PICTON – There was plenty of bluster at council here over wind turbine developments on Ostrander Point as Prince Edward County council heard presentations from members of the Prince Edward Field Naturalists group warn that turbines would mean bird kills.
The presenters, Cheryl Anderson and Myrna Wood asked council to adopt a two-pronged motion that would endorse their comments to the Ministry of Natural Resources and deny Gilead Power permission to erect nine wind turbines on Ostrander Point.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has allotted 30 days in which the public can comment on their decision to allow the Gilead Power to commence construction. Part of Gilead’s application includes permission to “harass and kill” birds and turtles in the construction and operation of the wind turbines
“We’ll be really, really happy when the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment deny permission for these turbines,” said Anderson. “It’s all a part of the process to raise awareness and to show everybody that this is the wrong place for wind turbines.”
Anderson and Wood said they support green energy, but not at Ostrander Point.
“Why destroy the environment we’re trying to save with renewable energy. Any industrial development will destroy the habitat, not just turbines,” said Wood in an interview.
Wood said there are thousands of other places the turbines can be built that won’t disrupt the Blanding Turtles and Whip-poor-wills – species that have been identified as threatened by the Ostrander Point installations.
“That argument that it has to be there or nowhere doesn’t carry any weight with us,” said Wood.
Coun. Bev Campbell asked Anderson and Wood if they have met with landowners in the area to find out if there is an interest in wind energy development.
“We’re concerned about birds not turbines,” said Anderson.
Mayor Peter Mertens said he agrees with the naturalist group.
“If they say there’s a concern then I tend to believe them. Especially when they’re not opposed to green energy, instead they’re in favour of maintaining the bird population and their habitats,” said Mertens in an interview.
During their deputation, Anderson and Wood said Prince Edward County is the penultimate refuelling refuse for birds migrating from South and Central America on their way from the boreal forest.
“In the spring they can be seen on Doppler radar massing on the south shore of Lake Ontario waiting for an appropriate time to cross over to the closest land, which is Prince Edward County. When they arrive they are tired and very hungry,” said Anderson.
If the Ostrander Point wind farm is permitted, the naturalists say, the migrating birds would arrive exhausted from their flight and fly right into the blades of the turbines.
Coun. Brian Marisett suggested developing a staff report before endorsing the naturalist’s comments to the ministry.
“We only have a 30 day window to do this. We don’t have time for staff to research this and get back to us. By then we will have missed our shot. We need to proceed with this,” said Coun. Alec Lunn.
“There are comments here that I’d like to endorse, however we’ve already made our input to the ministry on the Gilead proposal. I just want to be sure that wer’e not doing something that is at odds with our own comments, said Coun. Bev Campbell.
Coun. Quaiff said he fully supports the endorsement and council taking a firmer stance.
“Where do we go to get the staff to get the report from? It’s going to be the same information that’s before us tonight. Frankly this is just another endorsement of a motion for moratorium that this council has already passed in previous meetings,” said Quaiff.
“I think this report gives credence to the reason for our request for a moratorium. There are still things that need to be researched, that need to be explained,” said Coun. Terry Shortt.
Coun. Forrester pointed out that not every councillor is in favour of a moratorium and he’s spoken to residents who aren’t as well.
“With all the people I’ve talked to about wind energy. The majority aren’t opposed to wind turbine development,” said Forrester.
Forrester said he fully understands the concerns brought forth by the naturalist group, but he thinks more proactive resolutions towards renewable energy need to be initiated.
“When are we going to start looking at solutions for our problems and for our children’s future?” said Forrester.
Council carried the motion to receive the group’s deputation and endorse their comments to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
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