The proposal to construct and operate a Wind Generation Facility has the potential to adversely affect Barn Owl as described in regulation. The proposed permit conditions would provide benefits that exceed the adverse effects on Barn Owl and their habitat.
Barn Owl is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List, in O. Reg. 230/08 of the ESA, as Endangered.
Subsection 9(1) of the ESA provides for the protection of endangered, threatened (and extirpated) species on the SARO List.
Habitat protection under the ESA applies to Barn Owl (subsection 10(1)). The specific habitat of Barn Owl has been prescribed by section 24.1 of O. Reg. 242/08.
The ESA allows some activities to proceed under a clause 17(2)(c) permit with specific conditions if: avoidance and reasonable alternatives have been considered; adverse effects will be minimized; and an overall benefit will be achieved for the species in Ontario. Providing an overall benefit to a protected species under the ESA involves undertaking actions to improve circumstances for the species in Ontario. Overall benefit is more than “no net loss” or an exchange of “like for like”. Overall benefit is grounded in the protection and recovery of the species at risk and must include more than mitigation measures or “replacing” what is lost.
The Minister may issue a permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA that authorizes a person to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by section 9 or 10 of the ESA if the Minister is of the opinion that:
(i) an overall benefit to the species will be achieved within a reasonable time through the conditions of the permit;
(ii) reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not negatively affect the species, and the best alternative has been adopted; and,
(iii) reasonable steps to minimize negative effects on individual members of the species are required by conditions of the permit.
The project was granted a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for the project on August 20, 2014. The REA for this project has been appealed to the Environmental Review Tribunal.
The proponent is seeking an overall benefit permit under clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA 2007 as portions of the project occurs within the regulated habitat of the Barn Owl.
Reasonable alternatives are being considered, including ones that would not adversely affect the species, and may include:
• Not proceeding with the project;
• Relocating all components of the project in Barn Owl regulated habitat to areas outside of Barn Owl regulated habitat;
• Relocating some components of the project in Barn Owl regulated habitat to areas outside of Barn Owl regulated habitat; and
• Construction of the project in the proposed location impacting 0.3 hectares of Barn Owl habitat with implementation of modifications to the project.
Potential approaches to minimize adverse effects on individual members of Barn may include:
• Staking the boundaries of areas to be cleared during construction to ensure areas to be protected will not be impacted;
• Restricting timing of construction, decommissioning and restoration activities to minimize impacting individuals;
• Restoring all temporary work areas to pre-impact conditions promptly after completion of construction activities;
• Prohibiting the use of pesticides or rodenticides during the construction or operation of the project;
• Limiting speed of travel on access roads and installing speed limit signage; and
• Having a qualified professional provide species at risk awareness training for on-site construction and operation personnel.
Potential approaches to achieve an overall benefit for Barn Owl may include:
• Creating 4.0 hectares of suitable Barn Owl foraging habitat and protecting the created habitat until project decommissioning;
• Creating a site suitable for Barn Owl nesting and roosting within the 4.0 hectares of created foraging habitat until project decommissioning;
• Completing surveys to assess Barn Owl presence in southwestern Ontario, primarily in Norfolk and Haldimand counties;
• Raising awareness of Barn Owl to landowners contacted for Barn Owl surveys by creating and distributing educational brochures; and
• Monitoring and reporting to MNRF on all habitat creation and management activities for a minimum of five years.
Please note that the posting of this proposal on the Environmental Registry does not imply that a permit will be approved; a permit may only be issued where the legal requirements set out in clause 17(2)(c) of the ESA have been satisfied.
The following web-links provide additional information.
MNRF’s Species at Risk website
Endangered Species Act, 2007
Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List, Ontario Regulation 230/08
General regulations and species-specific habitat regulations under the ESA, Ontario Regulation 242/08
Individuals who wish to view additional information on this overall benefit permit may visit MNRF’s ESA Authorization Tracker website, where information about this permit may be updated periodically.