicate and specialized biodiversity. One cannot compensate as companies would have us believe, by constructing new habitat somewhere else. Wildlife is being portrayed as cartoon characters that will shed a tear, then be seen with suitcases in hand moving to their new synthetic homes. Biodiversity that takes centuries to evolve cannot be reinvented overnight, neither can the bald eagles that nested in a 100 year old cottonwood tree at Fisherville be expected to accept a Tupperware nest platform on a pole somewhere, when their instinct tells them they should be in a natural tree somewhere else. Legislation is purportedly in place to protect species at risk – that’s why it is there. Legislation that can be bought, and then twisted to serve the needs of development is not legislation. It smacks of a corrupt system of the worst possible kind perpetuated by money and greed, especially given the deliberate and offensively transparent timing of the announcement, only a few days before Christmas.

This column congratulates the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) in their efforts to appeal this decision of raping our SouthShore under the guise of clean energy. There are currently two separate appeals that have been registered: The PECFN appeal is environmentally based, while that of APPEC is based on human health effects. This column also recognizes the challenge that environmental agencies likely have in trying to balance the development of renewable energy while mitigating any adverse effects to wildlife populations. The Ostrander Point decision, however, clearly leans in the direction of development, and the hell with anything or anybody that stands in the way.

Cheques toward PECFN’s efforts should be made payable to the Ostrander Point Appeal Fund and mailed to Myrna Wood, 59 King St. unit 2, Picton K0K 2T0 or donate online at http://saveostranderpt.causevox.com/ . Cheques toward the efforts of APPEC can be sent to APPEC Legal Fund, P.O. Box 173, Milford, OntarioK0K 2P0

PECFN Launch Appeal of Wind Turbine Approval

 
Fight the Approval of Ostrander Point wind project! 

  • Ostrander Point wind project: Approved
  • Permit to kill, harm and harass endangered species: Approved
  • Permit to destroy habitat: Approved

 
2 legal challenges underway. 
 

If you can help to support this very important cause, make your cheque payable to the Ostrander Point Appeal Fund and mail to Myrna Wood, 59 King St. unit 2, Picton K0K 2T0

 

Letter to Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Letter written by County resident and business owner Carlyn Moulton, addressed to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, with copies to Dalton McGuinty, Jim Bradley (Minister of the Environment), Todd Smith and Peter Kent (federal Minister of the Environment.

December 22, 2012

Dear Commissioner,

It beggars belief that in the name of being “green”, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has approved the destruction of the southeastern portion of Prince Edward County for a wind turbine project known as Ostrander Point. Virtually every environmental group in the country has made detailed submissions pointing out that this is the worst possible location that could be imagined. It is an Important Bird Area, a critical migratory flight path and breeding habitat for millions of birds, many endangered. It would qualify as an ANSI, or area of natural and scientific interest, because of its unique features.

Then to add insult to injury, in a cynical and grinch-like act that can only be seen as calculated and manipulative,  the announcement is made on December the 20th, allowing 15 days for the public to comment or appeal. If the current government had any interest in participatory democracy, it would have picked another date. As this is not the first time  that this has been done (as you yourself have pointed out), we have to assume that this wasn’t merely inept or absent-minded ignorance of the calendar and holiday season, but a willful thumbing of the nose to those that might wish to spend the holidays with their children as opposed to with their lawyers.

 The effects on the natural environment are not restricted to the Ostrander Point wind project and its nine turbines – wind projects are planned or proposed on many sites along the north shore of Lake Ontario at the eastern end. What is the cumulative effect of these projects? They can’t just be considered one by one.  The following table of projects and turbines lists those along the shore or in the water of eastern Lake Ontario.  Most would be located within or adjacent to Important Bird Areas. (In Prince Edward County four other projects, totalling 47 turbines, are also proposed and awaiting ECTs.)

              Wind Project                    Status  No. Of Turbines
Ostrander Point OPA Contract                9
White Pines OPA Contract         29-30
Amherst Island OPA Contract         30-35
Ernestown OPA contract             4-6
Wolfe Island Operating              86
Loyalist I and II Awaiting ECT              21
White Pines II Proposed              36
Dorland Proposed on Gilead website         20-40
Wolfe Island Shoals Subject to offshore moratorium       60-150
Trillium I and II Subject to offshore moratorium            282
Total of land-based Turbines      199-227
Total of all proposed Turbines        541-659

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s impossible to conclude that such numbers would not be an obstacle to migrating birds or a transformation of the natural environment.

