The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador issued notice Thursday that Grieg NL’s salmon aquaculture project will go through an environmental assessment, with the requirement for a detailed environmental impact statement (EIS).
The EIS is a multi-faceted, costly piece of work for any proponent. It is not required for every project.
Grieg NL’s salmon aquaculture project in Marystown and Placentia Bay previously did not have to complete one. Without one, the proposed development was still released by government from further environmental assessment. However, the decision to release the project was successfully challenged in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court by the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
The case is still under appeal, but Environment Minister Eddie Joyce said Grieg NL is still interested in the salmon farming development it has proposed.
Joyce’s latest decision gives the company the option of moving toward its goal of eventually acting on its plans. If it completes the process, including an EIS, the project should be able to proceed.
But the review works comes first.
“We’ve always said we had to strike a balance between the environment and economic benefit on it,” Joyce told reporters outside the House of Assembly, adding the government’s belief had been that the environment could be protected under the process originally pursued, given the regulatory requirements in place.
Joyce said clarity is still needed for the province on aquaculture and so the appeal of the legal case is continuing. The outcome of the case may have implications for interpretation of the Environmental Protection Act.
But will Grieg NL pay the costs to begin a new review and complete an EIS in the meantime?
“Grieg is committed to this project. Grieg is very committed to this project,” Joyce said.
The company can also walk away at any point and re-apply with its project plans at a later date.
Grieg NL issued a statement saying it did not see it as necessary, but would begin work on the EIS immediately “as a prudent business step.”
The next step in the review process is a 120-day window wherein the province will settle on specific parameters for the review and the details to be covered in the EIS submission by the company.
“We are very conscious of the importance of our project to the people of the Placentia Bay specifically and to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador in general,” Grieg has stated. “We will work with the provincial environmental department and its appointed (review) committee to pursue this process expediently in parallel to the court proceedings.”
Public meetings are expected in the coming weeks.