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Decision on Ian Hanna case ‘soon’

Prince Edward County’s Ian Hanna had his day in court Monday as his application for a judicial review of wind turbine setback distances, under the Green Energy Act Regulations, was considered at Ontario Divisional Court.
The County’s Gary Mooney, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Prince Edward County, was in the court room. This is his report:

The Ian Hanna legal challenge regarding the human health impacts of wind turbine setbacks under the Green Energy Act moved forward yesterday at Ontario Divisional Court in Toronto.  Hanna was represented by Toronto environmental lawyer Eric Gillespie.

Courtroom Number 3 at Osgoode Hall was filled to capacity as the panel of three judges, including the Associate Chief Justice, took their places.  More than a dozen County residents, the majority being members of the CCSAGE (County Coalition for Safe and Approprite Green Energy) Steering Committee, attended to show their support.

Although they had previously been advised of the hearing, no members of PEC council attended, but one local politician made the effort  – Treat Hull, the local candidate for the Green Party of Ontario.

The first question from the panel was why Hanna had brought the case to their court, rather than to an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), which is the appeal body for projects subject to the Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) process.

Gillespie explained that:
·         The case relates to actions by the Minister of the Environment in creating the Regulations under the GEA;
·         The scope is not limited to one specific project, but includes all new projects in Ontario; and
·         The issue is the failure of the Ministry to respect the Precautionary Principle regarding harm to human health, which involves a lesser standard of proof than that of the REA process.

Sara Blake, the lawyer representing the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), pushed hard for diversion of the case to an ERT.  After more than an hour of questions and answers, the panel decided to hear the case.

Over the next few hours, Gillespie summarized Hanna’s position and answered questions from the panel.  His main argument was that the Ministry had not properly considered the human health issue.

Although the Ministry was on notice from public hearings that health was an issue, and had searched out the available literature on the topic, Gillespie argued that no medical expert had been engaged to review the literature and provide advice to the Minister and that, therefore, the health issue had not been properly considered.

In her summary of the MOE’s position, Blake argued that the Precautionary Principle does not apply in Ontario and that the only requirement is to base decisions on “precautionary science-based evidence.”  She also argued that the Minister has the freedom to decide what is proper consideration and that, even if he does not meet his own criteria, there is no recourse available through the courts.

In its intervention, CanWEA made no significant additional contribution to the case.

Gillespie had the opportunity to speak last, and was effective in his rebuttal of the arguments advanced by Blake, including the applicability of the Precautionary Principle.

Blake proposed disqualification of Hanna’s key medical expert, County resident Dr. Robert McMurtry, and two other doctors from the U.K. and the U.S., respectively, on grounds that they are not professionally qualified to opine on the subject and are anti-wind advocates rather than impartial experts.  The panel rejected this proposal out-of-hand.

At the end of the hearing, which was completed in one day rather than the scheduled two days, the president of the panel concluded by saying that they had been given lots of information to consider and that a decision could be expected “soon”.

Commenting on the day’s proceedings, Ian Hanna said, “In my opinion, we could not be in a better position or have a better chance of success.  I thought that Eric [Gillespie] did a masterful job at all levels.”

County residents and others who helped to get the Ian Hanna legal challenge into court through their generous donations can take pride in their support of this initiative, which aims to protect the health of all residents of rural Ontario.

Gary Mooney
RR 2 Consecon

Judicial review set for Monday

County resident Ian Hanna is about to have his day in court, and the outcome may benefit rural residents throughout Ontario.  His application for a judicial review of wind turbine setback distances under the Green Energy Act Regulations will be considered by a panel of three Ontario Divisional Court judges on January 24-25 at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.  Their decision is expected by the end of April.

Hanna contends that the government failed to comply with the Precautionary Principle, as it is required to do, when it established the GEA Regulations.  The Precautionary Principle requires that, in situations where there is scientific uncertainty about environmental or human health effects of a proposed action, the proponent should not proceed until the uncertainty is satisfactorily resolved.

Hanna’s expert witnesses are Dr. Robert McMurtry, who is also a County resident, Dr. Chris Hanning, a U.K. specialist in sleep disorders and Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, a U.S. doctor who conducted the first epidemiological study of wind turbines vs human health.