Prince Edward County is also well known for organic vegetable farms, wineries and other farms. Wind turbines cause a shift in air pressure that collapse bat lungs and kills them. Bats eat insects. Insects eat fruit and vegetables. Without bats, insect populations increase significantly, and therefore, so does pesticide use. This is not rocket science. So why would we, in the name of the environment, allow for an industrial development that is surely to trigger a rise in pesticide use?

One can only imagine that there must be some sort of staggering electrical power shortage, plunging us all into the dark without this sort of destructive and permanently damaging project – which must surely save us all?

Except of course, we have a surplus of power. Ontario is a net exporter of power and has been for years. http://www.sygration.com/gendata/today.html  publishes our surplus on a daily basis. Today, as I write, we have a “capacity” of almost double our current need. And it is a surplus that far exceeds our current use of coal – so that is a red herring.

And if we needed more, Quebec seems to be awash in cheap, renewable, hydro power. Maybe they might sell us some for a fraction of the price that we will end up paying to Gilead Power while they destroy Ostrander Point.

It hardly seems that we have a crisis of such a magnitude that we are compelled to give up public lands that are magnificent, unique, and critical to sustaining the natural environment to a private company who will reap a handsome profit from its destruction, and reaping artificially high rates, guaranteed by our government (but paid for by the people) for years to come.  

This project is unnecessary, irresponsible, and against the interests of the public good and the environment.

The government’s stubborn pursuit of a wrong-headed policy, despite all evidence to the contrary, is damaging the very communities it is meant to protect and represent. 

If the government was serious about reducing carbon emissions, making sure a serious public transit system was implemented around the GTA or along the 401 would seem to me to be a much better investment. Most of Ontario’s emissions aren’t from energy generation, they are from transportation – as anyone who took a day to inform themselves would know.

Sincerely,

Carlyn Moulton

Open Letter to Jim Bradley, Minister of the Environment

The Ministry of Environment’s decision not to conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment of access roads at Ostrander Point, announced in your December 19, 2012 letter, is based on numerous errors in fact and judgment.   

Your letter states that between March and April 2011 you received 21 requests from members of the public.  In point of fact, the Honourable John Wilkinson, then Minister of Environment (MOE), received the requests.  In the last election Mr. Wilkinson was held accountable for his mishandling of the MOE portfolio.  

Only 17 of the 21 requests came from members of the public.  The other four requests were from organizations which collectively represent thousands of citizens.  Why does your letter diminish the significance of comments by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County; the South Shore Conservancy; Friends of Arron Lake, Wind Concerns Ontario Grey Bruce; and the Prince Edward Field Naturalists, Ontario Nature and Nature Canada? 

All the requests point out the extensive impact of the access roads: 

  •  fragmentation of wildlife habitat by the loop design
  • destruction/loss of alvar and woodland habitat
  • disturbance of avian and terrestrial wildlife during wind turbine construction and during the next 25 years of operation due to increased on-site human activities
  • harm, harassment and killing of two threatened species, Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle, albeit authorized by a Ministry of Natural Resources permit
  • disturbance to raptors, especially protected Bald and Golden Eagles.

Since access roads are integral to the wind energy project, they cannot be separated in terms of effects.  Both roads and wind turbines are located on a major migration corridor used by millions of birds, bats and butterflies.  Both roads and wind turbines will destroy rare habitat that sustains migrating and resident wildlife, particularly 20 species of conservation concern, including Rusty Blackbird, Short-Eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Red-headed Woodpecker, and the Monarch Butterfly. 

Thousands of eagles, owls and other raptors have already perished in North America as a result of colliding with massive turbine towers and blades at poorly-sited wind projects.  The raptors and migratory birds that avoid wind turbines are also at risk as they disperse to inhospitable outlying areas without adequate food, water and shelter.  

Bats in the thousands are also dying, either from direct collision with turbine blades or as their lungs explode from rapid changes in air pressure when they get close to turbines.

In approving the Ostrander Point project the government of Ontario is contravening international treaties such as the Migratory Birds Act and the treaty to protect Monarch Butterflies.  National and international environmental societies, too numerous to mention, have all told the Ontario government that industrial wind turbines should not go into this Important Bird Area (IBA).  Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner has called for a halt to wind projects in all Ontario IBAs.  The Canadian Senate has called for a moratorium on industrial wind projects along the migratory route.

Mr. Bradley, anyone who had actually read the 21 requests for an Individual Environmental Assessment would be too embarrassed to say, as you did in your letter, that you are “satisfied” the Ostrander Point project has met “the purpose of the Environmental Assessment Act, the betterment of the people of the whole or part of Ontario, by providing for the protection, conservation and wise management of the environment.”  

Perhaps you are satisfied, Mr. Bradley, but the people of Ontario are not.   

Garth Manning,
Chair, County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy