Have you ever felt heartsick? That’s what I call it when I see something I can’t really do anything about but you know in your core it’s just wrong on so many levels.
I took a tour of the work that is happening on MacLean’s Mountain to install the industrial wind turbines. As I looked at all of the land being destroyed, the wetlands being filled in, truck after truck of gravel going up and down the back roads, blasting the rock, that’s how I felt – heartsick.
If you want to see the beauty that is McLean’s Mountain and surrounding area I would suggest you visit now because it is going to be long gone in just a few short months.
I find it fascinating that people have been shrugging off the project and still seem surprised when anyone talks about how it may affect the Island and its peoples. They seem to think the turbines are plunked down without the connecting lines to the transmission line that will take this highly subsidized energy off the Island.
Each of the 24 turbines needs to have clear cutting to take the connector lines to the transmission line, imagine if you will a spider web of lines all over the mountain and going down Greenbush Road to Harbor Vue road and then underwater to Goat Island. When I was there, a barge in the North Channel was laying down the submarine cable. At the end of Harbor Vue road they are building a transition station, which according to one source, was not part of the original plan.
It seems many people are getting more than they bargain for with this project. Even the transmission line poles are not like any hydro poles I’ve seen. They are from 25 metres to 32 metres tall and the ones I saw and took pictures of were oozing some kind of treatment while lying in the ditch waiting to be put up.
A couple of weeks ago, an environmental review tribunal overturned the province’s earlier approval of a wind turbine site in Prince Edward County due to the rare Blanding’s turtle, saying the required access roads would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the rare reptile.
But the province is challenging the findings and it is being appealed to divisional court. The craziness continues.
We have our own Ministry of the Environment deciding it’s OK to overlook its own Endangered Species Act. No wonder people have given up fighting the projects.
It took four hours to drive around to all the sites. During that time, we saw deer, hawks, eagles, ravens, too many songbirds to count and signs of all types of wildlife. The marshland they are filling up so they can put turbines and road access across will be killing off an eco system that we will never get back. Manitoulin Island is one of the 10 most biodiverse islands in the world. And this is what we do to it? It is this disregard of the environment that is discouraging.
Northland Power has hired H.P. White, a company whose head office is in the United States, to do the construction work and when you drive around you can see where they have built the roads big enough to accommodate the huge turbines that will soon be coming onto the Island. Each of these is 94 metres to the nacelle (electrical generator) and the blades are 50 metres above that.
If it could be proven to me that all of this destruction would help with climate change or not harm people or birds and bats, maybe I would change my view. I don’t trust a company like Northland that has 10 paid lobbyists at Queen’s Park, and I don’t trust a government that went against every recommendation the Auditor General put forth about the Green Energy Act. Plus the fact that all of the ministers who have ever been involved have since ran or should I say resigned. The only thing I know for sure is that our Island will never be the same. That’s what I mean when I say ‘heartsick’.
Look for part two of this saga with my next column.
Ruth Farquhar is a freelance writer based on Manitoulin Island.
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