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Ontario says OK for East Durham wind farm to kill at-risk fish

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Photo courtesy LSARC: devastation of landscape and erosion into streams from Northern Ontario wind farm construction

What’s a Redside Dace? Well, if you don’t know, don’t worry–it won’t matter for too much longer.

One of the principal points made by the Appellant in the recent appeal of the East Durham wind power project  by NextEra, was the damage that would be done by construction and the alteration of natural waterways. The prime witness testimony was:

[1]           He [Wren] also reviewed the 2004-2005 survey by Streams Ontario for the MNR.  In Dr. Wren’s opinion, the MOE “did not demonstrate due diligence in considering or evaluating sensitive fish and fish habitat in the project study area, with particular reference to the fish species Redside Dace”.

[2]           In Dr. Wren’s view, the sampling of the Saugeen River for Redside Dace was inadequate largely because too few samples were taken over too large an area.  It is his opinion that the MNR should have required the Approval Holder to conduct field investigations for Redside Dace in the Project Study Area to confirm their status.  He relied upon an email from the MNR to the Approval Holder’s ecologist which stated:

The absence of a species at risk occurrence does not mean that they are not present and as a result due diligence is still required … .  It should be noted that from a species at risk perspective this is an understudied area and as a result the MNR will be looking to ensure appropriate due diligence as it relates to field work was conducted to consider these species in further NHA reports for this site.

[3]           Dr. Wren’s opinion is that: “the Upper Saugeen Subwatershed contains an abundance of coldwater fisheries habitat that is unique in Southern Ontario.  Furthermore, the subwatershed is known to contain redside dace, an endangered species, which have a very specialized habitat.”

[4]           Dr. Wren also gave evidence about directional drilling and “fracking”, and soil erosion and sediment, and their likely effects on fish habitat and fish.  “Fracking” in this context is the accidental release of fluids toxic to fish that can occur during drilling to place transmission lines underground at water-crossings.  It is Dr. Wren’s view that a “frack out” could cause serious and irreversible harm to an endangered species such as the Redside Dace.

(Info on the Reside Dace here)

So, once again, the “overall benefit” of wind power supercedes damage to the environment, and to species of wildlife the Ontario government has already committed itself to protect? Ministry of the Environment lawyer Sylvia Davis, speaking in Toronto at the Ostrander Point appeal: “So a few animals get killed…”

The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is Glen Murray, whose ministry is supposed to “ensure healthy communities, ecological protection…”

Reposted from Wind Concerns Ontario