Four area naturalists groups are opposing Ontario’s approval of the Amherst Island Wind Energy Project.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change announced Aug. 24 that the project received renewable energy approval, pending more than two dozen conditions. The project, to be build by Windlectric Inc., is to include up to 26 wind turbine generators and one substation transformer.
Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, the Kingston Field Naturalists and the American Bird Conservancy have come forward to ask the project’s approval be overturned. The Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) and Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington, already publicly opposed the project.
Stephen Hazell, director of conservation for Nature Canada, called the approve another ‘tough on nature’ move by the ministry and asks the Environmental Review Tribunal to overturn the approval.
“Given the clear breaches of the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, the federal government should in future apply its environmental assessment process to wind energy projects,” Hazell said in a release.
Joshua Wise, greenway program manager for Ontario Nature, said the 35 kilometres of new roads will destroy habitat for species at risk.
“Amherst has the largest breeding population of the at-risk short-eared owl in southern Ontario,” Wise said. “During the winter, Amherst supports the largest concentration of owl species of anywhere in eastern North America as far as we know. “We are all for green energy, but not at the expense of nature.”
Kurt Hennige, president of the Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN), said his group opposes the Amherst Island Wind Energy Project because they know the turbines on Wolfe Island are killing area birds such as ospreys, red-tailed hawks, purple martins and the wilson snipe.
Admission by an MNR senior manager that his initial advice was not to allow a permit to “kill, harm and harass” the Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s turtle at Ostrander Point halted the third day of Environmental Review Tribunal proceedings Friday in Demorestville.
Witness Joe Crowley, a species at risk expert herpetologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, was on the stand Friday to provide a statement and answer questions about the effectiveness of various mitigation measures proposed by industrial wind turbine developer Gilead Power to protect the endangered species Blanding’s turtle.
Cheryl Anderson, of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, said this unexpected turn came at the end of the day when Crowley was asked about his role in the granting of the Endangered Species Act permit for the project on the south shore of Prince Edward County.
“Mr. Crowley stated his advice at the time was not to allow the permit because the project roads would prove a risk to the site’s indigenous Blanding’s Turtles,” said Anderson.
read more: http://countylive.ca/blog/?p=55256
Myrna Wood at 4 pm today: “From the beginning several years ago, we were astounded that the Ministry of Natural Resources would issue a permit that allowed development of a site as important to species at risk as Ostrander Point. Over the years we continually have reminded the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources that their responsibility to protect species at risk was being ignored by allowing development at Ostrander Point.”
What began as a usual day in the extended Environmental Review Tribunal appeal of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change plan to allow development at Ostrander Point in the PEC South Shore Important Bird Area finished with an unexpected ruling.
The witness was Joe Crowley from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, who was qualified as a species at risk herpetologist with expertise in Blanding’s Turtles. Mr. Crowley has a long history of interest in and working in the field of herpetology in Ontario and helped to develop the Ontario Herpetology Atlas, a citizen science project, while working with Ontario Nature before he started his tenure with MNRF. At MNRF his responsibilities included being the species at risk expert on herpetology, giving advice to staff and partners and conservation groups on the development of species at risk protection plans. He was instrumental in developing the provincial task team forestry policy regarding amphibians and reptiles. He is a member of the reptile and amphibian sub- committee of COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), reviewing reports for that committee of technical and scientific information which informs decisions regarding listing species at risk. He is the Vice President of the Canadian Herpetology Society responsible for web site development and communication.
Mr. Crowley’s witness statement was concerned with the attempts to mitigate harm to the indigenous turtle population at Ostrander Point through the installation of gates on the turbine access roads and a program of monitoring, signage and staff training. Mr. Crowley answered many questions about the effectiveness of the various mitigation measures proposed to protect the turtles. Gates are proposed on about 6 road intersections on the site including the intersection of Helmer Rd and Petticoat Point Lane. Mr. Crowley indicated that he felt that those gates would reduce the risk of turtle mortality to public vehicular traffic; however the presence of roads would increase the probability of turtles nesting in a place that would make them more vulnerable to predation and the roads were unlikely to deter poachers.
