By Jonathan Sher, The London Free Press
A judicial fight over the future of wind turbines in Ontario wrapped up Thursday with the fate of the province’s green energy law in the hands of judges. On one side is big money, wind energy giants like Samsung and a Liberal government intent on becoming a world leader in creating green energy.
On the other are four families in Huron and Bruce counties whose homes are close to dozens of proposed turbines. But while it seems a David and Goliath affair, the underdogs have enlisted a legal pugilist who Thursday seemed to dance circles around the arguments of his adversaries, wrapping up a four-day hearing in London with an emotionally-loaded challenge to three Superior Court justices.
“The system has utterly broken down,” said Julian Falconer. “You have been tasked with keeping these people safe.” Falconer was the most dynamic of lawyers representing four families in Southwestern Ontario battling the building of wind farms. It’s not the first time lawyers have challenged the Green Energy Act in court. Three years ago, wind opponents lost in court fighting a decision by an environmental review tribunal to allow a wind farm. But the 2011 effort had a handicap this one does not — it was a judicial review, in which judges must give deference to the tribunal.
This time, Falconer wants the three-judge panel to:
- Halt, by issuing what’s called a stay, wind farms that are expected to be tested in January.
- Rule the environmental tribunal violated the constitutional rights of wind opponents when it refused to allow new evidence from a Health Canada study.
- Allow wind opponents to stop wind farms by showing they might be seriously harmed rather than proving they had been harmed. Read article