Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) added its voice to the growing outcry against Ontario’s Green Energy Act (GEA). The national conservation organization raised concerns over wind turbines being built without consideration for migratory birds, noting that some are planned near important waterfowl staging habitat.
DUC called for a moratorium on these and other green-energy projects adjacent to continentally significant staging habitat until impacts are better known.
“The science is pretty clear for the species of waterfowl we have in Ontario” said Own Steel, DUC’s Manager of Conservation. “It isn’t direct mortality; it’s the indirect impacts wind turbines pose for waterfowl.”
Turbines, he says could result in habitat fragmentation, reduced foraging, and increased disease and predation, due to concentrating waterfowl at higher densities in foraging areas.
The GEA changed the approval process and removed much of the local input that was formerly part of it, says Steele, adding more transparency is needed regarding the construction of wind turbines and he would like to see more scientific monitoring associated with approvals.
Dr. Scott Petrie, Executive Director of Long Point Waterfowl, has been involved in the debate since a development was planned near a foraging area next to Long Point in 2005. While a compromise benefitting waterfowl was arrived at in that instance, Petrie is more concerned now because of the GEA.
“I applaud DUC and other wildlife and conservation organizations for making position statements regarding these issues,” he said.
Petrie says both onshore and possible planned offshore turbines can also be detrimental to butterflies, bats, raptors, species at risk, and fisheries. Comments through the Environmental Bill of Rights on a new set of guidelines for birds and wind turbines just closed as this issue went to press. The proposals, if adopted, would set a new threshold regarding acceptable bird kills and identify potential negative effects from wind turbines on bird habitat.
The 131-yard proposed setback is not great enough and the mortality guideline is higher than in most other North American jurisdictions, says Petrie. He adds wind turbine developers need to hire independent consultants.