The unexpected part of the day came when Mr. Crowley was asked about his role in the granting of the Endangered Species Act permit granted allowing the proponent to “kill harm and harass” the Whip—poor-will and the Blanding’s Turtle at Ostrander point. Mr. Crowley stated that his advice at the time was not to allow the permit because the project roads would prove a risk to the site’s indigenous Blanding’s Turtles.
This new information caused an abrupt halt in the proceedings. The legal argument was made by PECFN counsel, Eric Gillespie that it appeared that a senior manager at MNRF had advised against approval of the Ostrander project at the very onset. Mr. Gillespie requested documentation of that advice. Mr. Crowley was unable to produce any documentation and asserted that the final decision on the project was not his. Ultimately after much legal discussion the Tribunal issued a ruling:
That the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry witnesses produce forthwith all papers and electronic correspondence to date relating to roads and/or Blanding’s Turtle and this renewable energy approved project and site.
The Tribunal resumes on September 23, 24 and 25.
SENATOR BOB RUNICMAN WANTS TO SEE A JUDICIAL ENQUIRY INTO ONTARIO’S GREEN ENERGY ACT.
THE CONSERVATIVE SENATOR WAS ONE OF FOUR SPEAKERS AT A PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE TO DISCUSS THE IMPACT OF CONTROVERSIAL WIND TURBINE PROJECTS IN PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY. AS NEWSWATCH’S MORGANNE CAMPBELL REPORTS, THE SENATOR SAYS IT’S TIME PEOPLE STOP THE GREEN ENERGY MADNESS.
Whether you like them or not, wind and solar panel farms are going up in an area near you. The Liberal government is approving wind and solar farms across the province, most recently here on Amherst Island.
“They continue to approve these wind turbines, they’re doing it in Prince Edward County, they’re doing it on Amherst Island, they’re doing it in Addington Highlands, they’re doing it all across South Western Ontario, it’s not providing a reliable source of electricity and an affordable source.”
The Green Energy Act and the province’s Hydro policy were slammed during a public meeting hosted by MPP Todd Smith in Prince Edward County. About fifty concerned residents from across the region attended the roundtable discussion where Senator Bob Runicman talked about the steps anti-wind turbine groups could take to quash the act …like challenging it in a court of law and calling for a judicial inquiry.
“I think we’ve got to find ways to raise funds to be able to do this and at the very least try and delay it until the next provincial election and hopefully we’ll have a change in government with a different approach.”
September 3, 2015
ERT second day
With great relief all around, we saw Dr. Beaudry off on his way home about 10 am today. Ms. Davis finished off her cross examination and after brief counter by Mr. Gillespie, he was released.
For most of the day it was Kari Gunson’s turn to be grilled and barbequed. From the beginning it was evident that the Gilead and MOECC lawyers were intent on discrediting Ms Gunson’s qualifications and her credibility. It started off with an attempt to have her accreditation as an expert witness de-valued. When that was unsuccessful both Ms. Davis and Mr. Rogers, acting for Gilead, objected to several of her statements in her Power point presentation. There was a lot of argument about whether or not Ms Gunson was qualified to speak about hydrology. She had to explain again and again that ecology includes effect on land, air, water, vegetation and animals. A crucial moment arrived when one of Ms. Gunson’s slides showed a map of the compensation property. Apparently, the ERT had agreed that this information was confidential to keep potential poachers away from the area. Eventually it was agreed that only the Tribunal would be able to view the slides with the offending map and they would be marked “confidential” (everybody had already seen them!). This was all before the cross examination of Ms. Gunson by Ms. Davis and Sam Rogers started.
Cross examination by Ms. Davis proceeded in the same way as for Dr. Beaudry. She went through all the reports that Kari had cited in her testimony and asked questions about how they fit into Kari’s opinion of the mitigation plan for Ostrander Point. Mr Roger’s questions were even more esoteric. What do you think would be the effect of a particular mitigation after 5 years or after 10 years? He asked time and again – parsing through Ms Gunson’s witness statement.
