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Wind farm lawsuit launched

MITCHELL’S BAY- Company officials aren’t commenting on reports of a multi-million dollar lawsuit reportedly filed in connection with a $300 million wind turbine project in the former Dover township.

David Timm, vice-president of International Power Canada, would only say Monday the matter was before the courts “and therefore I can’t comment.”

The Chatham Daily News caught wind of an unconfirmed multi-million lawsuit Sunday. Reports say the lawsuit is being filed by neighbours – against neighbours.

North Kent councillor Leon Leclair said Monday he has heard through the grapevine that “some neighbours are suing neighbours” in Dover over turbines, and that the turbine company is handling the matter for its landowner clients.

“But I don’t have any more information I can add,” he said. “That all I’ve heard.”

North Kent councillor Joe Faas of Dresden said he wasn’t aware of any impending lawsuits in Dover.

Timm told The Chatham Daily News that good progress is being made on the East Lake St. Clair wind turbine project that calls for construction of 55 turbines between Wallaceburg and the Thames River east of the Mitchell’s Bay and Lake St. Clair shoreline.

He said the towers are being manufactured in Windsor and the project is providing 130 jobs. The blades are made in Colorado.

Kent-Lambton-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton said Monday he’s hearing from a number of residents in the riding that they are contemplating filing lawsuits.

“One of the major concerns is that property values will go down as a result of turbine construction,” he said.

McNaughton said the turbines are “pitting neighbour against neighbour and community against community.”

The MPP said the province’s green energy plan involving turbines is an “expensive experiment.”

He said Ontario is projected to have the highest electricity costs in North America by 2015 – even higher than California.

“It’s taking away Ontario’s competitive edge and costing us jobs,” he said.

McNaughton repeated his call for a moratorium on turbine construction across the province. MP Bev Shipley is also calling for a moratorium.

Oxford MPP and PC critic for agriculture Ernie Hardeman said more than 60% of Ontario farmers surveyed said rising hydro costs are having a significant impact on their operations.

In a report tabled Monday, Hardeman said 97% of farmers surveyed said they have been impacted by increased hydro costs and 60.7% said the impact has been significant.

He said government documents forecast that the cost of hydro will increase 46% over the next five years, primarily due to green energy.

“Most farmers don’t have the ability to set the price of their product so rising costs, such as hydro, directly impact their bottom line and can force them out of business,” he said.

He said the government claims to support farmers, but continues to make policies based on public relations and political gain without considering the impacts on farmers and rural Ontario.

Adam Scott of Environmental Defence Canada, in an email Monday, disagreed with Shipley’s claim Friday that environmental groups are remaining silent on the wind turbine issue.

Shipley said “environmental groups that are not usually shy about making their views known seem to have lost their voice on this one for reasons I don’t understand.”

Scott, manager of the climate and energy program, said far from being shy, Canadian environmental groups are vocal in their support for renewable energy.

“Wind power is not new,” he said. “It has been used safely around the world for 30 years and is now among the fastest growing sources of electricity generation worldwide.”

He said there have been many studies into the effects of windmills, both on the environment and human health, and overwhelmingly they show them to be safe as long as they are cited correctly.

“In fact, using more wind power means we can burn less dirty fossil fuels, reducing smog, mercury pollution and global warming,” he said. “The transition towards using cleaner, safer renewable energy is ultimately good for our health, our environment and our economy.”