A group of Port Ryerse residents are moving forward with a lawsuit against a wind turbine company and neighbours who have leased land to it.
Notice of the lawsuit was recently filed at the Norfolk County courthouse.
The lawsuit pits plaintiffs Heather and James Walters, Kathleen Pickard, Marlene and Larry Hoyt, John and Dona Coville, William Irvin and Ingrid Zyma-Irvin, David and Elaine Tobin, and Timothy and Inda Lyons against UDI Renewables of Nanticoke.
Also named as defendants are Port Ryerse property owners David and Chere Smith, Irene and Donald Steinhoff, Robert and Erma Woolley, and Janet Faulkner.
According to a filing in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the plaintiffs are seeking a “permanent injunction restraining the construction and operation” of the UDI project, and “compensatory damages” from UDI in the amount of $3.25 million “for negligence, nuisance and trespass.”
The plaintiffs are also seeking $3.25 million from the defendants who have leased land to UDI. On top of this, the plaintiffs are seeking “punitive, exemplary and aggravated and mental distress damages in the amount of $1 million” from UDI and its clients in Port Ryerse.
The action is a response to UDI’s plan to construct four wind turbines in the Port Ryerse area. In his filing, environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie, of Toronto, says the value of the plaintiffs’ property in Port Ryerse will depreciate substantially once the turbines are in place.
“As a result of the proposal to construct and operate the Industrial Wind Facility, the plaintiffs’ properties and any persons thereon will be exposed to significant audible and inaudible noise, low frequency noise and light flicker, together with low frequency electrical grounding that will cause annoyance and decrease the value of the plaintiffs’ properties,” the filing says.
The suit goes on to say that these impacts constitute “a trespass” on the plaintiff’s property and are “sufficiently high-handed, egregious and reprehensible so as to justify an award of punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages.”
The allegations Gillespie makes on behalf of his clients have not been proven in court.
The president of UDI Renewables is Uwe Sandner. Sandner did not respond to phone and email inquiries. However, the Canadian Wind Energy Association has said that property values sometimes decline when wind turbines are built but rebound to their previous level over time.
Heather Walters has been leading the charge against the wind farm project since it was proposed several years ago.
Last week, Walters said the plaintiffs are taking legal action as a last resort. Walters said her neighbours have sought help for their concerns from the province, the municipality and through dialogue with the defendants but to no avail.
“I think it is important that everyone knows where we are coming from,” Walters said. “It was a difficult decision for us to come to. We in Port Ryerse didn’t arrive at this conclusion lightly. We just felt we had nowhere else to go. We’ve been left with no option. It became clear at the end of last summer that we had to go ahead and defend ourselves.”
The defendants can reply with a statement of defence or a notice to the court that they intend to defend the action. Their response will be reported once it becomes available.