High Bird Counts Near Proposed Power Line

During the recent Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) hearing on the proposed double circuit 500kV Heartland power line, numerous interveners provided expert evidence on the anticipated impacts of an above ground Heartland line on bird deaths. For example, based on power line bird mortality data from the U.S. and the Netherlands,  RETA’s Direct Environmental Impact Evidence estimated that between 8,200 and 14,100 birds may be killed annually colliding with an overhead Heartland line along AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s preferred route.

Throughout the AUC hearing, the applicants’ environmental consultants (Stantec Consulting Ltd.) referred to the wetlands and wetland complexes along their preferred route as “lower quality”, “not particularly important” and of “relatively low value to wildlife”. RETA, Strathcona County and the Sherwood Park Fish and Game Association challenged this erroneous habitat characterization by Stantec, pointing out the high numbers of birds along this route in normal water-level years.

Unlike the very biased low bird counts obtained by Stantec and included in their hearing evidence, they might be well advised to have conducted bird surveys this Fall. For example, RETA biologists have conducted daily bird surveys of the Bretona Pond wetland complex along and under the proposed Heartland line, and have counted anywhere from 500 to 2,300 waterbirds daily just before sunset. It is hard to believe how any professional biologists (Stantec) could characterize habitat with such high bird counts as “not particularly important”.

This is just one of many examples of the very biased environmental impact information presented by AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s consultants to the recent AUC hearing on the proposed Heartland line.

~ by RETA on September 20, 2011.

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