The J.D. Irving project was registered for an Environmental Impact Assessment with the Department of Environment on February 8, 2011. It was released from this EIA process on April 8, 2011. In the letter, the Department of Environment indicates that the proposed project “no longer requires registration under the EIA Regulation, as the GeoNB [Regulated Wetlands Map] map does not currently identify wetlands located on Freehold properties. The EIA registration fee will be refunded…”.
“Since the GeoNB map doesn’t map wetlands on the industrial Freehold lands of New Brunswick, Minister Blaney has in effect given the forestry companies who own that land, carte blanche to destroy wetlands and ignore buffer requirements specified by regulation in the Clean Water Act,” Said David Coon, Executive Director for CCNB Action. “She must issue an immediate clarification that if a wetland doesn’t appear on her map the law must still be obeyed,” Said Coon.
The Clean Water Act requires proponents that intend to encroach on wetland buffers or damage wetlands larger than 1 ha in area to apply for a permit from the Department of Environment. If the Wetlands are larger than 2 ha, the proposed activity must be registered for Environmental Review under the Clean Environment Act.
Last week, CCNB Action released evidence that the Minister of Environment had given developers 16 properties containing confirmed wetlands permission to abandon any regulatory processes relating to wetlands protection because the wetlands do not appear on the Province’s Regulated Wetland Map.
Freehold land makes up 22% of the total land base of the province or close to 1.5 million hectares.
“This represents a huge portion of our wetlands that are completely free to be filled in, no questions asked”, says Stephanie Merrill, CCNB Action’s Freshwater Protection Program Coordinator. “How can the minister pretend that these wetlands on industrial freehold land don’t exist?” she asks.
CCNB Action believes she can’t, according to the Clean Water Act.