The wind turbine project for Amherst Island has been a contentious issue since it was first proposed in 2011. Many residents of the island and the rest of Loyalist Township have been vocal about their disapproval throughout the lengthy application process, and while recent developments to the project are an improvement, the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) still isn’t satisfied.
“Algonquin/Windelectric Inc. just published a fourth modification to their original application,” explained APAI board member Denise Wolfe. “They originally proposed to construct and operate a 33-36 wind turbine project, but now they purpose to construct 26 higher powered turbines.”
While the reduction of the size of the project is a welcome development, this decrease in the number of turbines does not adequately respond to the concerns of the community regarding the natural and cultural heritage.
“Amherst Island is just not the right place for an industrial wind development for a myriad of reasons including the species at risk, natural heritage and built heritage. There is just no room for turbines, really,” said Wolfe.
APAI is primarily concerned with the migratory paths of birds and bats that will be obstructed by the turbines. There are also a large number of species at risk that use the habitat of the island; many fear those habitats will be destroyed.
“The new development truly has not made any real changes to the project,” said Wolfe. “It has removed some turbines and that is certainly a good thing, but there are still four turbines near Owl Woods and turbines will still be in the migratory paths of the birds and the bats. They will still be intruding on the natural heritage.”
Wolfe and APAI are also concerned about the construction of the turbines themselves. The process is expected to take 12-18 months and Wolfe is concerned that heavy equipment will be travelling throughout towns, obstructing roads and interfering with schools.
“Amherst Island is being treated like it is an empty field with no people in it,” said Wolfe. “The developer is not taking into consideration that they will be sending a large number of very large construction vehicles into the area and there is just simply no room for this type of project.”
At this stage, APAI continues to contact the government and follow the avenues that are available to them via the government process. They are also working to contact government employees and ministers at various levels to make sure that their voices are heard.
APAI sees no compromise in the existing project and they would like to see to see the proposal denied and the entire project come to an end before it starts.
“We are preparing for a legal fight should the project be approved,” said Wolfe. “We are also encouraging more and more people to write letters and join APAI.”
For more information about APAI and to voice concerns and support visit www.protectamherstisland.ca
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