RSS Feed

Category Archives: Wind turbines & the environment

Ontario Environmental Watchdog Boosts Conservancy Campaign

 

This week a major boost was given to the South Shore Conservancy campaign to protect the south shore IBA in Prince Edward County.

Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, hit the headlines when he unequivocally stated that wind turbines do not belong in Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Mr. Miller went on to suggest that wind turbines do not belong in any ecologically sensitive locations. 

According to Mr. Miller “…the current guidelines do not go far enough to ensure that wind power development is compatible with Ontarians’ objective of protecting wildlife.  Given the importance of selecting sites that minimize the harm to birds and bats, it just makes sense to avoid building wind energy projects in these species’ most ecologically sensitive locations.”

Ontario Nature has added to these comments by saying that on Wolfe Island (also an IBA) with an 86 turbine project, a 2010 study found that on average 16 birds and 43 bats were killed per turbine, one of the highest recorded rates in North America.  The kill on that site is one of the worst in North America.   The Ontario governments’ reaction to the high bird and bat kill was to increase the number of acceptable kills per turbine and decrease the area around each turbine that must be searched for bird and bat kills.  Furthermore they have made no response to the mandatory reports required of raptor kills. 

In addition to eradicating the possibility of wind turbines in IBAs, Mr. Miller considers that the Ontario government needs to take into account the cumulative effect that wind turbines have on both birds and bats.  Ontario Nature agrees stating that “we. . .need to be aware of the cumulative impacts of all wind turbines on bird life, bats, other rare plants and animals, as well as sensitive ecosystems.”   With the millions of migrating birds and bats as well as other winged species like the Monarch Butterflies that pass through the south shore, the cumulative impact here will be many times worse than at Wolfe Island. 

The Canadian Senate, Nature Canada, the Audubon Society as well as the Royal Society for Birds and many other environmental groups both here and abroad have alerted the MOE to the fact that wind energy projects do not belong in our IBA. Now the provincial governments’ own Environmental Commissioner, is reinforcing this. 

As we have seen with Gilead Power and with wpd Canada, the Ontario government has given no consideration to the issue of the IBA factor. There is no better time for everyone to tell our Liberal government that they must protect major migratory pathways, sensitive ecosystems and all threatened species and habitats.  This is the only acceptable solution for the residents of this province.

We encourage you to protest the construction of wind turbine projects in Prince Edward County’s globally-significant South Shore IBA by responding yourselves and encouraging as many others, particularly other residents of Ontario, to respond as well.  Whether they focus on our IBA or on the one closest to them does not matter.  The important thing is that they inform their MPP and others on the list below that they agree with Gord Miller and expect them to do the same.   

Please tell the following politicians that you agree with Gord Miller and expect them to do the same:    

Premier Dalton McGuinty
dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Dwight Duncan, MPP
Deputy Premier
dduncan.mpp@liberal.ola.org

David Orazietti, MPP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier
dorazietti.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Michael Gravelle, MPP
Minister of Natural Resources
mgravelle.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Mike Colle, MPP
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources
mcolle.mpp@liberal.ola.org

 Jim Bradley, MPP

Minister of the Environment
jbradley.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Helena Jaczek, MPP
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment
hjaczek.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Chris Bentley, MPP
Minister of Energy
cbentley.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Reza Moridi, MPP
Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministry of Energy
rmoridi.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Tim Hudak
Leader, PC Party
tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org

Laurie Scott, MPP
PC Critic Natural Resources
laurie.scott@pc.ola.org

Victor Fedeli, MPP
PC Energy Critic
vic.fedeli.pc.ola.org

Michael Harris, MPP
PC Critic, Environment
michael.harris.ola.org

Lisa Thompson, MPP
PC Deputy Critic, Energy (Green Energy Act)
lisa.thompson@pc.ola.org

Todd Smith, MPP
Prince Edward-Hastings
todd.smith@pc.ola.org

Andrea Horwath
Leader, NDP
ahorwath-co@ndp.on.ca

Peter Tabuns, MPP
NDP Energy and Environment Critic
tabunsp-qp@ndp.on.ca

Jonah Schein, MPP
NDP Environment Critic
jschein-qp@ndp.on.ca

Sarah Campbell, MPP

NDP Critic, Natural Resources

scampbell-qp@ndp.on.ca

 

Advertisements

Birds and Bats Need More Protection from Wind Power

Toronto, October 2, 2012 – The Ontario government should put additional areas of the province off-limits to wind power projects to safeguard birds, bats and their habitats, says Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller, who released Part 2 of his 2011/2012 Annual Report, Losing Our Touch, today.

“I fully support wind power. Together with energy conservation, renewable sources of energy such as wind are necessary to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and protect the environment,” says Miller.  “However, the use of wind power must be balanced by the equally important goal of protecting birds and bats. To accomplish that goal, we need to be smarter about where we place wind power facilities.”

The government has released guidelines for evaluating and reducing harmful effects on birds, bats and their habitats during the planning, construction and operation of wind power projects. The Environmental Commissioner praises the government for giving special attention to birds and bats as wind power development increases in the province, but notes “there are some significant shortcomings in the guidelines that continue to put birds and bats at risk.”

