More work should be done to determine the local and regional populations of the little brown bat before wind turbines are allowed to be constructed.
hat was the opinion of two bat experts brought in by Preserve Clearview during a Feb. 28 remedy hearing for WPD Canada’s proposed eight-turbine Fairview Wind project in Clearview Township.
The Environmental Review Tribunal ruled in October the proposed 500-foot-tall turbines, west of Stayner, posed a risk to pilots flying at the Collingwood Regional Airport and the Stayner Aerodrome as well as to the bat.
The bat is listed as an endangered species in Canada.
The tribunal gave WPD the opportunity to prove the turbines would not negatively impact either. The company did not say how it would remedy the project in relation to pilots and instead focused on how to mitigate the impact of the development when it came to bats.
The company has proposed curtailing the speed of the blades during evening hours when the project is operational. It also proposed “enhanced mitigation” in the event a bat is killed by the turbines.
Ecologist Sarah Mainguy and biologist Susan Holroyd both testified a better understanding is needed of the local bat population, as well as the regional population of bats that would move through the area on their way to hibernation spots in the Niagara Escarpment.
“There’s uncertainty in the number of bats and roosts, there’s uncertainty in what routes they take, (and) the location of other important habitat for bats is unknown,” Mainguy testified.
“With all these uncertainties, the long-term attrition of the population is likely.”
“There’s been no investigation for the area at all and it really needs to be done,” Holroyd said during her testimony, delivered via Skype from her office in Calgary. “We really have no idea of the community of bats (in the area), and no idea of baseline data.”
Dr. Scott Reynolds, who developed the proposed mitigation and monitoring practices for the Fairview Wind project, testified the measures were “consistent with what’s proven to be effective.”
He also testified that turbines aren’t the biggest risk factor for bats, and more are killed by cats and other predators, collisions with cars, or pesticides.
Holroyd suggested that based on bat mortality data from other wind turbine sites, mitigation measures have produced variable results when it comes to the impact on the little brown bat.
The parties now have 12 weeks to make final written submissions and responses on the remedies proposed by WPD. A decision of the tribunal is not likely to be delivered until summer.
Preserve Clearview’s Chuck Magwood hoped the testimony of Holroyd and Mainguy was enough to sway tribunal chairs Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins.
“The dangers of proceeding with the turbines in the face of the risk to (bats) has been proven out,” he told the media at the conclusion of the hearing.
“We were proud of our witnesses, they were rock solid in their information, and I don’t think they were shaken in any way.”
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