Canadian farmer files for judicial review over wind farm development

CANADA: An Ontario farmer has launched a legal challenge against the province's wind power plans.

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Ian Hanna filed an application October 19 with the Ontario Divisional Court for a judicial review of Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act.

Hanna is calling on the court to strike down rules that lay out how far wind turbines have to be from homes and property boundaries, claiming there is scientific uncertainty around the health effects of industrial wind turbines.

That would allow the government, with hopefully some guidance from the court, to establish a different provision that reflects the concerns around human health in a more meaningful way, says Hanna’s lawyer Eric Gillespie.

Ontario’s current regulation requires turbines to be at least 550 metres from homes, and while the application does not suggest how large the setback should be, Gillespie says 2000 metres would likely address most if not all of Mr. Hanna’s and many other people’s concerns.

Hanna’s application also calls for an injunction against the approval of wind projects in the province until the issue is resolved. Gillespie says his client’s argument is based on a tenet of environmental law known as the precautionary principle.

The precautionary principle could probably be summarised as saying where there is scientific uncertainty around an issue, until that uncertainty is resolved it is not appropriate or prudent to proceed, he says.

The application has the support of Wind Concerns Ontario, which has been a vocal opponent of wind development in the province. The group is raising money on its web site to support Hanna’s challenge.

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