Thank you for posting that heads up and link.
I don't know what criteria sites have to meet to be viable sites for wind energy projects but if it is true that there can be too much wind to be good for such projects then it should be possible for the government to predetermine by sound arguement areas that meet that threshold and not beyond among other criteria. I don't know if that has been done but if not it would be helpful to know what those threshold criteria for the industry are and to see them mapped. Perhaps they already are. Personally I don't have the time right now to find out so I will go ahead and make speculative comments which if I am lucky are already covered.
Among the "other criteria" to be assessed in limiting the area available for development consideration are as you suggest Brendan:
- considerations of known ecological importance (e.g. bird and caribou migration corridors, foraging and breeding habitats)
- ecological value of an area based on it's adjacency to:
- existing protected areas and/or other large areas of intact landscape
- landscape that provides important connectivity to other larger or different habitat
It is important to acknowledge that we do not understand landscape ecology well enough to know the full implications of our choices. The Precautionary Principle may provide helpful guidance.
Public discourse is served well by aiming for :
- Honesty and clarity in the selection of our criteria and decision making process
As a bottom line for acceptable landscape planning choices, it is entirely reasonable to challenge the planning process to focus on identifying sites which will meet the needs of projects with minimal disruption to the landscape (e.g. require the minimum installation of access points and routes both to the project sites and for transmitting power from the sites).
And this BEFORE allowing preventable investment on the part of the industry with which they can hogtie government and the public later.
The development of oil and gas off our shores is a good example of how not to offer up our Landscape for bidding. Our model with offshore oil and gas land rights acquisition has been to ask the industry to identify where they'd like to go, put their choices up for bid, require them to invest Capital and then after accepting the winning bid's committment to spend money only later do we have the environmental assessment when the Proponent knows what they want to do. At that point, the perception and cultural values more or less insure that the project is a given already - cart before the horse approach.
Lots to think about and it will all happen too fast for most of us so with any luck defining simple bottom lines upfront increases chance of meaningful participation.