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Ontario’s off-shore wind turbine moratorium unresolved two years later

An Ontario moratorium on off-shore wind turbines for further study remains in place, two years after its imposition
John Spears — Toronto Star — February 15, 2013

Two years ago this month, with the 2011 election looming, the Ontario government imposed a moratorium on off-shore wind farms in the province to do “further scientific research.”

Which raises the question: The moratorium is still in effect; where’s the research? And did it give off-shore wind farms a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down?

The answers are murky and far from settled. The moratorium has triggered a $2.25 billion lawsuit from one wind power developer, and the issue remains a live one for the new Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Off-shore wind farms in the Great Lakes could be a prized asset, since winds over the lakes are often stronger and steadier than on land. But they bring fierce resistance — as a proposal to plant a string of turbines off the Scarborough Bluffs in 2008 showed.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has published three reports on the impact of off-shore wind farms since the moratorium began. One looked at the impact of turbines on coastlines, lakebeds, waves and other physical features.

Two others looked at the impact on fish and impact on fish

But the reports aren’t conclusive. The report on physical features, for example, outlines further research that might be needed.

One of the fish studies urges caution. “Owing to the lack of experience with offshore wind facilities in freshwater environments, the magnitude and significance of many of these potential effects to Great Lakes fish remain uncertain,” it says. It adds that there may be ways to reduce any impacts.

(To continue reading, click here)

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