September 5, 2011

A political game

By Jeff Labine, 4 September 2011

Despite Horizon Wind Inc. not having the right permits, some people say the protection of the endangered peregrine falcons won’t be enough to stop the wind farm from happening.

Linda Jeffrey, the minister of Minister of Natural Resources, sent a letter to MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay – Atikokan) stating Horizon Wind never applied for a permit that would exempt the company from the Endangered Species Act and the project was unlikely to get one.

“I don’t know how the proponent could satisfy the conditions to allow my Ministry to issue a permit to allow the project to proceed,” Jeffrey said in the letter. “I am not prepared to issue a permit at this time, nor do I understand how a permit could be issued for this site.”

Since the peregrine falcons have made the Nor’Wester mountain range their home and are protected under the act, Horizon Wind can’t begin construction until they receive an exemption.

But those who spoke to on Sunday said they believed that the birds alone wouldn’t be enough to stop the project from happening.

Kurt Martell said it was a double standard to complain about the endangerment of the peregrine falcons when other parts of the country allow far more environmentally harmful production to go forward.

“I think it is hypocritical for us as Canadians to think that oh we can’t build a wind farm because we’re hurting birds meanwhile we have the tar sands across the country that are wiping out our Aboriginal people and more species than we’re worried about here,” Martell said.

“I don’t understand why we’re hearing about this now at this point in the project. It’s a political game. (Mauro) has to appease all those constituents against the wind farm so I guess he has to take their side. It is a political move. I’m sure it is. You have to please everybody but you can’t please everybody.”

Sara Boyer shared Martell’s opinion about the falcons not halting the project but didn’t know for sure if it was a politically motivated move.

Boyer said she thought the wind farm was a good idea and hoped that it would go through.

“I think anything that supports alternative energy is a plus,” Boyer said. “I think we have no choice we have to explore (alternative energy). For sure we have to protect the animals and we don’t want people living around wind farms to be upset but I don’t know the ins and outs of licensing. All I know it is something that we need to explore.”

Judy Watts on the other hand wasn’t sure what side she was on. She said she didn’t know much about the issue to give a detailed answer but didn’t understand why the wind farm has to be so close to a residential area.

Watts said she didn’t think the endangerment of the falcons was enough to stop the project because there’s enough land that the company could move the wind farm to another location.

“The land is so vast that the endangered species have plenty of places to be as well,” Watts said. “I don’t think it is (political posturing). I think it is just another obstacle (the ministry) has put in (Horizon Wind’s) way.”

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