Activist question why wind companies surveyed Rock Glen

Rock Glen Conservation Area was one of nine properties the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority allowed representatives for NextEra to survey recently raising the ire of Middlesex Lambton Wind Concerns.
– Heather Wright Photo

Muriel Allingham is questioning why the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority would allow wind energy companies to survey sensitive areas such as Rock Glen Conservation Area.

Documents released by the authority released to Allingham, a member of Middlesex Lambton Wind Action, show a company called CanAcre, working for NextEra Energy on the Goshen and Jericho projects in Lambton and Middlesex, signed an agreement with the ABCA to have access to conservation land for field studies. Rock Glen Conservation Area in Arkona was among the nine tracts of land surveyed.

Conservation Authority General Manager Tom Proutt says the agreements were signed two-years ago, before there was wide-spread concern for the project. He says the company offered to survey the land and do an inventory of the plants and wildlife.

“The agreements that wind energy companies had asked us for were part of their environmental studies they were doing,” says Proutt. “They were looking at our properties in terms of what was there and that was information that we would find useful because we don’t have the time or money to inventory our lands.”

But Allingham says the conservation authority should have known the companies were looking to use the lands – a use she says would not be appropriate.

“Conservation lands are just that and it (wind energy projects) displaces wildlife and their mandate is to protect land and wildlife.

“If you’re putting 400 square feet of concrete in the ground you’re affecting the water shed. It’s not conservation.”

Allingham believes NextEra was looking for a route for its transmission towers over the Ausable River. That, she says, will cut a 100 meter swath through valuable lands. “That would mean cutting the trees, desecrating the watershed and using herbicides and pesticides to control the growth,” says Allingham who lives next door to Rock Glen. “It would mean the increase in invasive species; it would mean a great deal of habitat would be destroyed.

“It doesn’t make sense that they allowed them on the land.”

Proutt says when the agreement with CanAcre was signed, there was nothing committing the authority to be part of any project and he says the agreement expires at the end of May.

There are no other agreements in place now.

Proutt says any item which deals with wind energy goes to the ABCA board of directors. In October, the board placed a moratorium on any wind energy activities on conservation lands.

– Heather Wright