For Immediate Release: June 20, 2014
TURBINE PROJECT APPEALS CO-JOINED AND COURT DATES SET
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 on Monday, June 9th, the Falconer law firm successfully argued to have their Divisional Court appeals co-joined. The groups have been fighting against the construction of wind farms near Goderich, St. Columban and Kincardine respectively. Dates to hear this appeal have been set for November 17, 18 and 19, 2014. Falconers LLP is also seeking a date for a co-joined stay of the K2, St. Columban and Armow wind projects prior to the appeal in November.
The question arose at the March 1, 2013 Superior Court SWEAR (representing Shawn & 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 K2 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 Ministry of the Environment for the K2, St. Columban and Armow wind farms. As directed by Justice 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”, explains 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. A substantial record of evidence has been created to date. We are moving forward.” states Shawn Drennan.
Gerry Ryan, president of HEAT, commented 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 which 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 them 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 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.”
Groups from across the province have and continue to come together to support this Charter Challenge. SWEAR, HALT & HEAT report that they have been successful in their fundraising 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 519-482-7005 Gerry Ryan: email@example.com 519-345-2620 Kevin McKee: firstname.lastname@example.org 519-396-8110