Tech & Science

Proposed N.S. wind farm could have deadly toll on migrating birds, expert says

Environmental researcher John Carney says rotor blades in a proposed 13-turbine wind farm in Nova Scotia could reduce greenhouse gases but pose too high a risk to migratory birds. increase.

A former consultant to the wind industry, the 74-year-old recently installed acoustic monitoring in southwestern Nova Scotia, recording species ranging from vocalizing black cockatoos to spotted sandpipers during autumn flights. I’m here.

“I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who supports both the objectives of wind power and biodiversity conservation, but here they are at odds,” he said in a recent interview with the proposed proposal. He said shortly after submitting documents to the state to oppose it. A project on the peninsula west of Yarmouth.

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“It’s clear to me that this wind farm will never happen.”

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Kearney holds a PhD in Environmental Anthropology, which includes the relationship between humans and nature. He came to his conclusion after finding that just south of the proposed Wedgeport wind farm, bird calls averaged 538 per hour after sunrise.

This is roughly equal to the intensity of Brier Island, New South Wales, located further west, which was recently cited as “one of the migratory hotspots of northeastern North America” ​​in the proceedings of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science, he said. say.

John Carney, a former wind consultant who now uses acoustics to monitor bird populations, works at one of his stations in Nova Scotia in a handout photo. The 74-year-old environmental anthropologist opposes the development of winds in southwestern Nova Scotia, saying they pose a significant risk to herd migration. Wedgeport His Wind His Farm supporters disagree, saying Blade does not threaten population decline and will help the state meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Danielle Horne **Mandatory Credit**

For Kearney, rejecting the project would help preserve bird calls, but industry advocates say there is limited evidence that the proposed coastal location threatens bird populations. argues against.

Daniel Eaton, project director of Vancouver-based Elementary Energy, said in an email that the company and its partners Stevens Wind and Sipekne’katik First Nation have met the Nova Scotia government’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 53%. pointed out that it corresponds to Emissions by 2023.

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Eaton said 2025 is the first year of potential operation and the project is expected to offset 112,750 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is roughly equivalent to the annual production of 25,000 gasoline cars.

“We agree that southwestern Nova Scotia has a wide variety of habitats that are important to migratory birds, and the work Mr Kearney has done to gather information on migratory bird activity in many locations in southwestern Nova Scotia. I am grateful to you,” Eaton wrote on Monday.

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However, he added, he “supports the work done by the consultants, including the work to estimate potential bird mortality associated with our project.”

The company’s submission in the environmental review claims that the impact of the turbines on birds is “not significant” once “standard industry mitigation measures” are in place.

Independent field surveys identified 100 species of birds and approximately 16,000 birds in and around the project area. The proponents, citing a model he developed in 2016 from the Scottish Natural Heritage, an environmental advisory body, predict that the project will cause about 36 bird deaths per year.

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Kearney is critical of the model and asks proponents to study wind turbines operating near the site to obtain mortality rates occurring along the windy and foggy Nova Scotia coast. And I’m wondering why theoretical data are used.

And he goes back to the acoustic data, which he says provides compelling comparative evidence that the proposed farm is in the middle of a moving corridor.

The Nova Scotia Ornithological Society has also opposed the wind farm, and its members said they saw birds passing in droves overhead, “feeding on barren fruit and trapping tree insects.” Stated.

“We have a direct understanding of the interrelationships between terrestrial and marine habitats that lead to species richness,” wrote Anthony Millard, president of the association.

State Environment Agency spokeswoman Mikaela Echgarry said Minister Tim Hullman would “consider the facts, science, and comments from the public and Mi’kmaq” and make a decision by May 4. .

Scott Leslie, naturalist and author of Birds of North America’s Woods, urges Progressive Conservative governments to take Carney seriously.

“He was one of the pioneers in Nova Scotia using the latest bioacoustic listening technology. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to check,” he wrote in an email.

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This report by the Canadian Press was first published on April 19, 2023.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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