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Anti-wind lawsuits stacking up in Ontario  

Credit:  John Spears, Business Reporter | November 1, 2012 | www.thestar.com ~~

Another group of Ontario landowners has filed a lawsuit against a wind power project in the escalating legal skirmishing over renewable energy.

The latest action – against the East Lake St. Clair wind project near Wallaceburg – is the 10th that his firm is working on, according to lawyer Eric Gillespie, who filed the claim.

Like several previous actions by residents living near wind developments, the suit claims damages from not just the wind developer, International Power Canada.

It also seeks damages from seven landowners who have leased out their property for turbines.

Gillespie said his clients are seeking a total of $9 million.

“The claim is based on alleged devaluation of property,” Gillespie said in an interview.

The claimants are asking to be compensated for up to the full value of their properties, he said.

Gilllespie said some studies have shown that property near wind power developments declines in value by up to 40 per cent.

But he said some landowners near wind projects have found no buyers at all when they try to sell, which is why his clients are asking for the full value of their holdings in compensation.

The East Lake St. Clair project is designed to deliver 99 megawatts of power, using about 55 turbines.

According to the statement of claim, all the proposed turbines are located far enough from homes to comply with Ontario law. The rules are that turbines must be at least 550 metres from any dwelling.

The statement of claim describes the turbines as a “non-natural use” of land that “permits the escape of damaging noise/sound, vibration and light flicker onto the plaintiffs’ properties.”

The plaintiffs will suffer “anxiety and worry, annoyance, inconvenience, loss of comfort and enjoyment of a direct and substantial character, loss of viewscape, (and) loss of enjoyment of normal use of their properties” according to the claim.

The claim has not been proven and is subject to challenge by the defendants.

A spokesman for International Power declined to comment on the claim, saying the matter is before the courts.

Gillespie said the most advanced of the 10 claims in which he is involved is over a proposed wind farm near Stayner.

Gillespie said the wind farm is seeking to have the action dismissed without trial, arguing there’s no basis in law for the claim.

Politics could play a part in the future of many wind farms and their neighbours.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has been a staunch backer of all forms of renewable energy, but he is on the way out.

Current energy minister Chris Bentley says he’s leaving politics.

Bentley’s predecessor Brad Duguid is not running for the Liberal leadership, as some had speculated. And George Smitherman – the architect of Ontario’s current green energy policies – has also ruled out a run for the leadership.

That leaves considerable uncertainty about the future of Liberal energy policies.

The Conservative, meanwhile, have vowed to abolish some of the Liberals’ key green energy programs. The New Democrats are much more friendly to green power.

Source:  John Spears, Business Reporter | November 1, 2012 | www.thestar.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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