Upward of 60 County residents concerned with Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point Wind Project assembled outside the company’s public meeting Tuesday night at South Marysburgh Public School in Milford.
They carried signs that said: Stop The Wind Turbines; Protect the Eagles; Protect Ontario’s Countryside; Save Our IBA (Important Bird Area) and Turbines Create Dead Zones.
They were members of the South Shore Conservancy (SSC); the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) and the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE).
The assembly was planned to show dissatisfaction with Gilead’s refusal to hold a public meeting where all in attendance could hear questions and answers. Gilead’s open house featured an auditorium full of story boards and Gilead staff on site to tour the boards and answer questions one-on-one.
Prior to the gathering, the SSC members held a first information meeting – Ostrander Point: The Worst Possible Place to Put Wind Turbines – at the Milford Town Hall.
They discussed the unique biodiversity of Prince Edward County’s south shore and why it is worth protecting; specific threats to the south shore; effects of wind turbines on the natural environment of Wolfe Island and other areas and discussed questions to ask Gilead Power on its proposal to construct roads and wind turbines at Ostrander Point.
“The whole South Shore, with Ostrander Point in the middle, is one of the County’s unrecognized treasures,” said Henri Garand, APPEC president. “But its value lies precisely in its neglected state. Development would make it less attractive to migratory birds and resident wildlife—and to those who want to enjoy this natural environment.
Consequently, APPEC has always resisted seeing Ostrander Point as the sacrificial lamb that will protect the rest of the County from other industrial wind projects. The announcement of WPD Canada’s White Pines project proves that Ostrander Point is just the first victim of predatory wind development. If construction goes ahead, it will be more difficult to challenge other projects, especially on environmental grounds.
“More wind projects are officially planned for Athol and Hillier, and WPD has leased land in North Marysburgh. But since developers operate in secrecy for years before announcing projects, no one in the County should be sleeping easily. ”
Treat Hull, Green Party provincial candidate and the GPO’s Energy Critic, was in attendance at the gathering and also submitted a statement in response to Gilead Power’s request for written feedback concerning the wind energy project it has proposed to develop at Ostrander Point.
“Industrial-scale wind energy is obviously a highly controversial subject in Ontario, with strongly held views on both sides of the issue.
“However, leading naturalist organizations such as Nature Canada and Ontario Nature – groups that otherwise support wind energy – oppose this project due to its location inside the Important Bird Area, stating, ‘This project is a most egregious example of a renewable energy project that is simply located in the wrong place.’
“I respect these organizations and believe it’s worth taking the time to listen to their concerns. When strong advocates of the government’s wind energy program have such objections, it is clearly time to put aside our different views on wind energy in general and to agree that this is, plain and simple, the wrong place for such a project.
“I am therefore opposed to Gilead Power’s application for to proceed with the Ostrander Point project because of the risk it poses to migratory birds. I hope that the representatives of the other major political parties, regardless of their views on wind energy, will join me in opposing this
poorly sited project.”
Federal Green Party candidate Patrick Larkin has also submitted written opposition to the project, citing the need for a full environmental impact study.
“Furthermore, the current Prince Edward County council has voted in favour of a moratorium. I believe, therefore, that local government must be informed and involved in any decision to proceed.”
The project will consist of nine turbines, each generating 2.5MW for a capacity of 22.5 MW. Each turbine is 85m tall; each blade 48.7m long and the total height is 135m.
Gilead states comprehensive studies have been completed over the past four years in accordance with regulatory requirements, noting the project area “has a very good wind resource due to its proximity to Lake Ontario.”
The project will include electrical collection lines (buried); access roads, and a transformer substation. All project infrastructure willbe wholly located on Crown land known as the Ostrander Point Crown Land block within South Marysburgh. Hydro One will be designing, constructing and operating a transmission line that will connect the project to the provincial grid at the Milford Distribution station.
Gilead has completed detailed studies, analysis and work required to obtain a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the project. The draft REA reports were issued to the community for review and comment on February 10, 2011. Gilead is in the studies and consultation stage of applying for approval from the Ministry of the Environment.
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT ON-SITE SURVEYS
Gilead’s environmental assessments were conducted between 2006 and 2010. Included werfe assessments of the vegetation communities and associated wetlands, wildlife monitoring surveys and a review of surface water features – including endangered species surveys for Whip-poor-will, Blanding’s Turtle and Golden Eagle.
In its “Potential Natural Environment Effects” report, Gilead responds to environmental assessments and stakeholder input:
“The length of new access roads have been minimized;
Disturbance to local flora and wildlife habitat comprises approximately 1.9 per cent of the available habitat in the study area;
Large contiguous areas of shrubland alvar will remain intact in the eastern portion of the study area;
Tree and brush clearing will be completed prior to or after the breeding seasonf or migratory birds (May 1 to July 23);
The amount of available habitat necessary to sustain current populations will be maintained during construction and operation;
No loss of species is anticipated from the construction of the project.”
Post-construction, Gilead notes bird and bat mortality monitoring will take place for a minimum of three years. Gilead also plans ongoing hydrological monitoring, disturbance effects monitoring of amphibians and breeding birds and monitoring in accordance with endangered species permits. A qualified biologist will be on-site during the construction to ensure compliance with the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program approved by the MNR.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
“Low frequency sound and infrasound from current generation wind turbines are well below the sound pressure levels at which known health effects occur,” Gilead said in its presentation. “Tehre is no scientific evidence to date that vibration from low frequency wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects.”
Gilead quotes a summary from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health: “…while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”
On noise, Gilead stated “the predicted noise produced by the project was found to be within the acceptable limits established by the MOE at all noise receptors and at all wind speeds.”
Gilead acknowledged stakeholder comments and experiences related to potential property values impacts.
“Based on available data, wind energy facilities including those in Ontario, show no evidence of a material negative effect on property values. Studies used to support the conclusion have been provided on the project website www.gileadpower.com/ostrander-reference-materials.htm)
Gilead cites a minimum 20-year revenue source to the County through municipal property tax payments;
Approximately $2.3 million accrued to the local community during construction;
Up to 50 per cent of the peak labour force during construction will be supplied by the local community;
and Gilead expects to pay approximately $250,000 per year to the province in lease payments.
Due date for public comment inclusion in the REA Application April 15, 2011.
Submission of REA Application – late April, early May.
30-day Environmental Registry posting and review period to be determined by the MOE.
Project construction (if approved) October 2011.
Commercial operation – December 2011.
Comments must be received by April 15.
phone: 519-836-6050 (collect)
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