Ireland’s Vortex Wind and DPEnergy intend to construct a 36 turbine, 60 megawatt project east of Montreal River on the Lake Superior highlands. Peter Harte, president of Vortex Wind Power, said in a news interview(Calming the windy worries, Sault Star, April 2) that the developers had spent three years studying the area under Ontario’s stringent environmental assessment requirements, concluding that no significant bird flyway exists in the area of their site.
What did the study reveal? During the 2007 fall and 2008 spring raptor migrations one environmentalist counted birds on 10 partial days for a few hours each day. The report outlined that he accumulated a total of 34 hours of observation. Based on this limited count frequency we are asked to believe the wind proponents’conclusion that no significant migration route exists here.
Thirty-seven species of birds were identified in the fall migration season. Of 739 birds observed, 108 were raptors. During spring migration, 38 species numbered 180 birds of which 48 were raptors. Based on an average of counting birds for 3? hours over only 10 days in two years, Mr. Harte concludes that birds will not be impacted by the project.
Three of the raptors identified in the count were peregrine falcons, a species at risk. Only seven peregrine falcon nesting locations exist in Lake Superior Provincial Park that borders the wind project. Can citizens trust the proponents that the few peregrine falcons that nest here will not be impacted by their project? Since peregrine falcons can forage within 20 kilometres from their nest sites, this creates a concern that individual falcons could die at the wind turbine site. A few losses may compromise the genetic diversity within this small population, jeopardizing their survival in the park.
There are serious questions as to whether the Phase One Avian Assessment met all of the protocols which the Canadian Wildlife Service, (CWS) Environment Canada sets out in The Recommended Protocols for Monitoring Impacts of Wind Turbines on Birds.
The following CWS protocols appear to have been overlooked in the avian impact report. Why?
* Recommended “area searches” in different habitats to determine an accurate species list.
* A night radar survey to count migrating songbirds and raptors.
* A minimum daily bird count period of six hours.
* Intensive count studies over several days per week.
* Interviewing permanent and seasonal area residents to determine their traditional knowledge of bird nesting locations.
As citizens, we are encouraged by our provincial politicians to blindly trust industrial wind companies to do the proper studies and to trust that our government agencies will verify that these studies are scientifically sound. But how can we trust reports that have not met the scientific criteria before being released to the public?
What is required is that the Bow Lake Wind Project be put on hold, monitoring protocols adhered to, and a realistic avian study be conducted with an unbiased, independent, scientific peer review.
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