A group of landowners who unsuccessfully sued a wind power developer and the farm corporation that leased it land have been ordered to pay legal costs of $107,370.78.
The 21 landowners near Collingwood sued wpd Canada Corp. and Beattie Brothers Farms for more than $17 million over the plans to develop the wind farm, arguing that it had decreased their property values.
Madam Justice S.E. Healey dismissed the action, ruling that while the landowners’ property value may have been diminished, it was not caused by any misconduct by wpd or Beattie Brothers.
She also noted that the proposed eight-turbine wind farm, known as the Fairview Wind Project, still hasn’t received final regulatory approval.
That made it impossible to assess exactly what form it might take, or what impact it might have.
“As the evidence exists today, the plaintiffs are unable to prove that they have been wronged by the defendants,” she wrote.
Beattie Brothers and wpd asked the court to have their legal costs paid by the unsuccessful landowners.
Healey accepted the request, dismissing a number of arguments raised by the landowners.
The case broke no new legal ground, she said. Nor was there any evidence that the landowners are too poor to pay.
She therefore ordered the landowners to pay $107,370.78 toward the legal costs of the other side.
Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the landowners, said that since it will be split 21 ways, the award won’t be ruinous to any of his clients.
Healey’s ruling left the door open to further legal action if the wind farm gets its final approval, Gillespie said.
“We believe there is still considerable interest, and will continue to be, in advancing claims if the project is approved,” Gillespie said.
He estimated the actual legal costs of wpd and Beattie as over $200,000: “They were awarded about half of that.”
Kevin Surette, a spokesman for wpd, wouldn’t confirm Gillespie’s estimate. He said wpd and Beattie had based their cost application on established principles, and had received what they had sought.
Surette said the wind farm application is still before the energy ministry. Once the ministry certifies it as complete, there’s a six-month review period, which includes opportunity for public comment.
“We fully intend to proceed” with the project, he said.
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