by PAT CURRIE
Don’t count it as a legal watershed for battles over other wind farm proposals.
That’s a Chatham-Kent anti-turbine activist’s perspective of the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision this week to quash a challenge to provincial law that sets minimum distances between power-generating wind turbines and human habitations.
"All I see is one court passing the buck to another," said Monica Elmes, speaking for the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group. The group is appealing approval of Suncor Energy’s proposed Kent Breeze wind farm project near Thamesville, about 20 kilometres northeast of Chatham, on the grounds it is a health hazard.
Suncor is proposing to place eight turbines on farmland to generate 20 megawatts of power.
The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) is hearing the appeal. It has been shifting proceedings back and forth between Chatham and Toronto since early February.
In the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision, issued Thursday, three judges wrote that they did not consider it the proper jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality or wisdom of the province in setting the 55-metre setback.
"I find it kinda funny – the MOE (Ministry of the Environment) lawyers at first said that Ontario Divisional Court was where the challenge should be heard and now the court is saying it should be heard by the ERT,” said Elmes.
"It seems that both bodies are trying to pass the buck. Meanwhile, there’s no justice for the people who are suffering physically from the presence of the turbines. There’s no justice." BF