  • Lack of protection for migratory bat species: Approximately 75 per cent of documented bat fatalities at wind turbines in North America are migratory bats, yet the provincial guidelines lack any criteria for identifying and avoiding bat migratory stopover areas during the selection of wind power sites.  Three out of the eight species of Ontario’s bats are migratory.
  • Development in Important Bird Areas not prohibited: Important Bird Areas are designated, using internationally accepted standards, as key areas supporting specific groups of birds. There are no special rules to prevent wind power development in Ontario’s 70 Important Bird Areas.
  • No consideration of cumulative effects: Wind power project sites are evaluated and approved on an individual basis, with no regard for the potential cumulative effects on birds or bats from other nearby wind power facilities or other potential sources of bird and bat mortality.

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner says “I am concerned that the current guidelines do not go far enough to ensure that wind power development is compatible with Ontarians’ objective of protecting wildlife. Given the importance of selecting sites that minimize the harm to birds and bats, it just makes sense to avoid building wind energy projects in these species’ most ecologically sensitive locations.”

“The Ministry of Natural Resources should rectify these shortcomings,” says Miller “and prohibit new wind power development within Ontario’s Important Bird Areas.”  Important Bird Areas, such as Point Pelee and the Leslie St. Spit, cover only about two per cent of Ontario in total.

12 Million Migratory Birds at Risk from Lake Ontario Wind Turbines

According to an article by journalist Paul Schliesmann, in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Friday, August 24, 2012,  a recent report by the Kingston Field Naturalists states that an estimated 12 million migratory birds will be put at risk if two large offshore wind turbine projects are built in Lake Ontario.

Three members of the volunteer organization who conducted a year-long, unpaid study are particularly concerned about two offshore projects that would see the a total of 268 turbines planted to the north and south of Main Duck Island, a natural stopping off point for hundreds of species.

“We think 12 million is low because it’s based on birds being studied at Prince Edward Point. The ones which don’t stop at Prince Edward Point aren’t being included yet,” said Chris Hargreaves, who worked on the report with Erwin Batalla and Barrie Gilbert.

Read the rest of this informative article in thewhig.com

Migrating Songbird Might Impede U.S. Wind Power Plans

A bird that ornithologists, birders and wind-power opponents say is at risk from developments ranging from mountaintop wind turbines to ski resorts could get federal protection.

The Bicknell’s thrush – a medium-sized migrating songbird – has cleared the first stage of a long route that could lead to it being declared a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.

At issue is the bird’s habitat as much as its numbers, because the terrain that the Bicknell’s thrush favors is almost exactly the same as that sought by wind-energy companies, foresters and tourism developers.

 

According to the International Bicknell’s Thrush Conservation Group, the bird’s numbers have declined to about 125,000 globally. Over the past 10 years, U.S. populations have been more stable than those in Canada, which have shown “steep declines … due to habitat loss,” the Fish and Wildlife Service reported.

Read more from the Portland Press Herald by staff writer North Cairn.

Vote in July 2012 latest CBC poll on Wind Turbine Moratorium

Posted on

From CBC.ca News July 19, 2012

Opponents of wind turbines cheered last week when Health Canada announced it would study the effects turbine noise may have on human health.

Turbines in Essex and Chatham-Kent counties in southwestern Ontario have become a fact of life. In Chatham-Kent alone, for example, there could be more than 500 turbines turning by 2014.

But not if Chatham-Kent Progressive Conservative MPP Rick Nicholls has anything to say about it. He and his party want a moratorium on the development of wind farms while Ottawa completes its study.

Vote now! http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2012/07/19/wdr-wind-turbine-moratorium-health-canada.html

200,000 Bats Killed Annually by German Wind Turbines

Posted on
July  3, 2012 in Science Daily
 

Research suggests German Wind Turbines Kill Bats Near and Far

Previous studies have already highlighted that more than 200,000 bats are killed each year by German wind turbines. Researchers are convinced that such high mortality rates may not be sustainable. The large-scale development of wind farms throughout Germany may have negative consequences for even remote ecosystems in northeastern Europe.
 
Industrial Wind Turbines Affect Distant Ecosystems

Wind turbines may have large-scale negative effects on distant ecosystems. Results of research by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) demonstrate that bats killed at German wind turbines originate mostly from northeastern Europe.

The study investigated the provenance of those four bat species which are most frequently killed by German wind turbines. Bats are of particular interest because they have a vital and important service function for ecosystems in regulating population densities of pest insects, and because many species migrate during spring and autumn across Europe between their breeding and wintering ranges.

Read more:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702133529.htm

Additional Protection for Ontario Wildlife Habitat & Threatened Species

Posted on

Strict new definitions for “significant wildlife habitat” will offer more protection for Ontario wildlife.

According to journalist Tom Spears in the Ottawa Citizen, “protected sites could demand special treatment (such as not cutting trees or building roads) for hundreds of metres in all directions, up to a kilometre all around in the case of bat caves. They apply in urban and rural development alike.

Spears goes on to state: The Ministry of Natural Resources says it will not be applying the new definitions to existing properties or small residential projects. They will be “only considered as a result of a development application” and applied during an environmental impact study.

“Therefore Significant Wildlife Habitat is typically only determined when a subdivision, commercial development, golf course, aggregate operation, wind farm, and large solar project is proposed in an area that may be changing the existing land use,” the ministry wrote in a reply to questions.

 They are in addition to existing protection for significant wetlands, or areas with rare or threatened species such as butternut trees or bobolinks.
 
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says the changes would apply to new developments such as subdivisions, commercial construction or wind turbines, not to smaller projects such as renovating a house.

Follow the link above to the Ottawa Citizen to read the entire article by Spears.