Dr. Robert Barclay on Bats at the ERT hearing Thursday March 7

March 8, 2013 admin Latest Posts

Dr. Robert Barclay presented evidence about bats on video conference from Calgary to the ER Tribunal yesterday.  Myrna Wood was able to listen in on the telephone and sends the following report.


I think Robert did well with a clear and simple statement.   Sarah Kromkamp, lawyer for the MOE, asked him questions about his various studies which did not seem to lead anywhere at all.  Gilead’s lawyer (It was hard on the telephone to be sure whether it was Mr. Hamilton or Mr. Grey) tried to muddy the waters by raising questions about which bat species actually migrated.  This was in response to Dr. Barclay quoting Stantec’s figures on “unidentified” species.  Grey attempted to make him agree that many of those were really Brown Bats. The lawyer pointed out that the map Barclay had seen did not include the placement of the turbines. This allowed Robert to say that if they are on the shoreline it would be the most dangerous for the bats.  His Manitoba studies show the bats follow the shoreline to avoid flying over the lake. Three of Gilead’s turbines are proposed along the shoreline. Grey attempted to introduce a new document by email to Dr. Barclay in Calgary.  The document did not arrive and Mr. Gillespie stepped in to argue against introducing evidence in this fashion. Mr. Gillespie then asked Dr. Barclay several simple direct questions giving him the opportunity to clear up whether the types of species would have changed his conclusions.


Tribunal co-chair Heather Gibbs asked perceptive questions:  First she quoted Stantec’s report that there are no bat species at risk.  Dr. Barclay answered that was true when the report was written, but since then the emergence of white nose syndrome had caused the decline of two bat species resulting in an emergency posting as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO).  One of the bats listed, the Little Brown Bat, is one of the most common bats. To have it designated as Endangered is astonishing.


Second question: Dr Barclay had mentioned to the MOE lawyer he did not agree with Ontario Bat Guidelines for Industrial Wind Turbine projects (which they cut off immediately) so Ms. Gibbs asked him why?  He answered that the allowable threshold of killing 7 bats per year per turbine was inadequate.  With the numbers of turbines growing exponentially in North America, the cumulative effects of such a high fatality rate on top of the effects of white nose syndrome will cause harm to the species at the population level.  He also mentioned that with all the projects planned for the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the South Shore of Prince Edward County that the cumulative kill rate would be unacceptable.  He used the analogy of hunting regulations where a hunter is allowed a set number of ducks, but the number of hunters is also controlled.


Tribunal co-chair Robert Wright followed up on the cumulative effects and asked about acceptable kill rates in other jurisdictions.  Dr. Barclay said that the BC threshold is 7 bats per turbine per year.  In Hawaii it is 1 and in West Virginia it is 3 bats per turbine per year.  In many US states the threshold numbers are vague, or there are no numbers.  It was satisfying to hear the Tribunal really getting to the environmental effects of the turbines relative to bat mortality.


The hearing continues on March 18 and then on March 25-28.

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