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Senate backs Runciman’s call for wind farm moratorium

The Senate of Canada unanimously backed a motion Wednesday, Nov. 30 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.

Runciman (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 noted concern 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,” he said. “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.

By the Honourable Senator Runciman:
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the province of Ontario should institute a moratorium on the approval of wind energy projects on islands and onshore areas within three kilometres of the shoreline in the Upper St. Lawrence-Eastern Lake Ontario region, from the western tip of Prince Edward County to the eastern edge of Wolfe Island, until the significant threat to congregating, migrating or breeding birds and migrating bats is investigated thoroughly and restrictions imposed to protect internationally recognized important bird areas from such developments.

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  1. David Norman says:

    Lori, “How does one enlighten that kind of mindset?” Perhaps with a quote from the CSG website: “As Albert Einstein said, ‘A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. Information is not knowledge’.”

  2. Lori Cairns says:

    Mr. Norman, I couldn’t agree with you more. You have brought up all that I have pointed out in my previous posts, but have said it much more eloquently.

    IMO, wind turbine supporters are all about keeping business as usual. They want “green” as long as that “green” doesn’t impact their lifestyles. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they fight for subsidies for solar power on each dwelling and office building in this province? There is no need for industrial wind turbines when each building is producing its own energy. That is the only way to get people to change their lifestyles.

    I will never forget sitting in on a CSG meeting in which the invited male guest from Harvard university suggested that all females (particularly in the third world) should be sterilized after having one child (if any at all) to combat the population issue. A few older males in the audience agreed. At that point, two women in the audience walked out. I asked him if he thought that women should be sterilized against their will. His opinion was that sterilization was needed for the greater good. He never once mentioned male sterilization.

    That kind of thinking I can do without.

    How does one enlighten that kind of mindset?

    Lori Cairns

  3. David Norman says:

    @John Thompson re: County Sustainability Group “think tank”

    I have grown annoyed at the Industrial Wind Turbine (IWT) rhetoric of Don Chisholm,a spokesperson for the County Sustainability Group (CSG) “think tank” that you referred to, so much so that it is, to paraphrase Chisholm’s remarks in a recent article in the Picton Gazette, “making me sick”. Chisholm cloaks himself in the guise of the CSG with the insidious notion that this will give him credibility, as indicated by your comment, “our County Sustainability Group (is)an independent volunteer think tank which studies the environmental risks and benefits of wind farm development”. If Chisholm, the CSG “think tank” and yourself, had actually researched the nature of IWTs you would realize that these political fetishes do not represent the sustainability of life, but the sustainability of a lifestyle, premised on our demonstratively flawed economic model. The idea that a global warming precursor like carbon in our atmosphere is now considered an economic commodity, inextricably tied into IWT development, is a patently vulgar representation of this. Possible health effects of proximity to IWTs aside, I have not once seen an article of Chisholm’s that mentions the environmentally destructive radioactive, sulfides and heavy metal pollution that has been created by the mining and processing of rare earths, the major elements of the IWT generators (1 ton rare earths per MGW). Of course up until recently this has taken place in China. Is this is OK as long as it’s not in our backyard? This too has changed since recently China has reduced export quotas of rare earths and subsequently many countries, Canada included, have started the process of mining these elements on their own soil. In the last year alone, many thousands of hectors of potentially rare earth bearing property in Canada, much of it in pristine wilderness, boreal forest and tundra, is being staked out for open pit mines. The processing of the ore bearing minerals will require huge tailing ponds for the radioactive thorium residue, mercury and sulphides. IWTs also require major quantities of concrete and steel, two of the most polluting industries worldwide. In fact, it is estimated the carbon released into our atmosphere for the production and installation of an IWT exceeds its carbon recapture potential for the period of its use.
    Why not concentrate on the obvious, yet not as economically and politically attractive but more environmentally sound, alternatives. For example, I have not seen Chisholm mention farming practices here in the county, yet I have seen him quote the `2005 United Nations Report` which identifies meat and dairy farming as the greatest single contributor to greehouse gases/pollution and subsequently, climate change. Most of the farm land in the County is devoted to the production of grain and fodder for meat and dairy animals. Add to this the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides required for this, many of them of the nano application variety which are now recognized for the havoc they are reaping on wildlife, most notably bees and birds, and you have something that if changed will do more to ameliorate climate change than the County packed full of IWTs. As well, I have to wonder if Chisholm or other members of the CSG think tank are vegan, since this, as recognized by the `spirit` of this UN report is the single greatest contribution an individual can make to preventing climate change. If not, Chisholm and the “think tank” of the County Sustainability Group” are simply not sustainable.
    David Norman

  4. John Thompson says:

    Perhaps Senator Runciman would like to have a conversaton with members of our County Sustainability Group, an independent volunteer think tank which studies the environmental risks and benefits of wind farm devlopment as well as other issues of long term importance.

    As for the vote, his fellow senators would not have needed to study ths issue as they would have been fully aware of it’s insignificance in an area which they have no jusisdiction. The easiest option would have been to just yawn and vote in favour.

  5. Chris Keen says:


    You didn’t read the posting correctly and obviously didn’t read the article. This kill rate is per turbine and in “(o)ver a year, this would amount to approximately 1,500 birds and about 3,800 bats.”

    Nature Canada suggests that on Wolfe Island, for example:

    “It is also becoming clear that the July to September period (when the Swallows congregate and the bats migrate) is the most devastating for birds and bats. In my view, it is time that TransAlta implement serious mitigation, and turn off the turbines during this high risk period. This would save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of birds and bats.”

    Yes, everything we do affects the environment, but when you have clear evidence of potential significant environmental damage and it can be mitigated, it seems to me it should be.

  6. Tom says:

    So we are worrying about 16.5 birds and 43.7 bats? Is this what it all about? If that is the enviromental impact that is being spoken of perhaps we should ban cars as well considering all the road kill we see. Isn’t that the same thing? Everything we do directly affects the enviroment. Why pick on clean energy?

  7. Chris Keen says:

    Here’s the Nature Canada report to which Runciman likely refers:

    Despite the shocking kill rates of 16.5 birds per turbine and 43.7 bats per turbine during a six month period, TransAlta has not been required by the McGuinty government to mitigate the damages to bird and bat populations.

    As Ted Chesney of Nature Canada says:

    “Excluding wind energy plants from IBAs (Important Bird Areas) will not make any measurable difference in fighting climate change, but it will make a difference in protecting populations of sensitive wildlife, and removing a totally unnecesary threat. This means an emphatic “No” to Gilead’s proposed Ostrander Point plant, No to proposed wind turbines on Amherst Island, No to wind trubines in Bicknell’s Thursh habitat in the Massif du Sud in Quebec, or in the Hekate Straits for British Columbia, or in Prairie Grouse habitat in Alberta and Saskatchewan. IBAs are known, are mapped, and are easy to avoid if there is the will.”

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