Petrolia lawyer urges landowners to read the fine print of wind leases

Heather Wright Photo

Heather Wright Photo

Wallace Lang has a warning for landowners considering signing leases for wind turbines; the people you’re dealing with are not amateurs.

Lang, a Petrolia based lawyer, has seen a number of the leases which have been circulating in the community since three wind energy companies began trying to find landowners willing to host the industrial turbines on their land. The three projects could mean 51 industrial turbines dotting the rural landscape around central Lambton.

Lang told about 250 at a community meeting in Oil Springs recently many landowners are presented with two contracts, an option to lease with a lease attached to it. “By signing the option, you’ve actually signed the lease,” he says. Lang says the use of an option to lease makes the idea more “sale-able” because it doesn’t sound permanent.  In fact, he says, the options can lock landowners in for as much as 57 years.

Lang says the leases often offer landowners up to $1,000 to hire a lawyer to look at the lease “so you can’t say I didn’t know what I signed…I didn’t know it was a lease as well.”

And he says there are items which will stop landowners from doing what they want with their land. “The leases place restrictions on what you can do to your property…typically; you cannot build a structure or plant trees.”

And Lang says when the lifespan of the industrial turbines is over, the farmers will be left with some of the debris. “They will remove the equipment above the ground but leave behind the concrete base.”

Lang urged people in the room to read through the entire lease themselves as well as getting a lawyer to give them advice. And Lang added “It’s not hypocritical to change your mind…you may have more facts now.”

– Heather Wright