Ontario keeps safe distance rule for giant wind turbines
by The Canadian Press
Industry group applauds court’s dismissal of challenge to Green Energy Act regulation
TORONTO—Ontario’s Divisional Court has quashed a small business owner’s challenge to the province’s rule regarding safe distances for giant wind turbines.
Industrial wind turbines in Ontario must be separated from homes by at least 550 metres, according to regulations under the province’s Green Energy Act.
Ian Hanna, a small business owner in Prince Edward County, recently challenged that rule. He charged there was no medical evidence to show 550 metres is actually a safe distance.
His challenge was dismissed this week by three judges in Ontario Divisional Court.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association, an industry lobby group, welcomed the court’s decision.
“If the decision had gone the other way it would have introduced a tremendous amount of uncertainty for the industry and for investors,” said Robert Hornung, CanWEA association president.
“This decision is an important signal of policy stability, which is important. Any decisions that create uncertainty [and] increase risks are decisions that essentially increase costs for investors,” he added.
The judges did note, however, that they had little jurisdiction in the case, leaving it open for the Environmental Review Tribunal.
They also agreed other regulations under the government’s Green Energy Act can be challenged in court.
“It’s not the outcome we’ve been hoping for, but the situation is not bleak either,” Hanna said.
“We don’t see this as a loss or a negative so much as it is a shifting of where that determination has to be made,” he added.
His lawyer, Eric Gillespie, said the ruling is precedent setting for all environmental regulations under the Act.
“There are many other aspects of that legislation that have raised concerns…all of those are now matters that can be brought before the courts.”
The court decision comes just days after the Ontario government imposed a moratorium on offshore wind energy projects. The province said there wasn’t enough scientific evidence on the impact of giant turbines in fresh water.