The Ontario government failed to ask any doctors about how large wind turbines affect human health when it drafted rules for the devices, a lawyer for a wind power skeptic told divisional court Monday.
But a lawyer for the province said the government used guidelines set by the World Health Organization, as well as other expert advice, in setting rules for how close large wind turbines can be to dwellings.
Ian Hanna, a resident of Prince Edward County, has asked the court to set aside the current rule stating that large turbines must be set back at least 550 metres from a home.
He’s arguing that the 550 metre setback isn’t based on any proven scientific evidence.
If Hanna succeeds and the policy is overturned the ruling could put further wind power development in Ontario on hold.
It would also put a crimp in Ontario’s just-announced long-term energy plan, which forsees a significant expansion of wind-generated electricity.
Hanna’s lawyer Eric Gillespie Monday told the panel of three judges that the province failed to get expert medical advice when it made the setback regulation.
It consulted acoustic engineers, he said. It consulted an expert in land use planning. It enlisted senior staff from the ministry of energy.
The province also collected many studies on the health effects of turbines, he said. But it did not seek out a doctor to review those studies on human health.
“It is not enough for a land use planner to say in a sentence and a half in an affidavit: We considered it,” said Hanna.
He likened the government’s approach to asking an accountant to give an expert opinion on medical evidence.
Gillespie submitted affidavits from three doctors who said the effect of noise and vibration from large wind turbines isn’t fully understood.
One, Dr. Robert McMurtry, is also a resident of Prince Edward County and a former dean of medicine at University of Western Ontario.
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