A West Lincoln resident has asked council to write two provincial ministries regarding the threat proposed industrial wind turbines pose to native wildlife.
Loretta Shields read a letter from Cheryl Jeffery, who was unable to attend Monday’s West Lincoln council meeting, which asked the township to take action on behalf of bats and birds.
“I am asking that you use these tools and write a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources to tell them we do not want this project,” said Shields, reading from Jeffery’s letter which mentions reports Conservation Priorities for the Birds of Southern Ontario and Ontario Land Bird Conservation, which she says are valuable tools for the municipality. “This is due to our concerns for the imminent harm to the migratory birds and other lands birds that use our provincially significant woodlots and wetlands as not only staging areas for migratory birds but as important breeding habitats throughout the spring and summer months.”
“In her letter, Jeffery claims the 120 setback between wind turbines and woodlots and other habitats, is too close.
“The 120 metre setback NRWC has in its project is not enough,” she said. “Birds and bats still need to fly past the turbine to get to the woodlots.”
Jeffery claims the NRWC project will further exasperate recovery efforts that have been made to reverse population declines of certain bird species and protect species diversity.
“We need to take a stand and use the laws put in place to protect our valuable wildlife and its habitat here in West Lincoln,” read Shields.
Councillor Joanne Chechalk through her support behind the motion to support, made by Coun. Alexander Micallef. She said the ministry needs to use the same justification in all projects. She pointed to the presence of the now protected bobolink on West Lincoln farms. The listing of species as threatened in the province, has stopped farmers from cutting down hay fields, as peak times for bobolink nesting conflict with crop cutting.
“To say it isn’t the same impact is not right,” said Chechalk.
Coun. Sue Ellen Merritt agreed the province was sending mixed messages to its residents.
“The ministry needs to send a clear and consistent message regardless of whether they are talking to me as a farmer or to the wind companies,” said Merritt.
Council supported the motion and has directed staff to write to the environment ministry.
Jeffery’s was not the only West Lincoln resident making a request for support Monday night. West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group chair Neil Switzer was back at the podium, asking for council’s assistance in an appeal his citizens group has launched on behalf of Shields.
On April 9, WLGWAG launched an appeal against a decision of the Niagara Escarpment Commission to approve an application by NRWC to construct an underground transmission line down Mountainview Road in Beamsville, to connect its 230-megawatt wind farm to the provincial grid. Switzer said they launched the appeal based one of 26 conditions of the approval.
“Our position in part as stated in the appeal submission, is that we are of the opinion that condition number 18, which merely “requests submission of a letter on the plans for a Community Liaison Committee (CLC)” is inadequate to ensure disputes are resolved fairly and in a timely manner,” Switzer told members of council.
Switzer is concerned that having a separate CLC for the Town of Lincoln, would set a precedent for the CLC mandated for West Lincoln under the renewable energy approvals process.
Switzer said it is imperative that an acceptable terms of reference is established for any CLC relating to wind turbine projects. He pointed to Chemical Waste Management Liaison Committee, which he chaired, set up to deal with the PCB situation in the township.
“It wasn’t a sham or token committee,” said Switzer. “It wasn’t set up as the arm of the wind turbine company, but an arm of the municipality. A CLC will not be successful in my mind unless it is set up similar to what we had for the PCBs.”
Switzer had three asks for the township. The first request was for staff to prepare a policy report on qualitative standards for wind energy community liaison committees to be presented at the Sept. 9 planning meeting. The second request was for a township representative to attend the pre-hearing on Aug. 9 as a party, participant, presenter or witness in order to later provide evidence based on the new policy. The third request was for the township to make a request at the Aug. 9 hearing to delay the hearing to sometime after Sept. 23, when the policy would be before council.
Council approved the three requests.
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