POLITICS

Maritime Link project gets approval following provincial environmental reviews

06/21/2013 12:02 EDT | Updated 08/21/2013 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's environment minister says the Maritime Link project poses little risk to wildlife, vegetation and recreational activities.

Sterling Belliveau, in a statement released Friday, said the determination was made following a review of the plan to establish a subsea cable to transmit electricity from the southwest coast Newfoundland to the province.

The department said there will be little impact because much of the infrastructure already exists or can be built on existing corridors.

But Belliveau says there are conditions on the province's environmental approval, such as establishing a fisheries advisory committee that will monitor the project's impact on fish, shellfish, marine birds and mammals.

The province began its environmental assessment process in January.

Meanwhile, the province is still waiting for a decision from the Utility and Review Board, which is looking at whether the Maritime Link project is the lowest-cost option for Nova Scotians. It will announce a decision in late July.

In St. John's, the Newfoundland and Labrador government issued a statement Friday saying a review of an environmental assessment submitted in January determined the document complies with the Environmental Protection Act and requires no further work.

"The project can now proceed ... and is released from further environmental assessment," the statement said.

However, the government said the project will be subject to certain conditions, including a requirement to prepare an environmental monitoring plan that will, among other things, measure the impact on woodland caribou and archaeological resources.

As well, the government said the project's proponent, Emera Newfoundland and Labrador, is required to provide a benefits agreement that must be approved by the minister of natural resources.

And before construction can begin, the company must also submit an environmental protection plan, which is subject to approval by the environment minister.

As for the transmission link between Labrador and Newfoundland, the provincial government said the environment minister has informed Crown-owned Nalcor Energy that the project has been released from further environmental assessment.

The project is subject to a number of conditions, most of which are similar to the ones imposed on the Maritime Link project.