PICTON – A Big Island’s man bid to have a portion of the province’s Green Energy Act struck down says the dismissal of the case by a divisional court is a setback, not a defeat.
The court ruled against Ian Hanna’s bid to strike the section of the act calling for a minimum 550 metre setbacks between turbines and residential homes. Hanna insists the setback is too short, citing claims of health effects.
After the act was established, Hanna and his supporters argued the 550 metre setback was determined without any established without a scientific or medical foundation.
The decision Thursday by the three-member panel was that the Minister of the Environment complied with the process mandated by Section 11 of the Environmental Bill of Rights.
In doing so the panel did not accept the Attorney General’s argument that the decision was not reviewable by the courts. Instead, the panel recognized that the decision could only be reviewed “if the Cabinet has failed to observe a condition precedent … or if the power is not exercised in accordance with the purpose of the legislation” and then proceeded to analyse the action of the Minister for compliance.
Hanna did not return calls for comment, but issued a statement saying he was disappointed with the ruling and concerned that it does not appear to address a central point raised by the application.
“This is not the outcome we had hoped for,” Hanna said. “Where is the evidence that the Minister of Environment consulted persons with medical expertise?”
Henri Garand, chairperson of Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), agreed and said there was vast amounts of information available when the GEA was written.
“One of the things misunderstood things with all of this, is the court never looked at any of the health related evidence,” he said. “The legislation is almost bullet proof – the (Ministry of Environment) had a lot of reports on health but the question is what did they do with these reports.”
Other wind turbine opponents were more vocal regarding the decision.
Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario said voters may have the final say in the fall.
“The panel of judges determined it was not up to them to determine the wisdom of the minister, which is a far cry from determining the Minister’s actions to be wise,” Laforet said.
In an e-mail to followers of Wind Concerns, Laforet was angry with the decision of the three judges.
“Today’s ruling is not what we had hoped for, it is certainly not a victory, but at the same time, it does not spell defeat as the court did not accept any of the challenges made by the government against expert witnesses, nor did they determine 550 metres was an acceptable distance,” he wrote in an e-mail obtained by QMI Agency.
“Go forward with your chin up and eyes forward, because we’re still well positioned to win our fight before the new year with other opportunities unfolding,” wrote Laforet.
Garand said APPEC members are hopeful that other proceedings may have better results. He said medical evidence dealing with Suncor Energy Inc.’s project was to be examined at the Chatham-Kent Environmental Review Tribunal in Toronto Friday.
“We are certainly hopeful an expert panel will be able to assess medical evidence there,” he said. “It is my understanding that it will be.”
There is a 15-day appeal period following Thursday’s decision on Hanna’s appeal.
“At this point we don’t know if there will be an appeal or not,” said Garand. “Our lawyer, Eric Gillespie, has done an outstanding job on this and he will be taking a close look at it. I know that when he decides to proceed with an appeal, he has had a 100 per cent success rate.”
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