Environmental Review Tribunal dismisses charter challenge

The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) has dismissed a constitutional challenge of the Renewable Energy Act (REA).

Dennis Sanford, president of Wind Resistance Melancthon, and the citizen’s group, Conserving our Rural Environment (CORE), claimed the concerns of residents raised during the REA process was ignored by decision makers at the Ministry of Environment (MOE).

The ERT agreed to hear their constitutional challenge in Shelburne in August.

Following a lengthy hearing, the tribunal dismissed the challenge in a decision released on Dec. 23.

According to the tribunal, no evidence was presented that proves the REA violates the appellants right to security under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Annoyance per se has not been proven to be a health effect, and is too vague a concept to be considered serious harm so as to engage s. 7 of the Charter,” the tribunal said in its decision.

“The constitutional challenge therefore fails on the evidence.”

The tribunal also heard arguments that Dufferin Wind Power Inc.’s wind farm in Melancthon would damage soil, groundwater and wildlife as well as the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

Dufferin Wind has gained approval from the province to construct a 99 MW wind farm in Melancthon and run a 230 kV transmission line from the wind farm to Amaranth.

The tribunal found no evidence to support claims of damage to animals or the environment.

“The Tribunal finds that the Appellants have not established that engaging in the Project as approved will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment,” the decision states.

The complainants argued human health is impacted by wind turbines despite a 550 metre set back from homes and 40 dBA noise limit imposed by the province.

“The Tribunal heard extensive evidence on this issue, and, as well, extensive written submissions from the parties numbering several hundred pages,” the written decision explained.

Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver also appeared before the tribunal and testified the municipality wants to see Dufferin Wind’s transmission line buried.

MacIver told the tribunal the power line would impact human health and limit use of the recreational trail due to safety concerns.

The tribunal disagreed with both arguments.

“The Appellants have not established that engaging in the Project in accordance with the REA will cause serious harm to human health,” the decision said.