On Thursday, March 3, the Ontario Divisional dismissed Ian Hanna's application for judicial review of provincial regulations that established a minimum setback of 550 meters for wind turbines. The decision is a victory for the government and for those engaged in wind power development in the province.
Mr. Hanna's alleged that when establishing the minimum setback requirements, the government had failed to take into account potential adverse health effects from the low frequency sound and vibration emitted by wind turbines. The three-judge panel disagreed, saying the following:
"There was a full public consultation and a consideration of the views of interested parties. The ministerial review included science-based evidence, such as reports of the World Health Organization and the opinions of acoustical engineering experts. Cognizant of the possible health concerns, the minister decided the minimum 550-metre setback was adequate."
(As reported by the Ottawa Citizen)
Mr. Hanna argued that the "precautionary principle", which is part of Ontario's Statement of Environmental Values, requires that the government not approve wind turbines until the health effects are more thoroughly understood. The court held that "the health concerns for persons living in proximity to wind turbines cannot be denigrated, but they do not trump all other considerations."
(As reported by CTV News).
It remains to be seen if Mr. Hanna will appeal the decision of the Divisional Court or if he will pursue the issue in the context of Renewable Energy Approval appeals before the Environmental Review Tribunal.