By Scott Nixon, Times-Advocate Staff
EXETER — In a motion passed last week, the board of directors of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) have thrown their support behind the concerns of anti-wind turbine protesters.
A group of between 20 and 30 protesters filled the ABCA board room at Morrison Dam Oct. 18 expressing their concerns about wind developments in the area and requesting the board support a moratorium on wind development until further studies are done.
In a motion put forward by Bluewater representative Janisse Zimmerman, the board supported a “moratorium on further industrial wind development in the conservation authority’s watershed jurisdiction until such time as our natural environment is protected through independent and protective environment assessments.” Provincial officials and MPPs within the ABCA watershed will also be notified of the board’s decision.
Muriel Allingham of the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group told the Times-Advocate that wind development is “drastic” to wildlife and the bird and bat studies the wind companies do are not comprehensive.
She expressed concern that power lines will cut through the area and bio-diverstiy in wildlife and habitat will be lost as a result from wind projects.
Allingham noted the region is a migratory area for tundra swans.
To the board, she said, “Residents within the Ausable Bayfield watershed are gravely concerned over the effects that industrial wind development will have on migratory and nesting birds, the bat population, amphibian and aquatic life, mammal habitat and the preservation of the natural hydrological processes.”
Allingham noted concerns about the proximity of turbines to natural heritage features, the noise from turbines and the turbulence and disturbances to wind currents that turbines would create, “which directly impacts the ability for birds to migrate safely.”
She said, “post-construction bird mortality assessments are conducted by the developers, and results are suspect in their accuracy.”
In addition to concerns about the turbines, Allingham also spoke of a planned transmission line that will cross the Ausable River. She said the line will “further deplete the forested area” and the construction of the wind projects will disrupt the environment.
Allingham’s supporters applauded at the end of her presentation to the board.
Zimmerman noted Bluewater has passed a motion supporting a moratorium on wind development until more studies are done.
ABCA general manager Tom Prout later told the T-A that the ABCA board’s motion was a show of support for the group’s concerns, but added that the province’s Green Energy Act dictates what the ABCA can do.