POLITICS
12/07/2011 10:28 EST | Updated 02/06/2012 05:12 EST

RCMP won't charge energy firm after New Brunswick government alleges violations

FREDERICTON - The RCMP has dismissed a complaint from the New Brunswick government alleging an energy company broke provincial legislation when it conducted seismic testing without municipal permission.

The Mounties announced Wednesday they would not lay charges against Calgary-based Windsor Energy, one month after the province's natural resources minister said he referred the matter to the police "to protect the people of New Brunswick."

RCMP Sgt. Jean Devost declined to say why investigators would not press charges, referring such questions to the Natural Resources Department. A spokesman for the department said investigators concluded there were no reasonable and probable grounds for charges.

Opposition Liberal Leader Victor Boudreau said the dismissal of the Tory government's complaint shows that the interests of people and municipalities aren't placed above those of energy companies exploring for shale gas, despite the government's claims to the contrary.

"Now we find out that with a simple violation, they can't even charge a company," Boudreau told the legislature.

"They're going to rap the company on the knuckles and tell them not to do it again."

When he referred the matter to the RCMP last month, Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said an investigation by his department found that on Oct. 17, Windsor Energy carried out geophysical testing using truck-mounted vibration equipment along a highway inside the boundaries of Sussex without municipal permission.

At the time, Northrup accused Windsor Energy of violating regulations under the province's Oil and Natural Gas Act