Last year, a group of property owners in the Collingwood area, decided to sue both the wind power developer (wpd, from Germany) and the landowners who, together, had put forward a proposal for a wind power generation project.
The landowners, led by a Mr and Mrs Wiggins, maintained that they had already suffered property value loss and that if the project was approved, those losses would continue and escalate. The Wiggins own an equestrian facility worth over $1.5 million and had listed it for sale; once the wind power project was announced, interest in the property evaporated.
The wind power developer asked the court to determine whether their action had any merit and asked for a summary judgement on the legal action.
Things didn’t go quite as planned.
Yes, the judge decided in her decision*, this is not the appropriate time to proceed with this action and it was denied. BUT, she said, if the project does receive approval from the government to proceed, THEN the plaintiffs were free to pursue their legal action.
While there was “no genuine issue for trial” at this time, she ruled, [Section 13], “It is possible however that they may be wronged by one or more of the defendants committing a tort in the future when and if the Fairview Wind Project is either given approval and/or constructed. [sic: it can’t be constructed without approval, but we digress] For that reason the claims are being dismissed without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ rights to advance the same and other claims in the future in relation to this venture. [Section 37]
The evidence showed, the judge said, that “they [the plaintiffs] have already suffered harm through loss in property values and the corresponding interference with the use and enjoyment of their properties.” [Section 9]
The judge also accepted evidence from Dr Robert McMurtry on the potential for negative health impacts.
What this means for the owners of properties neighbouring land where wind turbines have been proposed is that the minute a project is approved by the Ministry of the Environment, you can file a claim.
The leaseholders (i.e., people leasing land for turbines to a wind power developer) ought to be forewarned that claims will be filed in Ontario. In the North Gower-Richmond area, a conservative estimate of the property value loss within 3 km is $67 million. The wind power project is proposed by Germany-based Prowind for two area farms, Cornerview and Gowerdale. More than 300 homes are within 3 km of the project.
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* Superior Court of Justice-Ontario, Case CV-12-0344 Wiggins et al vs WPD Canada and Beattie Brothers Farms Ltd