Ostrander Point wind farm objections appear reasonable

Last update: August 6, 2014
In Ontario, there is one specific wind farm siting discussion I’ve been engaged in over the past couple of days, that of the nine turbine Ostrander Point wind farm.  Based on the testimony that I’ve seen, specific concerns for wildlife and habitat for that specific wind farm appear reasonable and there is a strong case for significant mitigations or outright rejection of that one wind farm. Most of the testimony was referenced from http://ccsage.wordpress.com, but I also gathered evidence from Diane Saxe’s excellent site Envirolaw at this link http://envirolaw.com/ostrander-point-wind-birds/.
Update: I was challenged by one Henri Garand, Prince Edward County anti-wind campaigner at large, to donate to the Ostrander Point campaign if I agreed it was inappropriately sited.  Read my response at the end, where I offer a little quid pro quo.
Update 2: The Ostrander Point wind farm was rejected due to the Blandings Turtle. Human health risks, bird impacts and all other issues were rejected by the court as being without substance.
Update 3: Upon appeal to the Superior Division Court of Ontario, Ostrander Point GP Inc. and another v. Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and another, the finding of serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s Turtle was set aside (and the other findings upheld).
Update 4: Partial costs of $53,000 have been awarded to Ostrander Point GP Inc. The two organizations which brought the appeal have to come up with more money, which is becoming a trend. Hopefully this will dampen Ontario anti-wind organizations enthusiasm for frivolous lawsuits.

This was a useful discussion and the part of the wind farm opposition focussed on the wildlife and habitat concerns was productive and useful.

The environmental and wildlife bar for rejection of wind farms should reasonably be very high given that the alternative is the very well known negative impacts of fossil fuels.  Concerns surrounding this site appear to meet that high standard.

My complete comments and links to the discussion thread are below. I commend Suzanne Lucas for providing references and specific verifiable experts to support her arguments. For those wishing to see the entire discussion including the much less useful comments of many of the regular anti-wind campaigners, please see this: http://countylive.ca/blog/?p=35966.

Note that this was specifically and solely related to the nine wind turbines in this specific site , not the larger anti-wind turbine campaign under way in the greater Prince Edward County from the same group which references completely debunked arguments of human health impacts, property value impacts and local economy impacts.

Findings of the Superior Court, quoted here extensively, are very useful for determining how ERTs must assess evidence and siting approvals:

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.47.44 AM Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.47.55 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.48.12 AMScreen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.48.41 AM  Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.49.15 AM Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.50.11 AMScreen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.50.41 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.50.56 AMScreen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.51.58 AMScreen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.52.10 AM


@Ms. Lucas. Thank you for providing referenced individuals and a link. This allows a useful assessment of the actual risk.

For context, I debated with Margaret Atwood and many of the usual suspects on Ms. Atwood’s blog the potential placement of a wind farm off of Point Pelee in Eastern Lake Erie a few years ago. In that case, I agreed after analysis that the offshore wind farm would have been inappropriately sited due to the specific birds and the specific siting.

I would point out that “industrial wind turbine” was created and spread by the Koch Brothers, who focus-grouped it and started promoting it about a decade ago. As you know, the Koch Brothers, the Heartland Institute and the Cato Institute are fossil-fuel funded deniers of global warming and the polluting effects of fossil fuels. I would suggest that if you would like to continue to have useful discussions about specific siting concerns for Ostrander Point with actual data that you drop that phrase from your vocabulary.

I’m sure that you’ll agree that wind energy has a strong role to play in reducing global warming and the negative impacts of pollution and habitat destruction from fossil fuel generation. These are serious impacts on overall bird populations and put species at risk. As such, the question has to be for specific wind farms, do they put endangered or at risk species at further risk, or are they likely to tip bird species at the verge of being at risk into an at risk status. Anything below that standard is insufficient to warrant significant changes to wind farm placement.

PECFN’s expert witness, Bill Evans, stated on the stand and under oath on April 8:
“The project would not affect migratory birds at the population level, but it would affect local populations of breeding birds.” This statement by the expert clearly does not meet that standard.

Another expert witness for the complainants, Ted Cheskey, stated that there was insufficient evidence to say if there would be an impact on April 5 and then invoked the Precautionary Principle. Once again, no specific species at risk or endangered, just a concern.

Given the very well known impacts of fossil fuel generation and global warming, this is insufficient.

Dr. Frederic Beaudry’s testimony on the Blandings Turtles is much more compelling. It is an endangered specie, and his concerns about mitigations being potentially ineffective are reasonable and of concern. I’d be very supportive of more stringent mitigations and re-siting of specific turbines to prevent impacts here. I’d be interested in more discussion about his assertion that the only successful approach being prevention of all access roads, but he may very well be right and if so, this puts very significant and reasonable limits on the Ostrander Point proposed wind farm. This is a useful discussion that can be had around a specific impact.

