A wind project proposed near a shorebird habitat in southwestern Saskatchewan will not go ahead, says the provincial government.
The province announced it had denied a 79-turbine wind project near Chaplin, Sask., on Monday morning in a news release.
The environment ministry said it received 137 responses during a public review period of Algonquin Power & Utilities' proposed wind farm in 2015. It said all but one of those responses supported wind energy, but expressed concern about this particular location.
"The location and the size of this project were the concerns that the public raised," said Environment Minister Scott Moe. "They were quite frankly the concerns that were raised through the scientific portion of the environmental assessment as well."
Environmentalists, such as Regina's Trevor Herriot, were worried about the hundreds of thousands of birds which fly through the area during migration.
"I'm so grateful we've been able to protect it." - Trevor Herriot, naturalist
"I drove right by it yesterday coming back from a canoe trip and it was just filled with birds," Herriot told CBC Radio's Blue Sky. "We're lucky to have it here and I'm so grateful we've been able to protect it."
They were also worried about the destruction of natural habitat to build the proposed 79 wind turbines.
The province has developed new guidelines for wind producers — so they know which areas of the province are too delicate for projects to be considered in the future.
It says there is a five kilometre buffer zone around environmentally-sensitive areas including national and provincial parks, ecological reserves, important bird areas and certain rivers.
Algonquin Power remains optimistic
A spokesman for Algonquin Power said the guidelines released today provide more clarity for potential wind farms.
"Saskatchewan's blessed with many good sites," said Jeff Norman, Algonquin's vice-president of business development.
He said Algonquin is eager to find a new location for its proposed 177 megawatt wind farm, and plans to amend its contract with SaskPower accordingly, Norman said a new site would be chosen for the wind farm over the next two months.
"I think it's important to point out the project did meet all the technical guidelines," said Norman.
Plenty of other locations suited to wind power
Herriot says the new site map still leaves plenty of space for wind turbines to go in the province.
"It's very true. We can have healthy ecology, we can have birds and we can have wind energy," Herriot said.
The government says it is still committed to its promise of generating half of its power from renewable energy by 2030.