An Aberarder couple is concerned the health of their children will be impacted by Suncor’s plan to build wind turbines near their home, Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal heard Wednesday.
Asha James, a lawyer for Kimberley and Richard Bryce, spoke about those concerns during her opening statement on the first day of testimony before the tribunal at the Camlachie Community Centre.
The Bryce family, and Lambton County, appealed the provincial government’s environmental approval for the 46-turbine Cedar Point wind project Suncor Energy plans to build in Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and Warwick Township.
James said two of the Bryce family’s four children have been diagnosed with communication disorders and are sensitive to noise.
“The youngest child, Luke, suffers from ear infections and has difficulty sleeping,” James said.
“The Bryce family have a legitimate fear that the eight turbines that will be erected around their home will cause harm to their health.”
James added the province’s “legislative scheme” to approval wind projects removed the ability of municipalities to pass bylaws about turbine noise, or to set how far back turbines must be built from neighbours.
“The ability to enact such bylaws, would have provided the necessary health protection,” James said.
“The government has taken that away.”
The family is also expected to argue the province’s approval process violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The legislative scheme for approving and appealing wind projects, places the health of the appellants at risk,” James said.
“In effect, it has relegated the appellants to the role of guinea pigs, and that can’t be right.”
In his opening statement, David Cribbs, Lambton County’s lawyer, said the county will argue that the proposed wind project will increase safety risks for motorists because of electricity transmission poles expected to be built alongside local roads.
Suncor’s lawyer Albert Engel said the company plans to call eight witnesses to address concerns raised in the appeals.
The Bruce family’s lawyers, and others at the hearing, said they also plan to call witnesses.
“Suncor disputes the allegation that engaging in Cedar Point in accordance with it REA (Renewable Energy Approval) will cause serious harm to human health,” Engel said.
A lawyer for Ontario’s Ministry of Environment didn’t make an opening statement.
Priya Vittal, a lawyer for the Town of Plympton-Wyoming, said in her opening statement that the municipality opposes the building of industrial wind turbines in the community.
“With 27 of the 46 proposed turbines being located within the town, along with the majority of the citizens, they are concerned about the short and long-term serious health impacts,” Vittal said.
Jason Cole, the county’s manager of public works, testified Wednesday about his concerns with the safety of placing transmission towers near a county road in the project area.
Several individuals are also listed as participants or presenters at the hearings that are scheduled to continue this week, followed by additional dates in November and December.
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