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Court says turbines reduce property values, but dismisses lawsuit against wpd

Eric Gillespie, lawyer for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County, is encouraged by an Ontario court decision last week that “is a significant step forward” for clients in the County and across the province.

Gillespie, speaking at a Wind Town Hall meeting in Picton on Thursday, said the recognition of property value devaluation by an Ontario Court Justice clears the way for actions against both wind developers and those who lease their land for turbines.

“For years, wind companies and government agencies have been saying ‘that doesn’t happen, that will never happen’ and that is no longer correct. A judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has said otherwise as of this week.”

Madam Justice Healey dismissed claims by landowners who sued wpd Canada and a farm corporation that signed lease agreements with wpd based on the fact the eight-turbine project has not yet received environmental approval and that the plaintiffs are unable to prove that the project will be built.

Gillespie said she did recognize that damage had been done and the court specifically recognized that claims against wind companies and against landowners who agree to host wind turbines are possible as soon as projects receive approval.

“Even though in this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering  losses culminating in diminished property values, as the evidence exists today the plaintiffs are unable to prove that they have been wronged by the defendants,” she wrote.

But Kevin Surette, of wpd Canada says the evidence was “speculative” and the court’s acceptance of property values came before the wind company presented its evidence.

“The case was dismissed by Justice Healey prior to wpd entering or challenging evidence, due to the inability of the plaintiffs to establish any legal basis for their claims to proceed to trial,” said Jesse Long, legal counsel for wpd Canada. “Had the case proceeded to the trial phase, wpd would have challenged the plaintiffs’ evidence.”

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  1. Jane Wilson says:

    Just released today via Tom Adams: (heavily redacted)government documents released under FOI that show they KNOW Ostrander Point and White Pines projects are in sensitive areas for wildlife.
    http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/F.O.I.Request-13_05.pdf

  2. Rightie says:

    Doris, I am not sure what year you are talking about that hydro came to the county, but I am talking about very early hydro, turn of the century. I doubt you are old enough to remember that. By the time hydro could have come to the county, hydro was an established energy source.

  3. Doris Lane says:

    Since I was never in a position to see one of these, I was going on what a couple of people said. The way you explain the contracts makes you wonder why anyone would sign one.
    I am afraid some people never read the contracts, some smooth talking salesman told one eldery genteman he would get X dollars and it would be good for the community. His wife told me they did not understand. Lucky for them they lived in Sophiasburgh and it all got cancelled

  4. Sue3 says:

    Doris, there are quite a few of us that have copies, although each company has probably worded the contract differently. Any landowner that has actually read the contract shouldn’t even need a lawyer to tell them not to sign. There are all kinds of red flags. With regard to the land, the wind companies have all the rights, the landowner has few, if any.

    The wind company has “without limitation, the right and privilege for audio, visual, view, light, flicker, noise, shadow, air turbulence, wake, electrical and radio frequency interference, and any other effects attributable to the Turbines…”

    Any disputes between the landowner and the wind company have to be determined by arbitration, the arbitrator must be either an attorney, an engineer, or an energy industry executive, and the arbitration is to be kept confidential.

    They take control of the land,’suggest’ there ‘may’ be problems, and throw in a ‘gag order’ to top it off.

    Amazing what people will do for money.

  5. Doris Lane says:

    Rightie I remember when hydro came to the County and I do not remember any protests we were just glad to have electricity after depending on ice boxes, coleman lamps and oil lamps. The poles in those days were very small.
    Chris good article about the insurance on farms that have turbines. A few years ago I had to phone people for APPEC
    who did not have computers. One lady told me that a company approached her son and he took the contract to a lawyer who told him to stay clear of signing something like that. A farmer on Wolfe Island told me the same thing. Most of the time the wind companies would not let the contracts out of their hands but these couple of people got them

  6. Chris Keen says:

    Here’s some interesting fallout:

    From the Sarnia-Lambton Independent

    “A local insurance broker says a recent decision to allow neighbours of wind farms to sue for lost property value may make it harder for farms with wind turbines to get liability insurance.

    Greg Cameron of Cameron Insurance was one of the speakers at yesterday’s meeting held by CORE – Conserve Our Rural Enniskillen. CORE organized after three wind companies began moving throughout the area asking farmers to host wind turbines on their property. Up to 51 turbines are planned in the three projects.

    But Cameron is warning farmers they need to be careful about signing lease agreements because it may affect their insurance coverage.

    Cameron says a recent Ontario Court decision in which a judge ruled property owners around a proposed development in Collingwood could go to court to look for damages to cover the devaluation of their property once the project was built.

