Wildlife protection group opposes wind farm expansion
'It's going to be probably the largest game changer in this area of Prince Edward Island'
The Souris and Area Wildlife Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation is sounding the alarm on the proposed expansion of the wind farm in Eastern Kings.
The P.E.I. Energy Corporation wants to add seven new turbines to the 10 currently in place, which would double the electricity output of the farm. The turbines would be larger than the current ones, and that's something that worries the group.
"These are going to be phenomenal in size. It's going to be probably the largest game changer in this area of Prince Edward Island," said Fred Cheverie, watershed coordinator with the group.
Cheverie said the proposal is for the turbines to go into one of the largest undisturbed forests in the province.
"We're going right down the middle of it in boggy, muggy wetland," he said.
"It's too bad that we have put a project of that magnitude in one of the most pristine areas left in Prince Edward Island."
'They definitely kill birds'
The environmental assessment for the project was presented at a public meeting Tuesday night, where it was revealed that four wetlands not mapped by the province were discovered. That's another reason to not go through with the expansion according Cheverie, who said in his professional opinion, the woods is the worst place for turbines.
He said the area is also of upmost importance to migratory birds because it provides a resting area when they arrive tired after a long journey.
"The birds come in totally licked in terms of energy," he said
"If a small bird comes in and hits it just like a bug hit your windshield. It's just like smutch. It's all gone, over. Bigger birds will just be thrown long distances away. They definitely kill birds."
Ways to mitigate risk
The project, if approved, would have to abide by an environment management plan, something the project coordinator said would involve ways to reduce risks to wetlands and the birds.
"With respect to wetlands, we will avoid them, obviously, at all costs and minimize impacts as much as we possibly can." said Spencer Long
Through the assessment process there has been bird and bat monitoring, including specialized radar technology, something that will continue throughout construction and after. That data could help to find solutions to help the birds even after the construction is complete, Long said.
"We're able to see specific flight patterns and directions and really trending how the birds are migrating through our development area as the migratory periods go on," he said.
"Once we have the total data in December for the October period we'll evaluate that."
Pausing turbines during very sensitive periods that could be an option, Long said.
The public has 30 days to submit any comments to the Department of Environment. After that the department will decide on approving the project. If approval is granted, clearing in the area could start as early as this winter.
Cheviere said his group will be submitting comments.