Similarly, Dr. Paul Catling’s testimony about the danger to the alvar vegetation is compelling and on point. This too is a reasonable discussion about a specific point.

Dr. Robert Barclay’s testimony on bats wasn’t as compelling, but he still made a very good point about two species of Ontario bats being at risk due to white nose syndrome, although I’ve been unable to confirm in a the time I’ve spent on this that these specific bats migrate through Ostrander Point.

That all said, the most compelling argument appears to be the following list from Diane Saxe’s EnviroLaw blog on the Ostrander Point project. (http://envirolaw.com/ostrander-point-wind-birds/)

Species At Risk at Ostrander Point

14 priority species listed by Ontario Partners in Flight 2008 breed at Ostrander Point.

Northern Harrier, Whip-poor-will (End), Black-billed Cuckoo, Northern Flicker, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Field Sparrow. Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Meadowlark (Thr), and Baltimore Oriole.

19 Species At Risk found at Ostrander Point including Blanding’s Turtle (Threatened), Common Musk Turtle (Threatened), Milksnake (special concern), Monarch Butterfly (special concern), Whip-poor-will (Threatened), King Rail (Endangered), Least Bittern (Threatened), Black Tern (special concern), Short-eared Owl (special concern), Golden Eagle (Endangered), Bald Eagle (Endangered), Peregrine Falcon (Threatened), Red-headed Woodpecker (special concern), Loggerhead Shrike (Endangered), Golden-winged Warbler (special concern), Yellow-breasted Chat (special concern), Henslow’s Sparrow (Endangered), Rusty Blackbird (Provincial Status ratings)

With this information, it’s very reasonable to say that siting a wind farm at this location is inappropriate.

Note that this discussion starts from facts about a specific location, not hysterical arm-waving about wind energy in general.

Ms. Lucas, thank you for providing the reference points to allow this to occur. As you point out, I’m not local to Ostrander Point. In fact, when debating Ms. Atwood, I was living in Vancouver, then moved to Toronto for a couple of years, then Sao Paulo and am now in Singapore. I understand very clearly the negative global impacts of fossil fuel generation and global warming on our shared environment, and I understand very clearly the value that wind energy brings in reducing fossil fuel’s negative impacts.

Fighting wind farm siting has to be specific, accurate and fact-based in order to overcome the demand for change that we are facing. Ostrander Point meets those criteria.


Henri Garand says:

@Mike Barnard

If you’re now persuaded that Ostrander Point isn’t suitable for wind turbines, why not help us to defend it?

Make a donation at http://www.saveostranderpoint.org.

@Henri: I am willing to donate $100 CAD specifically to the Ostrander Point campaign you pointed out, but living in Singapore as I do now prevents Paypal from accepting any of my Canadian or Singapore credit cards. There’s a way to do it, but if I’m going to go through the rigamarole, how about a little quid pro quo?

If I donate $100, you do the following things which won’t cost you a penny:
– eliminate the fossil-fuel, Koch Brothers focus-grouped term “Industrial Wind Turbines” and variants from your communications, your website and your report.
– eliminate all references to disproven medical health impacts from your website and communications.
– eliminate all references to disproven impacts of infrasound from your website and communications.
– eliminate all fully disproven negative economic impact scares from your website.

Good deal?

For evidence of the degree of the inaccuracies you promote and that you are actually causing the problems you pretend to be fighting, please see this material:

Wind farms don’t harm human health, anti-wind campaigners do. 17 major reviews world wide of all of the available research by credible, independent groups have cleared wind farms of health impacts. Meanwhile, studies in the UK, Australia and New Zealand point the finger at anti-wind lobbyists spreading health fears and jacking up stress. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/wind-farms-dont-make-people-sick-so-why-the-complaints/

Infrasound produced by wind farms is harmless; humans evolved with infrasound and wind farms produce less than waves on a beach, yet beach front property is in major demand.http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/humans-evolved-with-infrasound-is-there-any-truth-to-health-concerns-about-it/

Wind farms don’t harm property values: five major studies in the US and UK of 46,000 property transactions confirm this. As with health complaints, anti-wind campaigners whipping up fears are responsible for minor lulls before wind farms become operational, with properties often accruing value faster near operational wind farms. This makes sense: more jobs and more tax-revenue funded services make wind farm regions more attractive to people. http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/property-values-evidence-is-that-if-wind-farms-do-impact-them-its-positively/

Wind farms bring in so much revenue to the local community that towns are eliminating property taxes. http://vtdigger.org/2013/03/08/in-northeast-kingdom-wind-power-brings-in-tax-cuts-and-rising-legal-fees/

What do you say, Henri? I commit funds to the part of your local opposition that makes sense and you drop all of the fear-mongering BS for the larger area and stick solely to the truth and specific siting concerns for specific wind farms?

Seems like a fair trade to me.


After posting a rebuttal in which his primary reference was a fossil-fuel funded global warming denial site and being called on it, Mr. Garand decided to stop responding to me.

Be nice, be respectful, be relevant.

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