Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal may just be the first stop for opponents of a 46-turbine wind project Suncor Energy plans to build in Lambton County.
The provincial government’s approval of Suncor’s Cedar Point renewable energy project is being appealed to the tribunal by Lambton County, and Aberarder Line residents Kimberley and Richard Bryce.
The Town of Plympton-Wyoming is also seeking to participate in the hearings.
The tribunal’s hearings are scheduled to begin Nov. 3 at the Camlachie Community Hall, with a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 6.
The Bryce family is being represented by the Toronto-based law firm headed by Julian Falconer.
“They have four young kids and they’re just concerned about the possible health effects associated with having their young children living in close proximity to these wind turbines,” said Asha James, an associate of Falconers LLP.
She added the family’s concern is heightened by the fact Health Canada is currently studying the health impacts of wind turbines, “because there are data gaps, and there just isn’t enough research to show how these will affect families, or residents living in close proximity to these turbines.”
A notice of appeal filed on behalf of the family says it will be surrounded by eight turbines within 2.5 kilometres of the Bryce home, and adds that they have young children with “pre-existing health concerns that will be adversely affected by the project.”
The notice also says the appeal will argue the province’s approval of the Suncor wind project violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Falconer spoke in Camlachie back in May at a meeting held by the group We’re Against Industrial Turbines, Plympton-Wyoming.
Since then, the group has been collecting donations to fund court challenges of Suncor’s wind project.
James said Falconer has described appeals to the provincial tribunal as “a long shot.” The tribunal has rejected nearly all of the wind project approval appeals it has heard.
“But, at this point, we don’t see another option that’s available to them,” James said.
She added the only way to preserve the right to raise issues with the courts is to first go through the tribunal process.
James said the law firm has been involved in three previous appeals to the tribunal, and has appealed its decisions to the divisional court in London. Those appeals are to be heard Nov. 17, 18 and 19.
Lambton County is expected to raise concerns at the tribunal hearings about the wind project’s electricity collection and transmission lines along road allowances creating traffic safety hazards for the travelling public.
Suncor has said the turbines it’s planning to build in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township could be up and operating by late 2015.