A judge’s ruling on the validity of Plympton-Wyoming’s wind turbine bylaws won’t come quickly.
Following Wednesday’s submissions in Sarnia Superior Court Justice Marc Garson said the public wants careful review of the case and issuing a decision in two weeks would be like a Christmas wish list.
Garson also told approximately 50 spectators in the court the decision would not be a universal remedy for wind-power issues.
Suncor Energy challenged the bylaw stating the requirement for turbines to be two kilometres from any other property prohibits construction of any wind turbines in the town.
Suncor is planning to build 47 wind turbines in Lambton County capable of producing 100 megawatts of power. That power would be less than half a percent of Ontario’s peak power demand.
While the decision is awaited, Suncor and town officials discuss a possible resolution of the conflict.
Midway through the day Garson requested discussions between the two parties based on the Town’s acknowledgment the bylaws may need modification.
Plympton-Wyoming doesn’t disagree certain modifications may be needed based on recent court and Environmental Review Tribunal decisions, said lawyer Eric Gillespie, who represented Plympton-Wyoming at the hearing.
The health impacts of turbines are an issue for the town, said Gillespie.
There is an ongoing Health Canada study on the health impacts from wind turbines, the court was told. It is expected to be completed this year.
A Superior Court recently ruled a municipal bylaw that Plympton-Wyoming used as a model for its 2012 bylaw was invalid, as the definition of property was vague and uncertain.
In October 2012, a wind developer successfully sued the Township of Wainfleet, near Welland.
Both bylaws included a two-kilometre setback and a sound loudness rating of 32.
Provincial regulations call for a setback of 550 metres and sound level of 40.
Plympton-Wyoming has also mandated a fee of $10,000 per turbine and a $200,000 decommissioning deposit per turbine.
Suncor wants the bylaws quashed to accommodate stringent timelines for construction of the project. The company has already been granted a power purchase contract and is expecting environmental approval of the project in June.
Suncor also argued the Green Energy Act exempts wind turbines from municipal zoning bylaws.
Suncor’s challenge of the bylaws is premature as it has no environmental approval for the project and no guarantee it will ever get one, said Gillespie.
Garson questioned the number of projects that have been rejected through the approval process.
One out of 30 has been rejected prompting Garson to say there is a substantial likelihood that the Suncor project would be approved.
Suncor knew it was going to be a long process and one more step like the court case on the bylaw does not hinder the company, said Gillespie.
“There is no rush,” said Gillespie.
The impediment presented by the bylaws puts the construction of the project at risk, said Suncor lawyer Albert Engel.
“There is a rush,” he said.
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