    Cameron says the insurance industry, which does not have uniform policies on liability insurance for farms with industrial turbines, is closely watching the situation…

    Cameron adds insurance companies, like many other groups, are simply waiting to see what happens once hundreds of the energy generators are online. “What one company does today may not be what they do next week,” he says.

    Right now, every insurance carrier has different rules and farmers searching around for better deals are finding wide variations in rules and prices. And he says it is nearly impossible for those who have already signed wind leases. ‘If they’re stuck with a lease agreement, they could lose all liability on the farm covering all the property.'”

  7. Marnie says:

    Ugly as they may have been Rightie they were as nothing compared with what is coming.

  8. Rightie says:

    Bear in mind at the turn of the century when they were planning Hydro lines and ugly generating stations, there were protests with exactly the same arguments as we see today about wind farms.

  9. Garth Manning says:

    I live in the County,not Singapore. I’ve downloaded and read every word of Justice Healey’s judgment. Chris Keen in his April 30 posting had it absolutely right. The Judge dismissed the claims as premature but gave the right to bring them back if and when the wind project is authorized to construct. The Judge accepted as a fact that the people bringing the claims had shown in evidence that they had suffered and were continuing to suffer harm through a loss in property values and a corresponding interference with the use and enjoyment of their properties. If the wind project does get approved, then no doubt the claims will be back in Court and the same evidence will be given, and no doubt attacked by the same WPD Canada Corporation which is putting South Marysburgh at risk.

    Common Sense 101.

  10. Al says:

    I think we could all use a rest from Singapore Mike, who seems to be hunkered down with his computer on the other side of the planet getting his rocks off by poking his nose into County life disturbing the pax and trying to convince us all that he has greater cognitive powers than all others. He really loves to get the adrenaline running. Sounds to me like he is so board with life in good old Singapore that he like those bullies we all come across in life like to toss a few punches hoping they will get a reaction so he can continue to do damage. Now if everyone would just stop reacting to him or responding to his boring gam
    we could effectively hurt his feelings. Mind you, bullies always keep at it until a bully bigger than them slaps them down. Mike, I think you are a spineless creature and because you are not part of this community I think you should . . . get lost:)

  11. Mark says:

    Wasting your breath trying to change that mindset. It is the same with the local CSG who would go to the stake and burn,spewing their venom, all for the using of children and grandchidren to support a cult cause. And they always avoid the conversation of big corporations sucking everyday living expenses out of the County residents. For zero change to CO emmissions.

  12. county steve says:

    Everyone should search Bob Smith’s statement in the last blog.
    Our buddy Mike is having great fun at our emotional expense, but I will make another useless attempt to clear the air.
    Mike, you are in love with your own brainpower, but try stripping away your own rhetoric. The County is not against Green. There are solar farms burgeoning here. We’re not against wind: there are several sweet microsystems in place here, with no screams of outrage.
    Try to pound this through your ever-thickening skull. THE PROBLEM IS: IWTs located in the worst possible place in Ontario. Is that simple enough for you to understand? Death, destruction, paving a recognized protected wildlife area with concrete? You sure you’re okay with that?
    Stop pretending we’re not on board with Green … we’re just not on board with the Green Energy Act. We’re not anti-wind, we’re anti-destruction of the very earth your people pretend to love so much, you’ll kill anything to do it.
    One or two visits to the County does not entitle you to decide our future. I don’t give a crap about lawyers and legal arguments. I do give a crap about our future.

  13. Chris Keen says:

    Mike – the Justice clearly states the defendants are suffering diminished property values. The quote is reproduced from her ruling. The case was dismissed because the IWTs have not yet been constructed so the plaintiffs could not prove (yet) that they have been wronged. This is not denial.

  14. Henri Garand says:

    Here are few facts about Singapore, easily confirmed on Wikipedia. Singapore is 704 sq. km in size (cf. 1048 sq. km for the County), 120 sq. km of which consists of land reclaimed since 1960. It is a highly urbanized city state, with a 2011 population of 5.18 million (cf. the County’s 25,496 in 2006 census), and it is one of the world’s three top oil refining centres.

    “Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth” (Wikipedia).

    This the place Mike Barnard has chosen for residence.

    How can his perceptions and opinions have any relevance for Prince Edward County? On the basis of residence alone he is disqualified from opining on the County’s future. Barnard has nothing at stake.

    But every time he sniffs too many refinery fumes, Countylive readers have to endure another heady, conceited email containing unwelcome and irrelevant advice.

