Ontario wind growth endangered by 'human health' court case

CANADA: A panel of Ontario Divisional Court judges reserved its decision in a challenge that, if successful, could pose a threat to the province’s wind energy plans.

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Ian Hanna, a resident of Prince Edward County, called on the court to strike down regulations under Ontario’s Green Energy Act governing how far wind turbines have to be from homes and property boundaries.

During a one-day hearing Monday, Hanna argued the minimum setback of 550 metres does not take into account the possible negative impacts to human health that turbines may cause.

If the court agrees, and the policy is overturned, the ruling could put further wind power construction in Ontario on hold until more research is done.

The government denied that it failed to fully examine potential health effects of turbines, pointing out the province’s environment ministry reviewed all the literature available on the issue and held public consultation that considered the views of a wide range of stakeholders before creating the setbacks.

The court agreed to hear the challenge despite arguments from government lawyer Sara Blake that the proper forum for issues related to setbacks for wind turbine projects is the province’s environmental review tribunal.

That tribunal is set to hear a challenge of the first permit awarded to a wind farm under Ontario’s new Renewable Energy Approval process in a hearing that starts February 1.

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