KINGSTON – A group that opposes the proposed building of wind turbines on Amherst Island hopes a letter to the provincial government will discourage it from approving a wind project planned for the island.
Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp., through its subsidiary Windlectric Inc., is planning to erect 33 to 37 wind turbines on the island, each of which would stand 50 storeys high, that would generate 75 megawatts. The project is awaiting approval from the Ontario government.
In a letter dated Nov. 15, Peter Large, president of the Association to Protect Amherst Island, states that the “unique, bio-diverse” island wouldn’t be a suitable for an “industrial-scale wind-turbine complex” because it is, among other reasons, an important migration stop for a variety of endangered birds.
“We now know a lot more about the biodiversity of the island, how important it is for migrating birds, how significant it is internationally… but some of the things have been brought to light by, quite frankly, objective, professional research,” he said in an interview.
Large said that he is aware of “an independent” study being conducted by a well-known ornithologist is almost finished.
“It was important, I think, apart from people just feeling good or not good about the island, to actually take a science-based approach to anything we say about why turbines should not go here,” he explained.
Amherst Island, Large wrote, is an internationally known Important Bird Area, and is not just a haven for migratory birds, but also bird watchers.
“The government, I think, has to value… that the island is a credit to the province in its current state,” he said. “People come here by the hundreds just for this.”
In his letter, Large also points out that Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller recently stated that “no turbines should be built here” since it is part of the “chain of support for migrating birds using the east Atlantic Flyway.”
While 17 landowners on the island signed up for turbines, more than 200 did not, Large said.
Large recalled that Premier Dalton McGuinty said there were plenty of communities who wanted wind projects, and that those opposed to them can go to the “bottom of the list.”
That is precisely where Large and company would like to be, he said.
“We’re saying, ‘We don’t want turbines, we want to go to the bottom of the list,;” Large offered.
“Well, the premier seems to have forgotten that promise, which is why we’re writing again. We’re just reminding (Natural Resources Minister Michael) Gravell that his government has actually said this.”
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