June 9, 2011 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists submitted joint comments today to the Province of Ontario, voicing opposition to a proposed permit allowing Gilead Power Corporation to “kill, harm and harass” endangered species and their habitat at Ostrander Point, Ontario. The wind energy company seeks permission to damage or destroy habitat for two endangered species, Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will, for the purpose of developing Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park.
“Nature Canada along with its partners Ontario Nature and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists agree climate change poses one of the greatest risks to biodiversity,” said Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada’s manager of bird conservation. “We fully support the Ontario government’s intention to expand the use of clean and renewable sources of energy through its Green Energy and Green Economy Act. However, in responding to climate change, we must not sacrifice biodiversity and significant habitats. Protecting wildlife, threatened species and their habitat is vitally important if we are to buffer the effects of climate change and provide options for wildlife that must cope with predicted changes.”
The Gilead project proposes building and operating nine wind turbines within Ostrander Point Crown Land Block, a critical refuelling spot for birds migrating from South and Central America on their way to and from Canada’s Boreal Forest. It is the site of the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area near Kingston Ontario, and sits on provincial Crown land that is also a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest.
The wind park is only a few kilometers from the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, the only NWA specifically recognized for its importance for migrating landbirds. Environment Canada has described the site where the turbines are proposed as “one of the best areas for birds in southern Ontario.”
“Requesting a permit like this is an unusual step in Canada for a wind energy project, but one that appears to be an admission that the project will be impacting threatened species at the site where the turbines are to be built,” said Cheskey. “Provincial regulators should adopt policies and guidelines that exclude wind energy projects from Important Bird Areas and other areas that are known to be of importance to endangered wildife.”
In the joint comments submitted today, the conservation groups voiced concern that alternative locations were not thoroughly considered, and that there’s been no demonstration that species will benefit from this project.
“The Endangered Species Act sets a high standard regarding permits to damage or destroy endangered species habitat or to harm or harass a member of an endangered species,” said Cheskey. “In the end the project proponent must provide an overall benefit to the species, and there is no evidence that Gilead has done that.”
The joint comments have been posted online and made available to the public.
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Manager, Bird Conservation
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