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Residents near eastern P.E.I. windmill site concerned about endangered birds and bats: Greens

Green MLA Lynne Lund speaks with PC MLA Brad Trivers, right, prior to a legislature session earlier this week. Looking on at left is Liberal MLA Robert Mitchell.
Green MLA Lynne Lund speaks with PC MLA Brad Trivers, right, prior to a legislature session earlier in 2019. Lund raised several concerns about a wind farm expansion in Eastern Kings during question period on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Looking on at left is Liberal MLA Robert Mitchell. - SaltWire file photo
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Green MLA Lynne Lund raised several concerns about a wind farm expansion in Eastern Kings during question period on Wednesday.

The expansion of the farm from 10 windmills to 17 has caused concern from local residents, who say the expansion could threaten local bird species. Lund raised several of these concerns during question period and referred to a recently completed environmental assessment of the project.

"The assessment, which is currently subject to public review and comment, identified some concerning potential impacts," Lund said.

"Eight endangered bird and bat species are in the area, as are four previously unmapped wetlands."

Lund noted the project must be approved by the department of Environment, Water and Climate Change before it can proceed.

"Have you already given assurances that this project will go ahead at the proposed site," Lund asked Environment Minister Brad Trivers.

In response, Trivers said there would be a 30-day period for public comments.

Environment Minister Brad Trivers.
Environment Minister Brad Trivers.

"The environmental assessment review is an opportunity for the P.E.I. Energy Corp. to present their proposal to the public,” Trivers said.

"We're going to do what we always do in my department. We're going to make the recommendation based on the facts."

In an interview, Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Steven Myers said his department would be following through with the regulatory steps before the construction begins.

Myers said comments he made in a recent interview were misinterpreted. A story from late September quoted Myers as saying, "I don't want to leave it in the air that there's a possibility that we're not going there."

Myers said he meant to suggest that there was no question of the wind farms expansion occurring elsewhere other than Eastern Kings.

"What I said – what my intentions were that there was a lot in the air that 'maybe it's here or maybe there's other locations,’" Myers said.

Myers said he would be following the regulatory steps for the project.

"We are going through the steps and provided that we pass them, that's where they're going to be. We're not looking anywhere else," Myers said.

He also said the project was crucial for providing clean energy for Islanders. 

"We're trying to bring clean energy to Islanders, and I would expect that a party that speaks of green principles would also support bringing wind energy to P.E.I.,” Myers said.

Lund said the regulatory process was being followed by government. But she said the regulations did not take into account carbon emissions that may be released.

"We know that wetlands, for example, absorb carbon more readily than trees do in a lot of circumstances. And we know that old growth forests absorb than these brand new trees that we're putting in for carbon capture," Lund said.

"So it's counter-intuitive to clear out those important climate features for a project that's supposed to be good for climate change."

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