SARNIA – A group opposing Suncor Energy’s plans to build a wind farm in the Plympton-Wyoming, Ontario, community said the company’s study of the potential impact on migrating tundra swans is inadequate.
But, the company said it met provincial requirements in its application for environmental approval for the 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Energy Project.
That application is being reviewed by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment.
“As part of the application for ministry approval, Suncor completed a natural heritage assessment to assess any potential impacts to significant habitat necessary to sustain wildlife, including birds,” said ministry spokesperson Kate Jordan.
That assessment will be considered as part of the review, she said.
“No decision on the proposal has been made,” Jordan added.
The group, We’re Against Industrial Turbines, Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PM,) has been going through Suncor’s application documents and issued a press release pointing to a one-day site observation report that included a swan count carried out in 2012.
“I don’t think they gave an adequate look at it,” said WAIT-PW spokesperson Ingrid Willemsen.
“I think they need to look at an appropriate time for migration, and see that they wouldn’t interfere with the flight patterns.”
The Lambton Heritage Museum, 10035 Museum Road, Grand Bend, Ontario, said Tuesday that thousands of swans could be seen in farm fields on the nearby former Thedford bog, a traditional stopover on the swans’ spring migration to nesting grounds in the Arctic.
“We actually did do all the studies that were required of us, as part of our renewable energy approval application,” said Suncor spokesperson Jason Vaillant.
That includes the natural heritage assessment, looking at wildlife and habitat in the project area in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township, he said.
“It was the Ministry of Natural Resources that confirmed that the work that we’ve conducted was done in accordance with their guidelines,” Vaillant said. He added the company plans to continue working to understand the wildlife habitat in the area, so that it can mitigate any impacts from the Suncor project.
“We really understand that impacts on wildlife, especially tundra swans, is important for the community,” Vaillant said.
“We’ve heard that through all of our consultation with them.”
Concern about what wind turbines could mean for migrating swans, and other waterfowl, has been expressed in the past, including in 2012 when Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller said in his annual report he found shortcomings in the province’s guidelines for evaluating and reducing turbines’ harmful effects on birds, bats and their habitats.
Miller said turbines should be prohibited in Ontario’s Important Bird Areas, a designation held by the Thedford bog.
The Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group is planning to have its annual information day and demonstration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday at a popular viewing point for the swans on Greenwood Road, near the Heritage Museum.
The wind action group is fighting several wind farm projects in the region, including Nextera’s Jericho Wind farm planned for Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.
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