A spokesperson for Northland Power, whose Grand Bend wind power project can now proceed following decision in an appeal, told a London Free Pressreporter that “One would think the people opposed would lose their appetite for this fight, but they haven’t yet.”
Indeed not. And 2015 will be more of the same as almost every wind power project in Ontario has been appealed, and several are headed for judicial review. Plus, countless private individuals have lodged or plan to take legal actions related to noise nuisance and property value loss.
The truth will stand, eventually.
Here’s a look back in pictures at the year that was.
This is a heavy duty week as Ontario communities fight back against the unwanted incursion of huge wind power generation facilities. As you know, the Green Energy Act removed local land-use planning powers for renewable power projects, so the environmental appeal process and ultimately the courts, along with a noise nuisance bylaw, is the only way communities can act to protect their residents.
(The new procurement process for large-scale renewable power projects still does not allow for a return of municipal planning powers; communities can have a say, as long as it’s not “no” and in fact, the regional energy plans are pre-designed by the province—in other words, if the province decides you’re getting a wind “farm” then you are. But we digress…)
Manvers/Pontypool: last few days of the appeal of the Sumac Ridge wind power project, part of which is on the Oak Ridges Moraine, a fragile and (formerly) protected environment. The Green Energy Act over-rode the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act, along with 20 other pieces of legislation.) The City of Kawartha Lakes is involved.
Plympton-Wyoming: again, the municipality is involved with the appeal of the Suncor Cedar Point wind power generation project. Today, the Environmental Review Tribunal hears a motion for a stay of proceedings, until experts can review the raw data from the Health Canada Wind Turbine Noise and Health study. (No report or article has yet been published from this study; there is only a brief summary and PowerPoint presentation.) The Health Canada study showed that 16.5% of people living within 2 km of a wind turbine were experiencing distress.
Niagara Region: Mothers Against Wind Turbines is a appealing the 77, 3-megawatt turbine Niagara Region wind power project, which will affect over 4,000 homes. Preliminary hearing is tomorrow in Wellandport.
Other appeals have been filed and several judicial reviews are in various stages, as well as private legal actions on property value loss and nuisance. Decisions are expected on the Ostrander Point appeal (lawyer Eric Gillespie), and the Drennan/Dixon appeal (the Constitutional challenge, lawyer Julian Falconer).
Ottawa Wind Concerns has retained a legal firm and is prepared to enact legal actions should another proposal come forward for a wind power project.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Donations welcome at PO Box 3, North Gower K0A 2T0
Jonathan Sher, London Free Press, November 20, 2014
A judicial fight over the future of wind turbines in Ontario wrapped up Thursday with the fate of the province’s green energy law in the hands of judges.
On one side is big money, wind energy giants like Samsung and a Liberal government intent on becoming a world leader in creating green energy.
On the other are four families in Huron and Bruce counties whose homes are close to dozens of proposed turbines.
But while it seems a David and Goliath affair, the underdogs have enlisted a legal pugilist who Thursday seemed to dance circles around the arguments of his adversaries, wrapping up a four-day hearing in London with an emotionally-loaded challenge to three Superior Court justices.
“The system has utterly broken down,” said Julian Falconer. “You have been tasked with keeping these people safe.”
Falconer was the most dynamic of lawyers representing four families in Southwestern Ontario battling the building of wind farms.
It’s not the first time lawyers have challenged the Green Energy Act in court. Three years ago, wind opponents lost in court fighting a decision by an environmental review tribunal to allow a wind farm. But the 2011 effort had a handicap this one does not — it was a judicial review, in which judges must give deference to the tribunal.
This time, Falconer wants the three-judge panel to:
Halt, by issuing what’s called a stay, wind farms that are expected to be tested in January.
Rule the environmental tribunal violated the constitutional rights of wind opponents when it refused to allow new evidence from a Health Canada study.
Allow wind opponents to stop wind farms by showing they might be seriously harmed rather than proving they had been harmed.
The judges expect to issue a decision on the stay soon, and while they didn’t specify a date, it’s likely they’ll act by January.
Environmental review tribunals shield their eyes to contrary evidence, Falconer said.
“They keep the blinders on. They’re not interested in new information. They’re interested in getting the turbines up,” he said.
But lawyers for the government and wind companies disagreed, one arguing the Health Canada study only showed a link between turbines and annoyance and the early results hadn’t yet been peer-reviewed.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Darryl Cruz, who represents St. Columban Energy.
The decision by the environmental tribunal was correct and wind companies should be allowed to complete their wind farms, he said.
That’s a position one Niagara wind opponent has been fighting for about four years, moving from her Welland home to keep away from planned turbines.
“It’s just wrong,” Catherine Mitchell said.
Wind opponents say turbines cause dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations and other illness.
The government says that’s wrong and that neighbours are protected because turbines are placed at least 550 metres from homes.
Ontario has more than 6,000 wind turbines built, planned or proposed, mostly in the southwest. Turbines account for about 4% of Ontario’s power.
Garth Manning, QC, has written an article for the Sun media network, accusing Ontario and its poorly thought out Green Energy and Green Economy Act of violating the human rights of Ontario citizens. He quotes human rights lawyer Julian Falconer of Toronto, who refers to the growing body of research into the health effects from the noise and vibration produced by the wind power generation projects.
The Ontario government heard from plenty of experts who warned them against the downside of rushing into wind power, Manning says, but they didn’t want to hear it.
Today, citizens are left with the option of using their after-tax dollars to take legal action, which they are doing, both at appeals of wind power project approvals by the government, and in private legal actions. Municipalities remain without local land use planning control, which was removed the by the act.*
*Last week, Ottawa City Council acknowledged a petition signed by North Gower area residents declaring themselves Not A Willing Host to a proposed wind power project, and passed a motion asking the province for a more substantive role in siting wind power plants.