Wind farms and endangered or threatened species
The rules for operating a wind facility (a wind farm or turbine) that may affect a species or habitat protected by law. —- Effective July 1, 2013.
Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered and threatened species — animals and plants in decline and at risk of disappearing from the province. You need to follow certain rules if you operate a wind facility that could affect a protected species or habitat. Different rules apply if you want to build a new wind facility.
You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:
- Endangered Species Act, 2007
- Ontario Regulation 242/08 (general)
- register the activity and the affected species with the Ministry of Natural Resources (before work begins)
- take immediate steps to minimize the effects to the species and habitat
- create and implement a mitigation plan for each species
- report sightings of rare species (and update registration documentation, if needed)
- use an expert to monitor the effects of operations on a species and how effective your steps have been to minimize the impact on it
- report on species and activities
Report a species
If you see or encounter a species, you must inform the Natural Heritage Information Centre — within 3 months of a sighting or encounter.
To report a sighting:
- fill out a Rare Species Reporting form online
- complete each section in the report
- hit the submit button to send in the report
How to register
- download a Notice of Activity form (PDF)
- list the activity as: Wind Facilities – Operations
- complete and save the form
- email the form to: MNR.email@example.com
Cost of registration = free
Processing your registration
You’ll get an email to let you know we’ve received your form.
We’ll send you an official Confirmation of Registration, once a registration is processed. The registration takes effect once you get this confirmation.
Keep a copy of the confirmation as proof of registration.
Applications will only be processed on regular business days.
Minimize effects on a species
By law, you must:
- operate in a way that is unlikely to harm the habitat
- adjust techniques to minimize the impact on a species
You must also take reasonable steps to:
- avoid killing, harming or harassing a species (e.g., shut down turbines at certain times; adjust cut-in speed)
- create or enhance habitat (e.g., create a nesting habitat in another place)
Mitigation plans should include the best available information on a species.
You can get this information from:
- The Ministry of Natural Resources
- Aboriginal traditional knowledge
- community knowledge (e.g., local nature clubs)
A plan must:
- be prepared by an expert on the species
- be updated every 5 years
- describe the location of the wind facility
- say how you will minimize effects on species
Deadlines for plans
In most cases, you must have a plan prepared before the work you do affects a species or its habitat.
You have 3 years to complete the plan:
- from the date the species first appeared on the site or
- from January 24, 2013 (if the species was added to the list on this day)
You must keep plans:
- while you are operating and
- for 5 years after you stop operating
You need to give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources, if asked.
Special requirements for new facilities
Before you can operate a new wind facility:
- prepare and submit a mitigation plan to the Ministry of Natural Resources before you apply for Renewable Energy Approval to the Ministry of the Environment
- if you’ve already applied: submit a mitigation plan before your renewable energy application is approved
The Ministry of Natural Resources must approve a mitigation plan before operations begin.
You must prepare a report that includes:
- information on how an operation affects a species and habitat
- how you minimized effects on a species and how effective they were
- any observations/sightings of a species
When to prepare reports
After you register:
- each year for the first 3 years
- every 5 years after that
When extended timelines apply (you have an extra 3 years to complete a mitigation plan)
After you register:
- each year for the first 6 years
- every 5 years after that
You must keep reports for 5 years — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources, if asked.
When you need a permit
You could still need a permit if:
- you are building a new wind farm or turbine
- operations will affect the Golden Eagle
To apply for a permit, you need to contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources office.
New or proposed wind farms
You could need a permit to build a new wind facility. If the project is in the final stages of approval, you may not need a permit.
Identify a species at risk
If you are unsure about a certain species – and would like help identifying or confirming what it is – you can see photos and get more information on the Endangered Species website.
Updated: June 28, 2013