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Alberta conservationists say solar project threatens pronghorn antelope habitat

A conservation group is calling on the Alberta government to put a stop to a solar farm being built near Medicine Hat.

The Aira Solar Project was given approval by the Alberta Utilities Commission last week.

The 1,800 hectare project will include more than a million solar panels southwest of Medicine Hat.

But the Alberta Wilderness Association says the area is an important international migratory corridor for pronghorn antelope.

The association says the animals rely on migration to survive and are calling on the province to pause the project.

“We would like to see accumulative effect assessment that is looking at how these individual projects are impacting pronghorn migration and environmental impacts in general,” said Ruiping Luo, a conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association.

“And we’d like to see a pause on development until then because we are starting to fear that each development is just restricting that path further and we don’t know which development might end up just cutting it all off altogether.”

In response to those concerns, Horizon New Energy said, “We diligently assess the potential environmental impacts of a project and develop environmental plans to minimize short and long term impacts.”

It goes on to say that the province and utilities commission has determined that the project poses an overall low risk to wildlife and wildlife habitat.

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