(continued)

Three local wind groups
unite the fight against
industrial wind developments

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The move to “Unite the Fight” has advanced another step. 

Three local wind groups - SWEAR (Safe Wind Energy for All Residents), HEAT (Huron East Against Turbines) and HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeside Turbines) - have announced that Monday, June 9, the Falconer law firm successfully argued to have their Divisional Court appeals co-joined. 

The groups have been fighting the construction of wind farms near Goderich (K-2 project), St. Columban and Kincardine (Armow Wind project), respectively.

Dates to hear this appeal have been set for Nov. 17, 18 and 19. Falconers LLP is also seeking a date for a co-joined stay of the K-2, St. Columban and Armow Wind projects prior to the appeal in November.

The question arose March 1, 2013, in Superior Court, at the SWEAR (representing Shawn and Trish Drennan) hearing as to the ability of the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) to hear a question on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and how the Green Energy and Economy Act and “level of harm” apply. 

Justice Duncan Grace stayed the proceeding until such time as a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) was granted for the K-2 Wind project and an opportunity to appeal to the ERT presented itself. SWEAR was represented by Julian Falconer, a prominent human rights and constitutional lawyer.

Project approvals were granted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for the K-2, St. Columban and Armow Wind farms. As directed by Grace, ERT appeals for all three approvals were filed. They were each heard by the tribunal and denied.

“It is important to note that not all of the constitutional issues were allowed in at the hearings,” says Dave Hemingway, president of SWEAR. “Justice Grace gave us a right of appeal to the Divisional Court on a question of law if there was not a proper airing of the constitutional issues at the ERT level. We have followed that course of action and are happy to be joining forces with HEAT and HALT as we move forward.”

“The work of putting this case together has been ongoing since May, 2011," says Shawn Drennan. "A substantial record of evidence has been created to date. We are moving forward.”

Gerry Ryan, president of HEAT, says that “at the heart of the lawsuit is a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If this Charter Challenge is successful, it will set a precedent and will assist all appeals and legal challenges going forward. Others can then raise the same issues and seek the same relief. Communities that are dealing with existing projects could also receive benefit.”

“This action has the potential to shift the burden of proof from the need to prove direct serious harm to human health, to the need to prove the possibility of harm, a much lower and more reasonable threshold” says Kevin McKee, president of HALT.

Hemingway adds that there is a broader public interest being served. “It has taken time to educate the public to what is happening but the understanding is now clearly there. 

"This case is for the people of Ontario. The government says that massive industrial wind turbine developments are safe. We, the people, are holding the government accountable. The Charter is the government’s promise to every man, woman and child in Canada, guaranteeing that we will have security to conduct our affairs and our lives in relative peace. 

"The Government of Ontario did not exercise due diligence when crafting the Green Energy and Economy Act. A very heavy-handed approach was used. Ontario citizens should not take kindly to this type of governance.”

 

Deb Morris, vice-president of HALT, says the three cases share commonality in the basis of the argument on grounds of Charter Rights, and Falconers LLP represents all three. Similarly, the approval holders for all three projects are basically the same company. 


"It's in the best interests of the court in terms of time and resources, and in our best interests, to have a united group to represent the growing numbers of people all over the province concerned about the dangers of industrial wind turbines," says Morris.

"The approval holder (Samsung-Pattern) has a huge team of legal experts from different law firms, so we're bracing ourselves for a tough fight and we haven't ruled out the possibility of their ruthless tactics. We've already seen the evidence of bribery and other attempts to scuttle the appeal.

"We were discouraged by the Municipality of Kincardine's shabby 'deal with the company - but our resolve has just tripled with this Armow-St. Columban-Kingsbridge union!" 

Groups from across the province have come together to support, and continue to support this Charter Challenge. SWEAR, HALT and HEAT report that they have been successful in their fund-raising to date.

They note that they have come a long way and they want to keep going – right to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary. The groups express thanks to all who have supported them in the past. 

Members of the public can get more information, or donate to this action, by contacting one of the following:

Dave Hemingway: davehemingway@gmail.com
519-482-7005

Gerry Ryan: gerkar@tcc.on.ca 519-345-2620

Kevin McKee: crowningtouchfarm@gmail.com 519-396-8110



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