The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) recently issued its first major decision of a renewable energy approval appeal related to human health concerns since Erickson v Director, Ministry of Environment (see our post on that decision here). In Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc v Director, Ministry of the Environment, the ERT found that there was no evidence before it that the South Kent Wind Project (Project) will, cause serious harm to human health.

The appeal challenged the Minister of the Environment’s (MOE) approval of the planned 270 megawatt wind generation farm in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. The MOE issued the Project’s Renewable Energy Approval on June 15, 2012, which prompted Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. to launch the appeal. One individual was granted status to participate and another individual to make a presentation.

The ERT found that the decision in Erickson has settled the evidentiary test that appellants must meet to demonstrate that a project will cause serious harm to human health. A participant in the appeal challenged the test because of the difficulty in demonstrating some alleged harm from wind turbines, such as harm to emotional and mental health. The ERT rejected this challenge and found that there was “no evidentiary basis whatsoever” presented to find that the Project will adversely affect human health.

Also at issue was the methodology that the MOE requires REA applicants to use to predict noise from a planned wind project. A presenter argued that the MOE’s guidelines led to inaccurate results. However, the ERT was clear that it requires evidence of what the impact of a project could be and that the project would harm human health. A challenge of the testing approach in the absence of evidence is insufficient on an appeal.