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 9 , 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