The Question of Liability

by Luke Schilder

 The real liability of industrial wind turbines has never been proven. Using comparables, here is a simple analysis of the situation:

 If we become injured or ill we all look for a reason. If we can find a cause, then the owner of the cause becomes responsible (liable). That seems to be simple reasoning in law. In those cases, case law exists and will prevail.

 But here is where the problem starts with industrial wind turbines, because of the new fangled term “green” that has been given to them. We do not look at the real problem here, and I don’t mean whether those things are really green or not. This is not the point at this time. We are discussing what happens if someone gets injured or becomes ill due to wind turbines. Then the question becomes, who is liable? Currently, it seems to be fashionable to call anyone who claims illness from industrial turbines “a lunatic or crazy”. That can and will not last. It used to be fine to use DDT or asbestos. It used to be safe and fine to smoke in the presence of non-smokers. The court will decide otherwise regarding the health effects of industrial wind.

 The industrial turbines that are being built are for the most part built by companies who lease the land from the landowner. The landowner has a contract in place with the industrial wind turbine company to lease the land to these companies to build turbines. If I get injured or ill because of turbines, then I have the right to start legal proceedings. My question is, why would I sue the industrial wind turbine company? After all, the wind turbine is only a tenant. It could be that proceedings should start against the landowner. Let him deal with his tenants. The landowner is liable for property taxes. We know that the wind company will compensate the landowner for property taxes, but the landowner has to make sure that they get paid. Therefore, it could be reasoned out that any legal proceedings should start with the landowner.

 That is why I have made calls to the insurance industry. On my own farm, I carry a sizeable liability policy; no one can take on the liability risk on his/her own anymore. After talking to many of the insurance companies, it became clear that the landowner in question who leases his land to the wind company has absolutely no coverage inside his normal liability policy. Secondly, it can be argued that those claims are environmental claims (stray voltage, vibration, flicker, etc.). Then I went back and said, “What about coverage under my environmental policy that I have as an extension of my liability policy?” The answer was again very clear; absolutely no coverage for leased land with industrial turbines. Therefore, the farmer who leases his land to industrial wind companies has no liability coverage. He has a farm policy, not industrial wind turbine coverage that specifies industrial turbines on the land he leases out. That by itself is very dangerous in terms of liability exposure.

Here are some things to think about:

*How much trust do I put in anybody who is potentially not liable to begin with?

*If wind companies are potentially liable, it could cost so much that the wind company might run if and when lawsuits are filed.

 *But the landowner’s livelihood is on the line. This is a person or family that has everything it owns on the line, including assets other than the leased land. * We have listened to the wind industry telling us not to worry; they guarantee that the sun will rise again. They are our new friends who are well guided by fancy lawyers located far away.

 *The landowner who leases the land to industrial wind companies has old friends who do not count anymore, because those old friends could get sick.

 The precautionary principle should be practiced as recommended by independent experts and not the attitude that is out there that people with health effects from turbines are crazy, and health effects are inadmissible. There will come a time that the courts will decide the proper liability. It might be sooner or later, but those wind leases are in place for a very long time and the courts have time to prove the truth.

Current political support can and will change. Your land is at stake; your family’s wellbeing is at stake. Please practice the precautionary principle and don’t trust that lawyers from the wind companies are going to protect you when you already have signs out there that they do not. No one can ignore forever that there are no health effects from wind turbines.

 I myself think, and would like to warn, that any land that has a wind lease on it could be classified as “environmentally polluted land” and might potentially have very little or no value until the wind lease runs out. In most cases, those leases last for as long as it is beneficial for the wind company (eternity).

Luke Schilder

Member of C.H.A.T

7 thoughts on “The Question of Liability

  1. Liability is exactly what Municipalities thought they were “relieved of” with the passage of the Green Energy Act. The Municipalities were “relieved” to have their Planning Authority for these monsters taken away from them so they could just “blame” the Provincial Government for this rush to destroy our Land and Homes with Industrial expansion of IWT’s on Rural Land.

    I call it being “spineless”….too strong a word?:……tough!

    “Spineless Councils” across Ontario (all 440 of them) never raised one finger to fight on behalf of their constituents to stop this Green Energy Act when given the chance to speak up!

    When all is said and done, not only are the Landowners who signed these leases, liable for damages, but the “shady” Wind Reps who sold them the idea and paid them to shut up are liable and the Provincial Officials who sanctioned this Scam are liable and the members of Councils across Ontario are liable for damages!

    Liability should have no bounds here and all involved should eventually be held accountable!

  2. The land owners should indeed be very careful about what is included in their leases to wind turbine operators.

    There may be some leases with turbine operators that include sharing in any profits from the sale of the electricity. So they have become partners with the turbine operators.This may also include “free” electricity from the turbines. So both parties could be responsible for damages.

    If it just a regular/simple lease/rent agreement of the land with the turbine operator then the turbines built on that leased land belong to the tenant as agreed to by both parties to the lease. Only the land is leased with an agreed rental price per year. No profit sharing but the land owner does agree to having turbine/turbines constructed on the property.

    The land owner unless agreed to does not provide insurance for the tenants property.

    The question the courts will have to decide is if only one party to a simple lease is responsible or are both parties responsible for any damages done by the presence of the turbines in the case of a simple lease agreement.

    Property is often leased for construction of commercial or industrial buildings or structures.
    There should be plenty of case law as to which party to the lease is responsible for any damages from the constructed property on the leased land.

    Would think that smart land owners would have the liability issues in writing.

  3. Barbara:

    You always raise interesting points. My first reaction — even knowing what I conclude with here was one of doubt. Then I reviewed the legal definition.

    For anyone who doubts her caution… read this…
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/partnership

    In summary a Partnership is a relationship — it is not a legal document.

  4. Caution – IANAL

    Although the term “lease” is almost always used to describe these arrangements, legally I think they are not leases, but rather a license.

    I don’t think that makes any difference as far as liability goes, however. In my conversations with an insurance agent it seems the insurance industry doesn’t quite know how to handle this.

    One thing is clear – a licensor (the landowner) would almost certainly be named in any lawsuit. A typical license agreement might call for the licensee (the developer) to maintain just one million in coverage. Certainly that’s not enough for any number of plausible occurrences.

    Any real lawyers out there, who might chime in?

  5. Wayne:

    I think they are leases and it would not likely be treated seriously to all them otherwise. You can always try… 🙂 Not sure of any different treatment under the law as both would fall under contract law and the civil code.

    Now the second that there is a finding that Wind Turbine noise or infra-sound can cause injury or illness — it gets more interesting.

    Patience…

  6. One has to know what exactly is in the lease agreements to be more explicit about this.

    Insurance would not be written on just bare land but is on any structures on the land. It is assumed that the land itself would not be destroyed except under unusual circumstances.

    Can also be obtained for livestock and crops.

    You also need to know if this is also a partnership or partnership with limited liability agreement.

    Lots of contract law can be involved in these agreements with wind turbine companies.

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