Ontario’s highest court has shut down an attempt by a wind turbine opponent to challenge the rule dictating how close turbines can be placed to dwellings.
Court of Appeal rejected on Tuesday the application by Ian Hanna for leave to appeal a lower court ruling, which said that the current regulation is valid.
That rule says that large wind turbines can be placed no closer than 550 metres from a dwelling.
Hanna’s lawyer Eric Gillespie had argued that the regulation wasn’t based on sound scientific evidence. He told the lower court that some people living close to turbines suffered an array of disabling health problems including sleeplessness, headaches and ringing in their ears.
Gillespie wanted the 550-metre rule set aside, and no further wind development allowed until a new setback rule based on better evidence could be adopted.
The lower court had rejected that application in March. The court of appeal gave no reason on Tuesday for rejecting Hanna’s application for leave to appeal.
Robert Hornung, who heads the Canadian Wind Energy Association, welcomed the decision.
He said in an interview that Ontario’s 550-metre setback regulation is “among the most stringent in North America.”
It had been established after a long process of consultation, Hornung said.
“This decision provides some certainty for the industry that indeed the regulatory framework will remain in place,” he said.
“That helps everyone in terms of project planning,” he said. It also removes an element of risk, he said.
Gillespie said that while the court had rejected Hanna’s application, the ruling left turbine opponents with other tools at their disposal.
The lower court ruling, he noted, expressly invited opponents to take their arguments to the province’s environmental review tribunal.
“They didn’t say the 550-metre setback is something that cannot be challenged,” Gillespie said.
“They said if you want to deal with that issue, it should be dealt with on a case by case basis before the environmental review tribunal.”
A review of a wind farm application before the tribunal is currently under way in Chatham-Kent, he noted. In that case, wind opponents are seeking to block the development. A decision is due in July.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding