Friday, November 5, 2010

Ontario - Birds and Bird Habitats: Updated Guidelines for Wind Power Projects

The Green Energy Act 2009 (GEA) places a priority on expanding Ontario’s use of clean and renewable sources of energy, including wind power. A key element of the GEA is a new integrated approval process that establishes clear up-front requirements for most renewable energy projects. These requirements are outlined under the Ministry of the Environment’s (MOE) Renewable Energy Approval (REA) regulation (O.Reg. 359/09) and the Ministry of Natural Resource’s (MNR) Approval and Permitting Requirements Document (APRD).

The REA regulation describes the requirements for wind power projects related to significant natural features, including significant wildlife habitat. Birds are an important part of Ontario’s biodiversity. To provide further clarity and certainty on the renewable energy approval requirements for wind power, MNR has prepared updated Guidelines for application to both Crown and private lands.

The Guidelines address the new requirements of the REA regulation, incorporate new North American science and information and provide guidance on identifying and addressing potential negative effects on birds and bird habitats during the planning, construction and operation of wind power projects by:
focusing pre-construction monitoring on identification and evaluation of bird habitats to consider potential impacts of wind power development on birds and bird habitats;
identifying methods for evaluating the significance of candidate bird significant wildlife habitat and adopting a habitat setback approach, with assessment and monitoring based on proximity to significant habitat;

establishing of post construction bird mortality monitoring requirements for all onshore wind power projects, via an environmental effects monitoring plan; and

establishing a requirement for an additional two years of scoped monitoring when a threshold of bird mortality exceeds:

• 18 birds/ turbine/year;

• 0.2 raptors/turbine/year (all raptors);

• 0.1 raptors/turbine/year (raptors of provincial conservation concern); or

• 2 raptors/windpower project (<10 turbines).
This proposal has been posted for a 45 day public review and comment period starting November 05, 2010. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, please do so by December 20, 2010 to the individual listed under "Contact". Additionally, you may submit your comments on-line.

All comments received prior to December 20, 2010 will be considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry of Natural Resources if they are submitted in writing or electronically using the form provided in this notice and reference EBR Registry number 011-0112.

All comments on this proposal must be directed to:

Kathleen Pitt
Program Officer
Ministry of Natural Resources
Policy Division
Renewable Energy Program
300 Water Street
Floor 5
Robinson Place South Tower
Peterborough Ontario
K9J 8M5
Phone: (705) 755-5321
Fax: (705) 755-1206