Sunday, October 17, 2021

Province gives conditional approval to Marine Drive realignment

Pieridae says all ministerial terms will be met

  • May 5 2021
  • By Corey LeBlanc    

GOLDBORO – Pieridae Energy Ltd. has received conditional approval for its proposed realignment of Marine Drive (Highway 316) for its planned Goldboro LNG project.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Keith Irving released his decision on the environmental assessment application on April 29.

“We just received the approval and we are confident all terms and conditions will be met,” James Millar, Pieridae Energy Ltd. director external relations, said in a May 3 email to The Journal.

He described word of the approval as a “piece of positive news.”

“This realignment is necessary for construction of the LNG plant, jetty and marine offloading facility,” Millar added.

As part of its ongoing effort to build the Goldboro LNG project, the Calgary-based company applied to make changes to approximately 3.5 kilometres of the roadway to reach its project site in the Goldboro Industrial Park.

Once construction is completed on the six-kilometre, two-lane public road, it would be turned over to the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Active Transit, which will own and operate it.

Construction for the realignment is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021. The company must start work on the highway changes within two years of the approval issued, unless they receive a written extension from the minister.

The outline submitted for environmental assessment was a modified one. The company made changes to its original plan after residents raised concerns during a public feedback process, particularly with how the roadway would bypass some communities and have an effect on businesses.

Before starting the realignment, Pieridae must submit several plans, including one covering surface water monitoring and management, along with wetland management and monitoring.

Under the heading ‘Air Quality and Noise,’ the minister’s decision indicated the company – prior to starting construction – must submit a dust suppression plan, which must receive approval from the department.

As part of the required public engagement component, the company must establish a complaint resolution plan for receiving and responding to complaints, including a reporting system that records and documents steps taken to discover the cause, rectify the situation and prevent something similar from occurring.

There were 26 submissions – including 21 ‘anonymous’ ones – that came from the ‘public’ regarding the highway realignment proposal.

An email from the Kwilmu’kw Maw-Klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO) of the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative outlined the need for a plan for the areas of the realignment that cross areas inhabited by deer. Noting the supporting documents for the application indicate the roadway would cross 32 wetlands and eight water courses, KMKNO asked when there would be a fisheries authorization and/or letter of advice from Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Tourism Guysborough County Association made some recommendations, including that the realignment “does not show a massive industrial site,” suggesting the creation of a tree buffer zone.

“We are encouraged that Pieridae committed to the construction of a visitor information center in their application and wouId be happy to work with them on its design,” the association’s submission also said.

There was also a multi-page submission to the provincial department from the Ecology Action Centre, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance and Sierra Club Canada Foundation. Those three organizations opposed the proposed multi-billion initiative, including the road highway realignment plan.

“The proposed Goldboro LNG project is of great concern to our organization and its members because of its serious and adverse impacts on GHG emissions, wildlife (including marine mammals and seabirds), coastal habitats, and its societal and justice implications, particularly on Indigenous women, of constructing large ‘man camps,’” the Sierra Club Canada Foundation wrote in the opposition submission.

They also spelled out the ‘climate impacts’ they anticipate with the broader project, questioning how Nova Scotia could reach its goal of net-zero [emissions] by 2050, with this proposed energy project operating.

“Understandably, the larger Goldboro LNG project is not directly within the scope of the current Environmental Assessment regarding highway realignment. However, approval of this related highway project is essential to enable the larger project as currently designed,” their submission said.

“Each successive component furthers the pathway for the larger project, which combined with incomplete information on the latest trends of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions would effectively set emission achievements in Nova Scotia back by half a decade and deepen the climate crisis.”

The submissions labelled ‘anonymous,’ which included primarily local residents, offered a mix of support for the realignment – and the proposed project, in general – and opposition that pointed to the potential adverse environmental effects.

The multi-billion Goldboro LNG project proposed would include a natural gas liquefaction plant, along with facilities for the storage and export of liquified natural gas (LNG), including a marine jetty for loading. The company expects the facility will produce approximately 10 million metric tons of LNG annually, with an on-site storage capacity of 690,000 cubic metres.

The complex, which will target markets in Europe, South America and Asia, is to be constructed in the Goldboro Industrial Park, adjacent to the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline – a 1,400-kilometre transmission system that carries natural gas between developments in Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.

“This is a further step forward in progressing Goldboro LNG, which will be a net zero project by 2050 that supports the global transition to a lower carbon economy,” Millar said, in commenting further on the conditional approval of the highway realignment.

“Our project also advances reconciliation with the Mi’kmaq in a meaningful way, and the multi-billion-dollar initiative, one of the largest COVID recovery project’s in Nova Scotia’s history, will put thousands to work during construction and for decades of operations.”