The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Turbines move for the birds
March 24th, 2006 02:29 PM AST
CBC News

P.E.I. birdwatchers are celebrating a victory. The provincial government has agreed to move several wind turbines away from East Point.

The birders had argued the proposed 30 megawatt wind farm put thousands of migrating birds in jeopardy. In particular, the birders were concerned about a stretch of woods along the Lighthouse Road leading to East Point. It is considered a treasure trove for P.E.I. birdwatchers.

But like North Cape, already the site of a successful windfarm, it's very windy on this strip of land reaching out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

To investigate the birders' concern, the P.E.I. government commissioned an independent group called Bird Studies Canada to study birds in this area. In its interim report, the group suggests turbines be banned from East Point.

An aerial photograph showing the area of concern for possible bird mortality

The government has agreed to move six of the 10 turbines to the west of East Lake. Bird watcher Dan Kennedy says it's a major victory.

"Hopefully it's going to save a lot of lives," says Kennedy.

"We hope that we're going to have very low mortality with this."

Ron Estabrooks, an energy advisor with the P.E.I. government, says the government will continue to study the birds in the area of concern, and he doesn't rule out future development closer to East Point.

"I mean this project is a green project. And we want to make sure it unfolds like that," says Estabrooks.

"There's no intent on our part to build a project that gives emission-free electricity and at the same time is detrimental to bird populations."

Estabrooks says it was important that the wind farm proceed on schedule, even if it meant moving some turbines.

Good news for the birds, however, is bad news for local land owners. They could have earned as much as $10,000 per year per turbine.

GOVERNMENT OF P.E.I.: Environmental Assessment of the 30 MW East Point Wind Plant (568 kb .pdf)

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