PORT RYERSE – Proponents of a four-turbine wind farm in Port Ryerse are not backing down from the threat of a lawsuit.
The green-energy firm UDI Renewables, of Nanticoke, and the landowners it has contracted to host the turbines have responded to a notice of lawsuit filed at the Norfolk County court house late this winter.
UDI Renewables and landowners David and Chere Smith, Irene and Donald Steinhoff, Robert and Erma Woolley, and Janet Faulkner recently filed notices of their intent to defend themselves. The notice says the Toronto law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP will represent the landowners.
It is unclear who will represent UDI Renewables. However, the international green-energy company Boralex is in the process of attaining ownership of the Port Ryerse project. At a recent meeting of Norfolk council, a Boralex representative said the corporation will “indemnify” the defendants in this action.
The landowners and UDI Renewables are being sued by Port Ryerse residents 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.
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 also seek $3.25 million from the landowners who have leased land for the turbines. They also ask for “punitive, exemplary and aggravated and mental distress damages in the amount of $1 million” from UDI and its clients.
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 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.”
Gillespie’s allegations have not been proven in court.
Uwe Sandner, president of UDI Renewables, has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the situation. However, the Canadian Wind Energy Association says property values sometimes decline when wind turbines are built but rebound to previous levels over time.
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