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Wind review process spins on  

Credit:  By Nicole Kleinsteuber | Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | www.intelligencer.ca ~~

The environmental review hearing into wind turbines in Prince Edward County, being touted as precedent-setting by wind opponents in the County, gears up again Monday for the second week of proceedings.

At the core of the hearings is a motion to delay Gilead Power’s plan to break ground on a nine turbine wind project approved for Prince Edward County’s south shore in April.

The stay motion, filed by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists – the group that got the ball rolling on appealing Gilead’s project approval – is an attempt to give the Environmental Review Tribunal an opportunity to hear all the expert testimony before giving Gilead the final okay.

The proceedings kicked off at Sophiasburg Town Hall on Mar. 4 with opening statements from PECFN’s lawyer Eric Gillespie, the Ministry of Environment’s attorney Sylvia Davis and Gilead Power’s council Doug Hamilton.

On Tuesday the tribunal, the parties, presenters, participants and their lawyers took a tour of Ostrander Point. For two and a half hours, the group ventured through the picturesque yet soggy terrain. The goal was for newcomers to become acquainted with the 324 hectare site soon to be home to a class 4 22.5 megawatt wind farm.

Dr. Paul Catling is a research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada was the first expert witness for PECFN to take the stand on Wednesday in Sophiasburg. During his testimony Dr. Catling said proper botanical studies had not been carried out as part of the Environmental Impact Study of the site.

Catling concluded only 30 per cent of the species occurring on the alvar-rich site has been identified.

Through a Power Point presentation Catling reviewed his own investigation of Ostrander Point and contrasted it with other studies carried out since the late 1990’s. He concluded the project would cause serious and irreversible damage to the natural alvar environment with the additions of roads and turbine pads to the area.

Hamilton didn’t get an opportunity to cross examine Catling on Wednesday. He is set to begin questioning on Monday.

The court heard testimony from Dr. Robert Malcolm Ruthven Barclay from Calgary on Thursday via video conference.

Barclay is a professor and the head of the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Calgary.

Barclay provided evidence based on the facts given in documents related to the wind facility and those from previous studies. Specifically, Barclay focused on the January 2010 report prepared for Gilead by Stantec Consulting entitled, “Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park Acoustic Bat Monitoring Report.”

Barclay admitted the report was accurate in stating there are no bat species at risk. But in the three years that have passed, the emergence of ‘white nose syndrome’ has caused the decline of two bat species. This condition has resulted in an emergency posting as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO).

Barclay told the court he didn’t agree with the Ontario Bat Guidelines for Industrial Wind Turbines projects because the allowable threshold of killing seven bats per year per turbine is inadequate.

He said with the number of turbines growing in North America, the cumulative effects of such a high fatality rate on top of the effects of white nose will cause harm to the species at a population level. He also mentioned that with all the projects planned for the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the South Shore of the County that the cumulative kill rate would be unacceptable. He used the analogy of hunting regulations were a hunter is allowed a set number of ducks, but the number of hunters is also controlled.

The hearing continues on March 18 with the court hearing PECFN’s motion to delay construction planned for April until the proceedings are summed up in July. Also David Okines, a biologist will take the stand. Okines has been involved with collecting data at over 12 different bird observatories from Britain and across Canada. Okines has been employed at the Prince Edward Bird Observatory (PEPTBO) for 10 years. He will be providing technical evidence based on the data collected during spring and fall migrations over the past 10 years at the PEPTBO in the County.

The next block of hearing proceedings run from March 25 to 28. Witnesses have not yet been completely listed.

Source:  By Nicole Kleinsteuber | Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | www.intelligencer.ca

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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