(Open letter to Jim Bradley, Minister of the Environment)
The Ministry of Environment’s decision not to conduct an Individual Environmental Assessment of access roads at Ostrander Point, announced in your December 19, 2012 letter, is based on numerous errors in fact and judgment.
Your letter states that between March and April 2011 you received 21 requests from members of the public. In point of fact, the Honourable John Wilkinson, then Minister of Environment (MOE), received the requests. In the last election Mr. Wilkinson was held accountable for his mishandling of the MOE portfolio.
Only 17 of the 21 requests came from members of the public. The other four requests were from organizations which collectively represent thousands of citizens. Why does your letter diminish the significance of comments by the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County; the South Shore Conservancy; Friends of Arron Lake, Wind Concerns Ontario Grey Bruce; and the Prince Edward Field Naturalists, Ontario Nature and Nature Canada?
All the requests point out the extensive impact of the access roads:
fragmentation of wildlife habitat by the loop design
destruction/loss of alvar and woodland habitat
disturbance of avian and terrestrial wildlife during wind turbine construction and during the next 25 years of operation due to increased on-site human activities
harm, harassment and killing of two threatened species, Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle, albeit authorized by a Ministry of Natural Resources permit
disturbance to raptors, especially protected Bald and Golden Eagles.
Since access roads are integral to the wind energy project, they cannot be separated in terms of effects. Both roads and wind turbines are located on a major migration corridor used by millions of birds, bats and butterflies. Both roads and wind turbines will destroy rare habitat that sustains migrating and resident wildlife, particularly 20 species of conservation concern, including Rusty Blackbird, Short-Eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Red-headed Woodpecker, and the Monarch Butterfly.
Thousands of eagles, owls and other raptors have already perished in North America as a result of colliding with massive turbine towers and blades at poorly-sited wind projects. The raptors and migratory birds that avoid wind turbines are also at risk as they disperse to inhospitable outlying areas without adequate food, water and shelter.
Bats in the thousands are also dying, either from direct collision with turbine blades or as their lungs explode from rapid changes in air pressure when they get close to turbines.
In approving the Ostrander Point project the government of Ontario is contravening international treaties such as the Migratory Birds Act and the treaty to protect Monarch Butterflies. National and international environmental societies, too numerous to mention, have all told the Ontario government that industrial wind turbines should not go into this Important Bird Area (IBA). Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner has called for a halt to wind projects in all Ontario IBAs. The Canadian Senate has called for a moratorium on industrial wind projects along the migratory route.
Mr. Bradley, anyone who had actually read the 21 requests for an Individual Environmental Assessment would be too embarrassed to say, as you did in your letter, that you are “satisfied” the Ostrander Point project has met “the purpose of the Environmental Assessment Act, the betterment of the people of the whole or part of Ontario, by providing for the protection, conservation and wise management of the environment.”
Perhaps you are satisfied, Mr. Bradley, but the people of Ontario are not.
Chair, County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy
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