The government’s position seems to be that it prescribed, and followed, a process for approval of the Regulations, and that health issues are irrelevant.  CanWEA, the wind energy industry trade association, will make a brief presentation, presumably to deny that  wind turbines cause adverse health effects.

This is a David versus Goliath situation – one individual taking on the Ontario government.  However, Hanna does not have to prove adverse effects on health, only that there is scientific uncertainty about such effects.  He is ably represented by Eric Gillespie, a Toronto-based lawyer with considerable experience and success in environmental lawsuits.

The supervising judge has warned CanWEA members that, if Hanna is successful, all approvals of wind energy projects in Ontario will be halted for an indeterminate period of time — presumably until proper health studies are completed and safe setback distances are established.

The Hanna legal challenge has been funded through the efforts of APPEC, the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County and CCSAGE, the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy.  To date, more than $200,000 of the $250,000 target has been raised from donations, mostly by County residents, but also through Wind Concerns Ontario, a province-wide organization of more than 50 citizens’ groups.

If the legal challenge is successful, Ian Hanna, assisted by APPEC, CCSAGE and WCO, will have achieved what nobody else has been able to do: compel the Ontario government to give appropriate attention to the adverse effects of wind turbines on human health.

For a video of Eric Gillespie explaining the Hanna legal challenge, see

Gary Mooney

RR2 Consecon

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Pat Warden says:

    If the turbine companies claim their projects do not devalue properties, then why did the Realestate Board of Ontario find it necessary to resently include, as part of rural home sales contracts, a new addition asking that sellers disclose knowledge of any wind turbines that are to be constructed in the area of the home being sold? We did research and found that a 30-40% drop in property values can occur when turbines go up nearby. All residents should be compensated for their losses by the government and/or the turbine companies who profit from these projects that ruin rural Ontario forever and cause homeowners financial devestation. Thou shault NOT steal!!

  2. Treat Hull says:

    As one of many County residents who went to Toronto on Monday to listen to the hearing in person, the hearing reinforced my belief that the arrogant and contemptuous attitude of the McGuinty government is setting back –not advancing—the cause of responsible renewable energy.

    The hearing confirmed that the Minister was aware of unresolved health concerns at the time when setbacks were established for large-scale turbines, but instead of investigating citizen’s concerns, the government has chosen to consistently brand its critics as self-serving NIMBY types. If the government had acted responsively and started a health study when the concern was initially raised, the issue would be on the way to resolution based on scientific evidence.

    As the government itself has acknowledged, there is a surplus of generation capacity in the province in the short run. The government should show some respect for its citizens and take the time to address the concerns which have been raised.

    Treat Hull
    Green Party of Ontario
    Candidate for MPP, Prince Edward-Hastings
    Provincial Energy Critic

  3. Bill Wightman says:

    Last May the Toronto SUN reported IESO had answered afreedom of information request saaying, in part, that Ontario had paid NY State as much as $52 per megawatt hour to take power from our overloaded grid.

    In her column yesterday (Jan. 26) was commenting on thisunfortunate reality. She asked, rhetorically, “if you have to pay people to take excess juice why would you keep on generating the really expensive stuff like wind?”

    Why indeed? Indeed, why but the expensive stuff in the first place since it doesn’t even accomplish the avowed intention of permitting closure of the coal fired plants in Denmark, Germany or here?

  4. Lori Smith says:

    Here’s the link to the article in the Whig referenced by Doris

  5. Doris Lane says:

    Please read Gary Mooney’s latest article at the top of this page and also look at

    Aren’t we all glad that there is so electricity that we have to pay other provinces and countries to take it off our hands while our electric bill keeps going up and up.

  6. Lori Smith says:

    From Today’s (Wed Jan 26th) Globe and Mail…

    In court, Dalton McGuinty’s government is defending its authority to put up wind turbines around Ontario. At Queen’s Park, it’s under pressure to release financial details of its controversial multibillion-dollar agreement with South Korea’s Samsung Group to develop wind and solar power.

    The rationale behind the Samsung agreement remains a mystery. The government undercut its own “feed-in-tariff” program, which hands out relatively small contracts to domestic companies, by signing a very large one with a foreign company.

