Toronto

Ont. wind turbines challenged in court

Ontario's energy minister may have failed to properly consider how industrial wind turbines affect health, a Toronto divisional court heard Monday.

Lawsuit claims province failed to consider health effects

Ontario's energy minister may have failed to properly consider how industrial wind turbines affect health, a Toronto divisional court heard Monday.

Ian Hanna, 56, a resident of Prince Edward County, is claiming the province did not consult qualified medical experts before allowing the turbines to go up 550 metres from any home.

"The government simply is not looking at the medical implications on human health," Eric Gillespie, the lawyer representing Hanna, told court.

Gillespie said that at the time the 550-metre rule was put in place, there was "scientific uncertainty" about the health effects of turbines.

The minister should have either halted development plans until there was concrete scientific evidence or consulted medical professionals on what distance they would be comfortable with in light of the uncertainty.

Gillespie said that although the ministry did consult acoustical engineering experts and weighed a number of issues, there is no evidence that health implications were considered.

"You must have someone who is properly qualified to make that decision," he said. 

Complaints of noise, headaches

The Society for Wind Vigilance says some people living near Ontario's 700 turbines report sleep problems, stress, headaches and difficulty concentrating because of the noise.

Energy Minister Brad Duguid has said Ontario's chief medical officer of health told him there is no credible evidence to suggest the turbines negatively affect health.

Duguid pointed to the proven health risks associated with burning coal to produce electricity.

Moving away from coal will significantly reduce respiratory illness, he added.

The hearing is to continue on Tuesday.