The travesty threatening Amherst Island

[Here is a letter written by Karen Empringham, a member of the CCSAGE Steering Committee, that speaks for many residents of the eastern Lake Ontario region.]

I am writing today about the travesty that is about to be imposed on Amherst Island.

Two links below take you to recent articles about the proposed wind project on Amherst Island that is now one step closer to reality.

“It will be a dereliction of duty if the Ministry of Environment allows a major industrial wind turbine project to go ahead on Amherst Island, Senator Bob Runciman said today. Runciman was responding to the news that the Ontario government has deemed complete a Renewable Energy Approval application by Windlectric for up to 37 giant turbines to be installed on Amherst Island, just west of Kingston. The government is now inviting public comment on the proposal until March 8.”  Rest of article: http://tinyurl.com/lpuu3yu .

“I appreciate that some see sculptural beauty in wind turbines when seen from a distance. They are not lovely up close. They are very, very big. They also cast shadows, and shadow flicker, and create noise and vibration. There will be no place on Amherst Island to escape their presence.” Rest of letter:  http://tinyurl.com/phmhd5d .

Amherst Island is a small island in the eastern end of Lake Ontario, just west of Kingston. It is part of the largest migratory flyway in North America. Wolfe Island sits a few kilometers to the east.

Wolfe Island has had an 86 turbine wind development there since 2009. Wolfe Island has the second highest bird kill record in North America. They know because they “monitor” the number of bird kills. They don’t do anything about it – just monitor it.

The Ontario government continues to turn a blind eye to the environmental devastation caused by an industrial development that is supposed to be for the “greater good”. They argue that birds are killed by running into cars and buildings every day. And cats also kill birds. So, what’s the big deal?

These are however specious arguments. Any bird kills at wind turbine projects are in addition to those already occurring elsewhere. And it matters very much at the species level which birds are being killed. We have only 57 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles left in Ontario. If a Bald Eagle was killed, it would make a huge difference. When was the last time your kitty brought home an eagle, an owl, a swan, or a bat? All of these are very much at risk from wind turbines.

The government also argues that wildlife was being killed by breathing in the pollution caused by burning coal and have been phasing out coal and replacing it with wind and solar, which are “cleaner”. Well, that is an argument for another letter. The inconvenient truth that the government is ignoring here is that wind and solar are not replacing coal, natural gas is replacing coal.

Why? Because neither wind nor solar can produce electricity on demand. In the case of wind, there is almost a complete mismatch between supply and demand. Wind produces most at night, when businesses are closed and in spring and fall. Ontario needs the most energy during the day, in the summer and in the winter.

Think about those hot airless days in summer. At least solar is producing a small (very small) portion of Ontario’s energy to keep all those air conditioners cranking. Wind? Nada!

So, back to Amherst Island. 36 turbines are proposed. They will blanket the island. The island is just one stop along the significant flyway that includes upstate New York, then Wolfe Island and Kingston, then Amherst and other smaller islands, then the eastern tip of Prince Edward County, continuing on to the South Shore of PEC, then up to Brighton and on into the boreal forest in Northern Ontario. To the best of my knowledge, no other jurisdiction in the world allows wind turbines in an IBA (Important Bird Area), which Amherst Island definitely is. Only in Ontario, eh? Pity!

The government would argue that birds, when migrating fly at heights higher than 500 feet, which may be true. It is also true of airplanes, but you would not put an array of turbines at the end of the landing strip! Regardless of how high they fly when migrating, they regularly land at the first opportunity to rest and feed after a long flight or to wait for more favourable weather conditions. Installing turbines in an important bird area, is akin to installing turbines at the end of a commercial runway.

The Ministry of the Environment has “deemed complete” the application submitted by the wind energy developer. The next step is approval, then construction. The “deemed complete” came through even though the Association to Protect Amherst Island has been documenting each and every inconsistency and error contained in the reports that make up the application. Things like water studies done at the wrong time of the year, looking for species in areas of the island where the habitat is inconsistent with their natural habitat – i.e. as if they were intentionally trying to find nothing.

In addition to being part of the migratory flyway, Amherst Island is home to many other species including a total of 34 species at risk. It is unconscionable to think that the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment would intentionally put these species at further risk just to comply with the provincial energy policy. But that is exactly what they are doing.

If you live in Toronto or Ottawa, please write your Member of Provincial Parliament and let them know you want the Green Energy Act dismantled. Forward all or part of this letter to them.

They aren’t listening to rural Ontario. They think we are just NIMBY’s who aren’t willing to make a sacrifice for the greater good. If industrial wind turbines actually made sense, I would get behind them. I would still insist that they be placed away from homes and from environmentally sensitive areas, but I would support.

However, as it is becoming increasingly clear, industrial wind turbines don’t make sense on any level. And it seems that the only way we can save our province from ruining all of rural Ontario is to put increasing pressure on the politicians who make these decisions on our behalf.

Karen Empringham
Advocate for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy

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Posted on January 19, 2014, in Advocacy / politics / legal, Human health, Local economy, Natural environment, Property values, Wind turbines. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. maggie.walker@utoronto.ca

    I think Wynn should be attached to one of the turbine blades!

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