Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wind Turbines Face Challenge

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wind turbines face challenge
Suit seeks to push minimum distance between turbines and homes from 550 metres to two kilometres

A Prince Edward County man is going to court over Ontario's new setback rules for industrial wind farms.

Lawyer Eric Gillespie, acting on behalf of client Ian Hanna, a resident of Big Island, has launched the first legal challenge to the Ontario government's Green Energy Act which requires wind turbines be located a minimum 550 metres from homes.

Gillespie said Hanna, who represents thousands of Ontarians, wants a judge to order a moratorium on the establishment of further wind turbine sites that are less than two km from a dwelling.

Possible adverse health effects, such as sleep deprivation and cardiac arrhythmia, require further study before the government proceeds with its ambitious plan to expand wind power throughout the province, supporters of the legal action say.

Energy Minister George Smitherman, interviewed before the suit became public said people are free to pursue issues through the court if they wish.

"We'll wait and see what they do," Smitherman said. "That's why we have lawyers."

Last month, the ministry introduced regulations governing how far wind turbines must be located from homes, roadways and property lines.

Ontario says the setbacks are the largest in Canada, the U.S. and *eight European countries. The minimum setback of 550 metres applies to up to five turbines, and increases with the number and sound level rating of turbines.

Dr. Robert McMurtry, former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, who appeared at a media conference yesterday launching the suit, said more than 100 people in Ontario report health problems due to turbine noise.

"There's no authoritative guidelines for the siting of wind turbines because there's no good evidence as to when they will be safe or not," McMurtry said.

"This is not an acceptable state of affairs when we're planning to plunge ahead on such a large scale, a tenfold increase in Ontario."

The challenge could be heard within a few months, Gillespie said.


(Note: * There are 48 European Countries. That means that 83% of European Countries have greater setbacks and 17% have a slightly shorter setback. )