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Senate backs Runciman’s call for wind farm moratorium

Press release from the office of Senator Bob Runciman

OTTAWA, Nov. 30, 2011 – The Senate of Canada today unanimously backed a motion by Senator Bob Runciman calling on the province of Ontario to institute a moratorium on wind-farm development along eastern Lake Ontario until the impact on birds and bats can be studied.

Senator Runciman (Ontario– Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) noted that the region from the eastern tip of Wolfe Island to the western end of Prince Edward County is a crucial route for migratory birds and bats. He is concerned about plans for wind energy projects on Amherst Island west of Kingston and at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County – both of which would be located in internationally recognized Important Bird Areas. Both projects are in the final stages of approval by the Ontario government.

“Much of my concern flows from the bird and bat kill rates experienced with the development of the wind farm on Wolfe Island, east of the two proposed projects and also in a designated Important Bird Area,” Runciman said, noting that Nature Canada says Wolfe Island has a kill rate for birds and bats seven times the industry average in Canada primarily because it is located in the wrong spot.

Runciman lauded Nature Canada for its leadership on the issue, but noted that “they’ve been a voice in the wilderness, so to speak. Environmental groups one would expect to assist in protecting bird populations have been shockingly silent, in effect allowing green energy production to trump alarming bird and bat kill rates and even the threat to endangered species.”

Environment Canada describes Ostrander Point as one of the best areas for birds in southern Ontario, Runciman said. “It’s surprising that someone believes it is a good idea to put wind turbines on this spot. Hard as it is to believe, the landlord, the owner of the property, is the province of Ontario.”

“Clean renewable energy should help, not harm, wildlife,” Runciman told fellow senators, but the long-term cumulative effect of the current Ontario policy could pose a grave danger to several species, including species at risk.

 For more information, please contact:

Barry Raison, Office of Senator Bob Runciman

(613) 943-4020 (office) or (613) 297-2069 (cell)

raisob@sen.parl.gc.ca

Senator Runciman proposes IWT moratorium for eastern Lake Ontario

WIND PROJECTS POSE UNACCEPTABLE THREAT TO BIRDS: RUNCIMAN

Ontario Senator calls for moratorium along eastern Lake Ontario

 OTTAWA, Nov. 28, 2011 – There is an urgent need for a moratorium on wind energy projects along the shores of eastern Lake Ontario until ways can be found to better protect birds and bats, Senator Bob Runciman told a news conference on Parliament Hill this morning.

Runciman was joined at the event by Ted Cheskey, manager of bird conservation programs for Nature Canada, Rosemary Kent, president, and Cheryl Anderson, vice-president of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Runciman is introducing a motion in the federal Senate this week calling for a moratorium in the area from the east end of Wolfe Island to the western edge of Prince Edward County– a major migratory route for birds and bats.

“Under current Ontario government policy, green energy trumps everything, including threats to bird and bat populations, their habitat and their migration corridors, the Planning Act and the Environmental Protection Act,” Runciman said. “It is a reckless, damn-the-consequences approach that we don’t want to see happen at Ostrander Point and Amherst Island. It’s time for the government to step back and assess the implications of what they are doing.”

Wind energy projects are planned for both of those locations, although final approval has not yet been granted by the provincial government.

Nature Canada has long argued that industrial wind energy developments should not be located in internationally recognized Important Bird Areas such as Ostrander Point and Amherst Island. Cheskey cited the experience with the Wolfe Island project, which he said is “one of the most destructive for birds and bats in North America.”

 “We believe in good things in good places,” said Cheskey. “To achieve wind energy’s greatest promise – a clean, renewable energy source that helps, not harms wildlife – wind turbines should not be located in Important Bird Areas.”

Kent and Anderson talked about the long-term threat to vulnerable species posed by the project planned for Crown land at Ostrander Point, which has been cited by experts as one of the best places for birds in southern Ontario.

For more information, please contact:

Barry Raison, Office of Senator Bob Runciman

(613) 943-4020 (office) or (613) 297-2069 (cell)

raisob@sen.parl.gc.ca

News release courtesy of the Office of Senator Bob Runciman