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Industrial Wind – What’s at stake and what we’re going to do about it

Who we are

Prince Edward County Field Naturalists are passionate about nature.  As our name suggests, we like to get out in the field, observing and learning about nature. We don’t stop there. We feel it’s important to be ambassadors for a natural world threatened by industrial development. That’s why we’ve taken the time to develop a formal policy on wind power.

Our wind energy policy

We support renewable energy. But we also believe that wind turbines should never be built where they’re likely to cause significant harm to migrating birds and bats, and endangered species. That’s also the policy of Ontario Nature, a charitable organization which represents over 30,000 members and supporters, and 140 member groups across Ontario.

What’s at stake

When Gilead Power announced a plan to build 9 industrial wind turbines (initially 12) at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County, Prince Edward Field Naturalists couldn’t support the project. The eastern end of Lake Ontario – which includes Ostrander Point – is a major flyway for migrating birds and bats. More birds migrate through our area than anywhere else on the Great Lakes – as data from the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory confirms.  A recent scientific study shows that birds, during migration, stop, rest and fly around in natural areas, increasing their chance of being killed or harmed by wind turbines in those areas. A nearby wind project at Wolfe Island, also on the eastern Ontario flyway, has the highest bird and bat kill of any industrial wind turbines in Canada.

It is our responsibility – morally and legally – to protect migrating birds and bats, and the habitat they need to survive.

What we’re doing about it

Since Gilead Power announced plans for Ostrander Point wind turbines, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have responded at every possible opportunity.  Our member, Myrna Wood took a successful motion to the Ontario Nature annual general meeting.

It calls on the Ontario government to put a freeze industrial wind development within 5 km of areas of known significance to migrating birds, including national parks, provincial parks and internationally recognized important bird areas (like the south shore of  Prince Edward County, which includes Ostrander Point). This moratorium would remain in place during detailed, multi-year radar studies of bird migration at proposed wind development sites.

The motion also urges the government to protect these sites from industrial wind development if the studies show significant bird migration concentrations, for example, over 100,000 birds in a season or if proposed areas are in major migratory flyways.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere Else

About the Author: The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096

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  1. David Norman says:

    An interesting development: Yesterday Rick Smith, the Director of the ENGO Environmental Defence, that I mentioned in my previous comment, appeared on CBC news to promote an anti insecticide / buy organic food message. Of course I fully support this message but question the motives of the messenger. Keep in mind that Smith is a proponent of Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) even at Ostrander. He uses the notion put forward by the Audubon Society that the “renewable/green” IWT’s are worth the subsequent “inconsequential” bird and bat mortality. Smith’s message regarding insecticide use for foods is in support of a current impetus by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. This group publicly supports Environmental Defence’s position on IWTs by endorsing the notion that there are no human health implications. But the real story is much deeper and convoluted. Smith is a “darling” of CBC news as such has a relationship with CBC production staff. He also recently appeared as an “innocent” protagonist on a CBC marketplace segment regarding antibiotic use with chickens creating superbugs. What this all is really about is a “beef” between Government/Corporate/Medical Profession and Pfizer, this company of which manufactures and distributes both pesticides and antibiotic/arsenic laden feed additives. I have to wonder if the nature of this tangled web of interests is altruistic and/or righteous in the public sense given their stance on IWTs. The riddle begins to unravel.

  2. Dan Scharf says:

    As many know, the comparision to bird deaths from other causes is a marketing technique I call ‘misdirection’ or ‘inclusion’. If a particular product/service has a clear disadvantage/impact/risk in a particular local market, the “objection” to the product can be diminished by referencing a bigger sample/area/problem. Tried and true marketing technique. Its a false statement, of course. What is surprising is the extent that otherwise responsible environmentalists go to support this type of bogus argument in order to maintain the value of their brand – the shining white Industrial Wind Turbine.

    In ecology management, there is a principle called “cumulative effect”. Its straightforward. In a species population, the first invasive/introduced hazard might have a dramatic impact – say a 50% reduction as an example. The second hazard may have a smaller impact – say only 10% and so forth. The “last” hazard may have the smallest total impact of all but it might be the hazard that tips the species into “at risk” or “endangered” status. Just because it was the final straw doesn’t mean that the last hazard was any less critical to contributing to the risk to the species. It is the cumulative impact of ALL hazards that put the species at risk – not one – and therefore its responsible to address EVERY hazard in terms of cost/feasibility and contribution to the overall problem. Some of the hazards may be easy to mitigate and some may be difficult to mitigate.

    Since we’re not talking about introducing eighty 40-50 story office towers into the wildlife habitat at Ostrander Point, its not relevant to the discussion. Since many/most of the birds that travel the area are not at risk of being taken by house cats (actually a few of the avian species could take a house cat for lunch), the “house cat” hazard is not relevant. Since we’re not talking about introducing a super highway through the middle of their habitat, the automobile kill ratio is not relevant. So the only hazard that need to be addressed at Ostrander Point is the Wind Turbine hazard – maybe there are others (recreational boating?, water quality?) but certainly it would seem to be that in the case of this particular wildlife habitat, the greatest impact, by far, is from the introduction of potentially 100s of 600 ft mechanical machines with moving parts that travel at speeds in excess of 120mph.

    My thoughts on the bird discussion.

  3. David Norman says:

    An aspect of this issue that I have never understood as a Public Relations strategy by which to justify the bird casualties from Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs), is the comparison to those resulting from collisions with tall buildings and vehicles. It is presented in a manner to warrant the additional casualties created by IWTs. I have noticed that this is an emphasized strategy by some ENGO’s and in particular Environmental Defence, the Director and some staff members of which are graduates of the Sierra Club school of environmental policy. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that this ENGO receives a major portion of their funding from The Steelworkers of America who benefit handsomely from this clean green technology. Oh well, another riddle wrapped up in an enigma.

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