The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association is challenging the provincial government’s decision to allow deployment of two tidal turbines in the Minas Passage near Parrsboro, N.S.
The Association filed a formal application with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court yesterday requesting a judicial order to set aside or quash last month’s decision by Margaret Miller, the provincial environment minister, authorizing installation of the turbines.
On June 20, Miller’s department issued a news release in which she is quoted as saying: “If we are to advance our collective knowledge of the turbines’ impact on our fish and marine mammals, demonstration turbines need to be in the water.”
However, in its court application, the fisherman’s association says Miller failed to consider evidence that the turbines may harm ocean wildlife species. It also makes a number of other claims including:
- there is no adequate monitoring program in place to assess the cumulative effects of the turbines
- the minister failed to consider historical data as well as data from fishermen and weir operators about species located at or near the test site
- she disregarded environmental concerns expressed by the public, aboriginal people as well as the fishermen themselves and,
- the minister failed to follow the Nova Scotia Environment Act’s requirement to apply the precautionary principle and to maintain environmental protection as essential to the integrity of ecosystems.
David Coles, the Dartmouth lawyer who filed the application on behalf of the fishermen, says the association has met with Cape Sharp Tidal, the company that plans to install two, 2MW turbines sometime this year.
Coles adds the fishermen are hoping to reach agreement with the company on environmental and economic issues without having to go to court, but had to file their application now to meet the required deadline for challenging the minister’s decision.
If the court application does go forward, the next step will happen on August 25th when a judge is expected to sort out procedural matters and set a date for a hearing.
Sarah Dawson, who speaks for Cape Sharp Tidal, said in an e-mail that the company does not comment on legal matters. She added that Cape Sharp is continuing to consult with people concerned about the turbines and has no timeline on when the first turbine might be going into the water.
The five-storey, 1,000 tonne machine is at a pier in Halifax Harbour as preparations continue for its deployment in the Minas Passage.
To read the Fisherman’s Association NS Supreme Court application and the environmental monitoring conditions imposed on the Cape Sharp Tidal project click, Amended Notice of Application.