  15. Marnie says:

    If we are hysterical you are in serious need of a reality check Virginia. Local realtors have told us that property near the proposed site of the turbines is not moving. Jean Theoret’s letter makes some strong points about how potential property buyers may understandably feel about moving to the county now. While you are buying up property maybe you would consider the Brooklyn Bridge? Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, if they ever do.

  16. virginia says:

    I am of the opinion that property values will rise again when people stop being hysterical. You are making things bad for yourself. In the meantime, if I had the wherewithal, I would be buying up property as fast as I could.

  17. Mike Barnard says:

    Chris demonstrates denial. Please pay attention, it’s instructive.

  18. Chris Keen says:

    Sadly, the “tortious conduct”, and therefore the right to sue for the loss of property values, does not occur until the IWTs are constructed. However, “in this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering, losses …” Crystal clear.

  19. Mike Barnard says:

    I provide evidence, references and logic. Mr. Garand provides spin and unfounded claims of libel.

    You decide which is more believable.

  20. Henri Garand says:

    Perched in Singapore, safe from Canada’s libel laws, Mike Barnard tries to spread his avian flu via internet defecations. Now he has extended his non-expert commentary to matters of law.

    Countylive readers should ask themselves what motivates Barnard’s interest in the welfare of the County. His pro-wind bias is a clue.

    The Ostrander Point appeal taking place now is an enormous threat to the wind industry. A victory will put a halt to wind development in Ontario and may trigger similar decisions worldwide.

    Of course self-appointed crusaders will defame opponents of wind and try to undermine support for this thoroughly damaging legal action undertaken by APPEC and PECFN.

    I have posted the above comment twice because of Barnard’s own redundant messaging.

  21. Mike Barnard says:

    Chris, Gillespie extracted that statement out of a longer paragraph. Let’s see what it says, shall we?

    “Even though in this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering, losses culminating in diminished property values, as the evidence exists today the plaintiffs are unable to prove that they have been wronged by the defendants. They have not presented any evidence linking the diminution of property values to any tortious conduct.”

    Note that last sentence and the major clause in the previous sentence that Gillespie neglected to include in his press release or statements.

    That’s called zero evidence and getting kicked out of court, not a win for Gillespie or any sort of evidence of property value harm from wind turbines.

    As others have pointed out, the extraordinarily harsh and vituperative comments of anti-wind lobbyists and campaigners are damaging to Prince Edward County and its real estate prices.

    The evidence from the five major studies from the US and UK covering 46,000 property transactions near wind farms is that there is no negative impact on property values. In fact, two of the studies find positive impacts, which makes sense: better local economy, better tax revenues, better amenities, more local jobs all equal higher property values. What hurts property values temporarily is anti-wind campaigners before wind farms become operational.

  22. Chris Keen says:

    Mr. Barnard there is no way that Madam Justice Healey would issue a judgment with the statement that “Even though in this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering losses culminating in diminished property values…” unless THESE Plaintiffs presented overwhelmingly compelling evidence that their property values have diminished. If this were not the case, she would simply have dismissed the case advising the Plaintiffs that they could not launch an action until the IWTs were constructed.

  23. Doris Lane says:

    It is evident that IWT’s have reduced property values everywhere in the County–people do not want to come here.
    People never know when transmission lines might be running by their house

  24. Doris Lane says:

    Dan you are right and Ritchie wind turbines are not going to solve the climate change problem. Water power is the answer to electricity problems and conservation,
    The construction of IWT’s and the material that is used to contruct them causes more problem. The only thing that is harmless isthe wind but to utilize it causes a lot of material which is not alays evniromentally friendly.

  25. Rightie says:

    We should all be panicking at the push back from the public whenever anyone tries to develop something new that will address climate change. It may not be a perfect attempt but developing the wind energy industry s a start.

    Somehow, somewhere we need to admit we have a problem. If you cannot accept this new technology, then please, what DO you suggest to address climate change and reduction in the use of fossil fuels?

  26. Dan Wrightman says:

    This is funny. Mike Barnard, the wind industry cheerleader has basically repeated the same comment 3 times this morning, ending each comment with a plea to not give more money to Eric Gillespie. Furthermore the Pembina Institute, CANWEA and WPD have found it necessary to issue media releases downplaying the significance of this court ruling. Is the wind industry starting to panic?

  27. Mike Barnard says:

    Gillespie completely misrepresented being kicked out of court as a significant victory in his immediate press release and in his public statements. Anti-wind lobbyist organizations touted his press release without qualm, and usually with added hyberbole. A newspaper article or two accepted Gillespie’s inversion of the truth at face value.

    The people of Prince Edward County should think carefully before providing more money to a lawyer who portrays losing as winning, and who is charging large fees for failed suits.

    http://www.pembina.org/blog/714

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