Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, is encouraged by an Ontario court decision last week that “is a significant step forward” for clients in the County and across the province.
Gillespie, speaking at a Wind Town Hall meeting in Picton on Thursday, said the recognition of property value devaluation by an Ontario Court Justice clears the way for actions against both wind developers and those who lease their land for turbines.
“For years, wind companies and government agencies have been saying ‘that doesn’t happen, that will never happen’ and that is no longer correct. A judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has said otherwise as of this week.”
Madam Justice Healey dismissed claims by landowners who sued wpd Canada and a farm corporation that signed lease agreements with wpd based on the fact the eight-turbine project has not yet received environmental approval and that the plaintiffs are unable to prove that the project will be built.
Gillespie said she did recognize that damage had been done and the court specifically recognized that claims against wind companies and against landowners who agree to host wind turbines are possible as soon as projects receive approval.
“Even though in this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering losses culminating in diminished property values, as the evidence exists today the plaintiffs are unable to prove that they have been wronged by the defendants,” she wrote.
But Kevin Surette, of wpd Canada says the evidence was “speculative” and the court’s acceptance of property values came before the wind company presented its evidence.
“The case was dismissed by Justice Healey prior to wpd entering or challenging evidence, due to the inability of the plaintiffs to establish any legal basis for their claims to proceed to trial,” said Jesse Long, legal counsel for wpd Canada. “Had the case proceeded to the trial phase, wpd would have challenged the plaintiffs’ evidence.”
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