    Most likely, Mr. Smitherman wanted a big deliverable before he left provincial politics. But why the Premier’s office went ahead with it, amid objections from cabinet, has never been fully explained. And the government’s reluctance to release the terms of the agreement has fuelled speculation about what kind of sweetheart deal it offered.

    – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    (Dare we think kick backs, campaign contributions?) Thank goodness after messing up our rural hospitals and then ramming through the GEA, Smitherman left Queen’s Park to run for TO’s mayor – luckily for them a job he didn’t get!)

  7. Karen Smith says:

    It’s my understanding that the ON gov’t made a contract with a certain overseas wind turbine company and so are just looking for places to erect them so as to honour the contracts. True or not true?

  8. Lori Smith says:

    This government does not care about the health and wellness of the rural residents of Ontario. Look what they’re doing to our hospital! What’s next to the list for McQuinty to dismantle in rural Ontario?

  9. Doris Lane says:

    Jim if you check the article closely you will see it is written by Gary Mooney and was not submitted by the Administrator, it is a letter to the editor and they always have one issue. Mr. Hanna is to be commended for his efforts in this regard and believe me they are many. He has spent a great deal of his own time and money on this topic because he believes that is the right thing to do. You do not put something in place that has not been proven to be safe to all creatures both human and animal.
    By using expert witnesses he is bringing a case before the public using the precautionnary principle. Do we not all need to take precautions when we are attempting to use something that is new and untested?

  10. Jim Hair says:

    That’s quite an introduction to the article. So much for unbiased reporting.

  11. Chris Willson says:

    Agree — go green for the future generations. Put the turbines where we can’t see ’em (say on the south coast of the County) or out in the lake (but big bucks to do this).

    But bring ’em on!

  12. Lori Smith says:

    Yes, too much power – read the Star and the Globe stories that tell how this excess power (from Wind & solar) is being bought by Hydro One at premium prices and is being sold off at discounted prices to NewYork state.

    I’m not sure how much the landowners will actually benefit, other, than by purely monetary means. The issue pits neighbour against neighbour, Guilt if their neighbours become ill (unless they have no conscience), locked into a lease agreement where they literally have handed over control of their property for min 20 years. Can’t sell, can’t build, can’t divide without the Wind Co’s permission. Possible destruction of important habitat for wildlife and some would argue the defacement of the scenery and pleasure of others.

    Look at the problems the Fields on West Lake have had from basically one disgruntled neighbour. A WInd Turbine is much larger and therefore has a greater impact on more people around. If we keep the old noise by-law, just think of the complaints the neighbours could file against the landowner. Sorry, in my books money alone is not worth loosing friends & neighbours, dividing the community and loss of control over my own property.

  13. Hazel says:

    Too much power?! For how long? And from where? Ontario hasn’t closed all its coal powered plants yet.

  14. M Anderson says:

    If you would like to donate to help support this legal fund, details here:

  15. M Anderson says:

    Best thoughts are with Ian and Eric from all across Ontario! Stop the insanity.

  16. Doris Lane says:

    The only residents that would benefit if turbines go in are the ones renting their land to the turbine companies. There is no need for more electricity at this time. We have a stand by facility at Lennox Generation which is hardly ever used only when we needed more power and yet the government went ahead with wind and solar.
    Why?? because they wanted to make Ontario the largest green energy province in Canada. But I ask is it really green.
    The energy produced by wind and solar is too expensive and will raise hydro bills to people who can ill afford it.

  17. Chris Willson says:

    re: “and the outcome may benefit rural residents throughout Ontario”

    How is that an objective statement???? Did you ever stop and think that some residents might benefit if the turbines DO go in??

  18. Chris Keen says:

    If you have not done so,I urge Countylive readers to find a copy of this week’s Picton Gazette and read Terry Sprague’s informative and eloquent article about the south shore of the County. I’m sure you’ll agree, when you’ve read what Terry has to say, that to allow anyone to disturb this ecological “gem” is criminal. Not in OUR back yard – absolutely!

    Related to this is an article in yesterday’s Toronto Star on-line which is also worth a look!–ontario-s-new-dilemma-too-much-power?bn=1#article

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