A private citizen alleges the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has violated terms of the Environmental Protection ActMay 15, 2018
A resident of North Gower in the City of Ottawa is represented by lawyers in a Toronto court Thursday with a charge against Chris Ballard for violating a section of the Environmental Protection Act. Mr. Ballard is Ontario’s minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Using a little known legal option available to citizens known as a private prosecution, Jane Wilson has charged Mr. Ballard with “causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant, namely noise, into the natural environment that has caused, or may cause an adverse effect.”
“I am not taking this step lightly,” Wilson says, “this is very serious. But with thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines unresolved in Ontario, and more new power projects planned, I had no choice. He is responsible for allowing the noise to continue to be discharged into the environment.”
Wilson, a Registered Nurse, is president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 30 community groups and individuals and families concerned about the negative impacts of utility-scale wind power generation projects. She is also the chair of local community group, Ottawa Wind Concerns, which battled a wind power project proposed for North Gower. That project would have exposed hundreds of families to noise from wind power generators or turbines placed close to the rural village.
People forced to live near wind power projects are going without sleep for days, weeks, even months because of wind turbine noise, Wilson says. Documents provided to Wind Concerns Ontario under Freedom of Information show that the government has received more than 4,500 formal reports of excessive noise from wind turbines since 2006, but responds to about 7 percent of the complaints.
“Sleep disturbance has been confirmed as a link to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Wilson. “Staff notes in these reports contain reference to health impacts in about 35 percent of the complaints.”
“I am just trying to do whatever I can to get some help for these people.”
The MOECC just gave Renewable Energy Approval to a 100-megawatt project in North Stormont, south-east of Ottawa, despite environmental concerns about noise and impact on the “vulnerable aquifer” that serves 10,000 wells in the area.
The charge against Mr. Ballard was signed by a Justice of the Peace in Toronto and the first appearance in the matter is in Toronto, May 17 at 9 a.m. at the Toronto East provincial courthouse. Wilson will be represented by Andrew Chachula of environmental law firm Eric K. Gillespie, in Toronto.
Wind Concerns Ontario report on MOECC response to noise reports: Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL
References: Environmental Protection Act Section 14 (1) and (2)
Adverse effect definition EPA 1 (1)