Environment Department and gov’t must take action on environmental assessment

Opinion
Pictou-Advocate-opinion

To the Editor:

As an MLA and NDP Spokesperson for Environment, I am deeply concerned about the lack of communication and community engagement from the Department of Environment regarding Northern Pulp’s plans to deal with effluent from the mill. Community groups, businesses, tourism operators, fishers and other residents have raised concerns about the plan to pump effluent into the Northumberland Strait. Even last week in Public Accounts the deputy minister of Fisheries & Aquaculture was unable to answer my questions, so these concerns remain unaddressed.

Like many others, I’ve read the media reports about Truro author Joan Baxter’s book-signing of “The Mill” being cancelled at Coles in New Glasgow. As well, the Pictou Lodge has lost business because of their manager’s statements about Northern Pulp’s plans for the effluent pipe. The Atlantic Fisherman’s Association is also involved as they, too, fear the negative effects of pulp effluent being piped directly into the Northumberland Strait, which they say could affect Nova Scotia’s multimillion dollar fishing industry and brand. These examples are a clear indication that leadership and communication are required from the Environment Department.

Our NDP Caucus believes that communities need to be involved in the decision-making process for projects that will affect the air, water and land where they live. That’s why we proposed an Environmental Bill of Rights. The current situation in Pictou County is a prime example of the need for a clear and thorough process that would provide residents throughout Nova Scotia the opportunity to have a say in how the natural environment is managed in a sustainable fashion.

I recently sent a letter to Environment Minister Iain Rankin asking him how the Department of the Environment plans to address the concerns raised by people in Pictou County. I hope that the Minister and the rest of the Liberal government will take action to make significant changes in the environmental assessment and public consultation processes to avoid similar situations in the future.

Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River

NDP Spokesperson for Environment

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