Protesters attempted to stop a wind energy company from removing an active bald eagle nest near Fisherville this weekend – but their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
According to the Ontario Wind Resistance website, NextEra Energy employees cut down a tree limb holding the nest around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The Ministry of Natural Resources authorized the removal at the Summerhaven Wind Energy Centre last week.
“Removing the nest will reduce the risk of eagle mortality at the site,” the ministry said in the permit. “NextEra plans to provide artificial nests in the surrounding areas to ensure that the eagle pair can safely relocate.”
The ministry says it was made aware of the nest last summer. It was built in a tree scheduled to be removed for the construction of a road, and within 20 metres of the blade sweep of one of the project’s 56 proposed turbines.
The Summerhaven Wind Energy Centre, which is still under construction, is expected to have a maximum generating capacity of more than 120 megawatts – enough energy to power 32,000 Ontario homes. The centre is scheduled to be up and running next January near the shores of Lake Erie.
Neil Switzer, chair of the West Lincoln and Glanbrook Wind Action Group, said about two dozen protesters came from as far away as Stayner, Ont., near the coast of Lake Huron, to try to stop the nest’s destruction.
“There are only 50-some bald eagle nests in Ontario,” he said. “This is one.”
“There’s no end to the limits that the government will go to accommodate the wind industry,” he added.
He also cautioned that the issue is much more far-reaching than Haldimand County.
The development of wind farms is threatening bird species across Ontario, Switzer said. The Kingston Field Naturalists, for instance, estimate 12 million migratory birds will be put at risk if two large offshore wind turbine projects move forward in the area.
“This is just the beginning,” Switzer said.
OPP Constable Mark Foster said some officers attended the nest removal Saturday in the course of their regular duties. No additional officers were called in or dispatched.
“People were upset about it, but there were no issues,” he said.
Foster said NextEra employees didn’t end up destroying the nest as the permit allowed – and instead, placed it in storage.
NextEra couldn’t confirm this on Sunday. A staff member said no one was available to speak to the issue.
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