To what extent does the government have to follow the precautionary principle when it enacts environmental legislation? That’s a key issue at the heart of the challenge to Ontario’s rules on wind turbines that’s set for a hearing before the Divisional Court today.
The matter, Hanna v. Attorney General for Ontario, seeks to declare four regulations under the Environmental Protection Act dealing with invalid. They allow facilities to come within 550 metres of the nearest home.
Ian Hanna, a property owner from Prince Edward County, Ont., argues the rules don’t comply with s. 11 of the Environmental Bill of Rights, which requires the minister of the environment to “take every reasonable step to ensure that the ministry statement of environmental values is considered whenever decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the ministry.” That statement of environmental values notes 10 principles, including that the ministry “uses a precautionary, science-based approach in its decision-making to protect human health and the environment.”