Throughout Kari maintained her composure – and answered the questions directly. It was an amazing exhibit of professionalism. Ms. Gunson’s cross examination, and the day finished at 5:30 pm. The ERT will resume tomorrow at9:45 am. It is expected that a fourth day will be required to hear all the witnesses. The date for the extra day will be decided shortly.
At 6:30 pm Dr Fred Beaudry stepped away from the microphone for the first time since about 10:30 am. The Demorestville Town Hall was steamy and wasps and deer flies floated through the room – as lawyers and tribunal members removed their jackets to try to stay comfortable in the late summer heat. The day began with a standing room only crowd filling the hall – all supporters of PECFN many with their turtle shirts proudly displayed.
After some initial housekeeping issues, Dr Beaudry took the stand and made his presentation dealing with the new evidence presented by Gilead under the headings Fragmentation (of habitat), Risk of Poaching, Nest Predation and Protection Buffers. He then continued to assess the cumulative risk and finally his conclusions about the serious and irreversible harm posed to the indigenous Blanding’s Turtles at Ostrander Point by the Gilead Power proposal.
At about 11:30 Doug Hamilton, representing Gilead, began his cross examination of Dr. Beaudry. Mr. Hamilton parsed every section of Dr. Beaudry’s presentation – asking again and again how he assessed the risks associated with each aspect of predation, poaching and habitat fragmentation related to the mitigation measures proposed by Gilead. Dr Beaudry emphasized that adult mortality is an extremely worrisome problem and of particular concern was the issue of over-wintering ponds and whether the turtles always use deep pools or sometimes may use wetland areas considered “seasonal” in which case it would be impossible to determine whether an area should be avoided by heavy equipment – and even whether an adult hibernating turtle had been killed by the equipment. In addition, Dr. Beaudry continued to insist that many issues are unable to be quantified because the research is limited or non-existent. Finally Mr. Hamilton finished his aggressive and punishing questions about 5 pm. Mr Wright of the tribunal panel insisted that all the time available at the town hall be used to press on through the questioning of Dr Beaudry. Sylvia Davis lawyer for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change then took over the attack. Her strategy was to go through all the scientific papers that Dr Beaudry had cited in his presentation to detail how he had arrived at the conclusions he reached from examining each research study.
Throughout all of this hot and steamy day, Dr. Beaudry politely and clearly answered all the lawyers’ questions. The ERT resumes tomorrow at 9 am.
Ontario Canada’s push to wind power is under fire as controversial, environment-damaging projects are approved.
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, September 2, 2015 /EINPresswire.com/ — Ontario’s stance as an environmental activist province in Canada and would-be leader in climate change action is taking a beating after the government approved two controversial wind power projects, and continues to fight environmental groups and citizens on a third.
Last week, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change approved a 75-megawatt power project on tiny Amherst Island in Lake Ontario. The island is home to several species of wildlife declared endangered or at-risk by the same government, and is also a resting place for migrating birds. The birds attract eco-tourists from all over the world.
The threat of the wind power project to the heritage environment is so great that Heritage Canada’s National Trust named the island one of Canada’s Top Ten Endangered Places.
“There are some places where wind power projects shouldn’t go,” says Michele LeLay, spokesperson for the community group the Association to Protect Amherst Island. “This is one of them.”
Also on Lake Ontario, is Prince Edward County where the province recently approved another large wind power generation project for the South Shore. The environmental danger is undeniable, says Cheryl Anderson, of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists: “Data gathered over 20 years confirms the South Shore is a major migratory pathway for an astonishing diversity and abundance of birds. This unique blend of ecosystems supports numerous varieties of rare plants, eight species of at-risk turtles, Monarch butterflies and many amphibian species. Because of its unique biodiversity, the value of Prince Edward County’s South Shore is unparalleled as an ecotourism venue.”