A meeting with Board Members of TRCA (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority) yesterday, September 17th, included several deputations regarding possible industrial turbine developments and the converging authority of the TRCA. Toronto Wind Action Founding Director Sherri Lange and Shiv Lombardi, an engineer well versed in the effects of turbine sound and human health, made a compelling case for a moratorium. A third deputation was provided by Roy Wright of Save the Toronto Bluffs. The commentary from Lange focussed on the complexities of migration, measuring bird and bat fatalities, the fallacies of “green” washing, and the myths of carbon reduction and coal plant closings. Lange outlined that many of the most important studies related to possible problems with turbine construction in the province have not been done, and that some of these would take possibly up to and more than ten years. Lange pointed out that Dr Scott Petrie, Executive Director of Longpoint Waterfowl, is currently undertaking a Lake Erie migration study, but long term widespread studies are essential before dotting the Lakes with turbines.
“We’ve recently seen hundreds of industrial wind farm proposals ‘rubber stamped’ throughout Ontario without effective environmental, wildlife or human health studies,” said Lange. “If the industry standards on land are insufficient, and understudied, why would we accept water based turbines? No environmental studies have been conducted, no studies have been done on sound and vibration across water, no erosion and vibration effects studied, no migration studies at all. Bats are among the most vulnerable species, as they are fatally attracted to turbines, and as vast consumers of insects, perform miracles of pest control universally.”
Lange pointed to the recent “six-month” wildlife study that reported nearly 2,000 birds and bats had been killed by the industrial wind turbines operating on Wolfe Island, near Kingston, Ontario. The wildlife mortality results, which the environmental group, Nature Canada, described as “shockingly high” came from field studies done over just 77 days between July 1 and Dec. 1 last year. She also added that the “bird mortality” study conducted at the fated CNE turbine, which has not worked properly from day one, was aborted before migration began, so the reported result of only two dead birds was totally inaccurate.
Lange added that underreporting is rampant. In conversation after the meeting, Lange added that even Mass Audubon had been infiltrated as they had accepted a payout of 8 million dollars to count dead birds, or as the industry says, “mitigate.”
According to Lange, TRCA Board members, led expertly by Chair Gerri Lynn Connor, Uxbridge Mayoral candidate, had a competent grasp of the issues, and showed tremendous leadership. Councillors Mike Del Grande and Paul Ainslie took a strong initiative to communicate to the Board that their responsibility to protect as the Conservation Authority must be clearly stated and communicated to the Ministry of the Environment. Councillor Del Grande’s motion asked that the staff report which had been submitted to the MOE re offshore setbacks of 5 km be amended. He asked for more and detailed studies, commissioned independently by the TRCA before any statement could be supported. Councillor Ainslie requested a total moratorium, citing international concerns and widespread municipal moratorium motions (50 in Ontario alone). Both motions passed handily.
According to Lange, TRCA conducted business yesterday “with elegance of purpose and will,” and she says the example of this group’s decision restores public trust. TRCA will obviously continue its mandate to protect the wildlife, fragile shorelines and local residents, human, and natural occupants, along Lake Ontario, along with the conservation of fresh water that is most vulnerable with intrusive, massive industrial turbines. Lange further pointed out that each mammoth turbine requires between 800-1000 gallons of lubricating oil, which eventually leaks, or needs replacing.
Lange added, “The Ministries have embarked on a process that will alter landscapes, continue to create ill-health, create habitat fragmentation of the highest order. With the vastness of emerging data and documented experiences, why the rush to industrialize 20% of the world’s remaining fresh water reserves? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Concern is being raised south of the border as well. A map that displays potential offshore turbine proposals for both the US and Canadian Great Lakes is “precipitous and very frightening,” said Lange. The moratorium motion passed by the TRCA yesterday, she said, is a “welcome home sign to wildlife, birds and bats in Ontario.” Lange said that she applauds the TRCA for leadership and incisiveness. She hopes that the bravery shown by Councillors Ainslie and Del Grande on this important issue will provide inspiration to Board Members of other Conservation Authorities in Ontario. On September 17th, 2010 at Black Creek Pioneer Village, common sense won the day.
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