The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal keeps upholding wind projects, despite opponents’ arguments that annoyance about wind turbines ought to be considered an adverse health effect. In Dingeldein v. Ontario (Director, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change), 2015 CarswellONT 12609, the appellants unsuccessfully sought revocation of a Renewable Energy Approval Number (the “REA”) to Grey Highlands Nominee (No. 1) Ltd. under s. 47.5 of the Environmental Protection Act (“EPA“) for a Class 4 wind facility.
The appeal cited the usual grounds, i.e. that engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plants, animals and the natural environment, and will cause serious harm to human health. The Appellant also alleged that s. 47.5 and s. 142.1 of the EPA violate his rights to security of the person under s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Most of the evidence and arguments heard in this appeal had already been heard in appeals against other wind approvals, and found insufficient. The Appellant argued that his case was different because of recent studies, and that “there is an evolving understanding of the impact of wind turbines on human health”.
The Tribunal found that recent studies did not materially change its previous conclusions. While some people are annoyed by wind turbines, “there was insufficient evidence to establish that [such] “annoyance” … could be considered “serious harm to human health”.”
The Charter issues had also been decided in previous cases.
The municipality of Grey Highlands argued that the turbines should be three times as far from road allowances as the MOECC requires, because of the risk of “blade throw, tower failure and ice throw.” The Tribunal rejected these concerns, accepting evidence that these risks were “rare” and “remote”.