Wind turbines shouldn’t be allowed near Point Pelee National Park, Holiday Beach or the south shore of Essex County, Ron Elliott, co-ordinator of the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee, said this week.
“They do have the potential if they’re in the wrong places to be an environmental disaster for birds. There’s no denying that. And they’re going to be around for 20 years, so they have to be located right,” Elliott said.
He said the “whole south shore is essentially one big migration route.”
Phil Roberts, president of the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club and committee member, said two of four major migration flyways, the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, converge over Essex County. And the southern half of the county has most of the significant woodlots and wetlands. Even one turbine, placed in a poor spot, could disrupt breeding.
“We should be cautious in putting enormous wind developments in these areas because we really don’t know what the impact is.”
The committee said it supports wind energy as a way to reduce air pollution. It is mapping migration patterns and plans to create a map that will show where wind turbines could be placed. There may be areas near Highway 401 that could have turbines, Elliot said.
“We are supporting the installation of wind turbines in environmentally appropriate areas,” Elliott said, adding that thorough environmental assessments should be done. “Areas where they will not negatively impact the migration patterns of birds, bats and butterflies or disrupt habitat.”
The committee, a former air quality committee that was pushing for lawn pesticide bylaws in the county last year, has also recommended municipalities impose a year-long ban on wind turbines to allow time for more research.
Leamington Mayor John Adams, who serves on the committee, said he’d like to see one standard policy on wind turbines for the county.
Adams said he’s against any wind turbines south of County Road 18, which runs north of Leamington and Kingsville.
The local debate over wind power began when turbines were proposed on Lake Erie south of Leamington and Kingsville but that proposal was stopped by the province. A proposal to put wind turbines near Point Pelee National Park was moved to the northern limit of Leamington after migration concerns were raised.
Gengrowth, Toronto wind energy development company, is proposing five small-scale wind farms in Essex County, including one north of Malden Centre in Amherstburg. That’s north of Holiday Beach Conservation Area which is known for its hawk migration.
David Singer, vice-president of Gengrowth’s business development, said the company is doing an environmental assessment that includes bird studies. He said the company acknowledges it’s a sensitive area but it is a small-scale project with five turbines.
“We’re confident that this project can be successful in the community with minimal, minimal impacts to the bird population,” he said Wednesday.
By Sharon Hill, Windsor Star
21 March 2007
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