Letter: White Pines of no benefit to birds, other animals

I am writing in response to the letter in last week’s letters column: “White Pines project offered environmental benefits”. I appreciate this opportunity to offer a diverging opinion. The whole premise of this letter is based on the absurd notion that the White Pines Project would have provided an overall benefit to threatened migratory bird species including eastern meadowlark, bobolink and whip-poor-will.

– It’s preposterous to suggest that this project would have benefitted birds in any way, when the ERT (Environmental Review Tribunal) has been perfectly clear about the significant risk posed by this project. In its’ final decision on the project, the “[T]he Tribunal reiterate(d) its finding and recommendations from the February 2016 order, at paragraphs 315-319, regarding the significant risk of serious harm to migrating birds posed by the project.”

– wpd ignored the ERT’s concerns about serious harm and its recommendations to curtail turbines during peak migration times each spring and fall, to undertake scientific studies to understand the impacts of migratory bird displacement from stopover areas, and to conduct weekly bird surveys during spring and fall migration periods at all turbines located in migratory landbird stopover areas. No measures were ever undertaken by wpd to address these recommendations.

– Stantec, wpd’s environmental consultant, failed to find any Whip-poor-will habitat north of Royal Road during site investigations, despite the known presence of numerous woodlands, wetlands and a major Migratory Landbird Staging and Stop-Over Area (MLSA) north of Royal Road. In light of Stantec’s 2010 finding that whip-poor-will were restricted to areas south of Royal Road, would any of the projects mentioned in this letter for whip-poor-will have even been implemented? Why would wpd go to the trouble of financing and maintaining a 41-hectare parcel for whip-poor-will over the next 20-plus years or provide funding for a research project when there was no longer any requirement to do so? In all likelihood the whip-poor-will projects were on the chopping block months ago, and had nothing to do with the project being cancelled.

– Turbine No. 9 (located on the letter writers’ property) and Turbine No. 10 are inside a MLSA and two other turbines (T06 and T08) are less than 100 m from the MLSA. What possible benefits could be derived from putting wind turbines in environmentally-sensitive locations like this?

– The letter writer points out that one of wpd’s projects was to fund a four-year research project and masters thesis to better understand the protection of the whip-poor-will. Dollars for donuts, any research project funded by a wind developer would have a self-serving purpose with predictable results. n How can anyone who heard the testimony of APPEC’s expert witness Dr. Shawn Smallwood, a recognized expert in pre- and post-construction monitoring at wind energy facilities, or that of Dr. Hutchins, a former director of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, believe a word in this letter?

In my opinion, a company that forgoes all common sense in putting turbines on a major migratory bird route, that can’t be relied on to provide accurate information on wildlife in the project area, that chooses to totally ignore ERT concerns and recommendations and that sees nothing wrong with selectively feeding misleading and self-serving factoids about the project to leaseholders and anyone else who will listen has no place here in the county.

Paula Peel