The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) hearing on the White Pines Wind Project in Southern Prince Edward County continued on Wednesday in Wellington.
John Hirsch, one of the appellants, and Jim Bowlby, a participant in the appeal, testified the 27-turbine development will cause serious and irreversible harm to the environment.
Hirsch told ERT co-chairs Marcia Valiante and Hugh Wilkins of his long-time active community involvement and interest in environmental stewardship.
Hirsch informed the ERT panel the government’s conclusion no serious and irreversible harm would result from the White Pines Wind Project is based on incomplete, outdated and faulty information.
Hirsch outlined the following issues in his presentation to the tribunal:
• No accurate accounting of bird and bat mortality as the prescribed method has been proven to dramatically understate the numbers;
• Overall Canadian global population levels are used by wpd/Stantec as opposed to local or regional counts. The harm needs to be adjusted to the local project area;
• Cumulative effects are not considered;
• Lack of consideration of over-lake migration route;
• The siting of the White Pines Wind Project goes against documented MNRF and Environment Canada guidelines;
• No remedies when mortality thresholds are exceeded;
• No evidence provided by the MOECC (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) of independent verification of environmental facts;
• There is no basis in fact avoidance measures (read: “mitigations”) by wpd to prevent serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtle as this matter is still before the ERT hearing on Gilead Power’s wind project at Ostrander Point.
No questions were raised to Hirsch by Sylvia Davis, counsel for the MOECC, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, or Patrick Duffy, counsel for the approval holder/wind developer wpd Canada.
The tribunal accepted Bowlby as qualified to give evidence as a fisheries biologist. The tribunal noted Bowlby’s employment with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) as a Fisheries Assessment Biologist and more recently as a co-ordinator for the Lake Ontario Management Unit.
Bowlby gave evidence of the presence of spawning runs of White Suckers and Northern Pike in the Black Creek tributary, which is known as an exceptionally high quality spawning habitat. White Suckers spawn within 120 metres of a proposed access road and transmission line. Northern Pike migrate downstream of the REA area but these pike are dependent on streamflow that originates within the REA area.
Bowlby gave his opinion that if road and transmission line construction disrupts the aquifer supplying water to this stream and reduces streamflow, then the fish habitat and fish spawning in the stream will suffer serious and irreversible harm.
He also advised the tribunal of five fissures or cracks in the ground within 120 metres of Turbine 2. Some of the fissures are more than two metres deep and form caves that are consistent with the MNRF descriptions of bat hibernacula. According to REA regulations, the presence of potential bat hibernacula triggers requirements for further study before approvals can be made.
“Quite simply, the entire conclusion by the MOECC that serious and irreversible harm will not be caused… is based on four MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) sign-off letters and highly questionable and biased reporting by the approval-holder’s consultant, Stantec.” said Bowlby.
Next week the parties will conduct a site visit (closed to public) on Monday with hearings to continue Tuesday and Thursday at Essroc Arena in Wellington at 10 a.m.
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