Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bats, Wind Turbines and the Provincial Election

An article I read on wind turbines last week says a significant number of bats are falling victim to turbine blades every night.

The article can be found in the online version of the Green Bay Press Gazette. (

Research shows about 50 bats are killed annually by each wind turbine. (Another piece of research referenced in the article comes up with a similar number.) The bats don’t actually hit the blades but rather perish because air in low-pressure areas near the tips of the blades ruptures their lungs and causes internal hemorrhaging.

Who cares about bats one might ask?

We all should.

For one reason insect–eating bats save the agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year according to said Tom Kunz, an ecology professor at Boston University and co-author of the study.

I’m not aware of similar research here in Ontario but I can tell you that the issue of where wind turbines should be permitted will figure in the Ontario provincial election campaign later this year. Will someone be standing up for bats?

A group called Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) is in the midst of a tour of the province. Their mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of the people of Ontario from industrial wind turbines. (Their website makes mention of bats too.) WCO claims to comprise 57 grassroots citizens groups across 34 counties/districts in the province.

When the McGuinty Government brought in the Green Energy and Green Economy Act it seemed like a good idea that ultimate control for approvals of wind turbines was taken away from municipalities. At the time the Premier claimed that local governments were using by-laws and regulations to delay or stop proposed renewable energy projects. The municipal level of government may be the most responsive but it is also the most susceptible to NIMBY.

To stop a wind turbine now, rather than appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board, you must go to the Environmental Review Tribunal. Serious harm to human health or serious and irreversible harm to plant, life, animal life or the natural environment are grounds for appeals.

While human health concerns have yet to be attributed to wind turbines the bat research points to the need for politicians and scientists to come together and come out with solutions.

We need windpower.