Judge denies fishermen’s request to block tidal turbines

N.S. Supreme Court judge Jamie Campbell

N.S. Supreme Court Judge Jamie Campbell

Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. is free to deploy two turbines this fall in the Minas Passage, near Parrsboro.

In a decision released today, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge rejected an application from the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association asking him to keep the turbines out of the water until the fishermen can present their full case against them in February.

Mr. Justice Jamie Campbell says there’s no evidence the turbines would cause irreparable harm between now and then and therefore, there’s no reason to block their deployment.

Campbell notes that he weighed expert reports from Michael Dadswell and Trevor Avery, two scientists from Acadia University who oppose installation of the turbines until more baseline studies are conducted on marine life in the area.

“The reports of Dr. Dadswell and Dr. Avery do not indicate that over the period from October to February there would be significant damage to commercial fish stock that would impact the livelihood of the members of the [Fisherman’s] Association,” the ruling says.

The decision also states that the fisherman’s association “has not shown that the temporary installation of the turbines would prevent the determination of baseline data to be used in assessing environmental impacts.”

Serious concerns

“The concern about the environment in the Bay of Fundy has to be taken very seriously,” the judge says adding, “The potential implications of getting this wrong are massive. There are potentially catastrophic consequences.”

But he also suggests the provincial environment minister acted reasonably in June when she approved installation of the two turbines on the grounds that testing them would establish whether they have detrimental effects on the environment.

“Scientists may differ on the proper approach to testing but this was not in any sense a rolling of the dice,” the judge says.

“There have been extensive studies. The deployment of the turbines with ongoing monitoring of their effects is part of the process of study and assessment…What is involved here…is a test site for which there have been safeguards put in place. The turbines can be removed during the 12 hour course of a single tidal cycle.”

Cape Sharp getting ready

A statement from Cape Sharp Tidal indicates the company is moving ahead with plans for deploying the turbines this fall:

“We’re glad to have this behind us and look forward to continuing our deployment plans,” the Cape Sharp statement says.

“A date has not been finalized, although final preparations are underway. We’ll be sure to communicate a timeline and details when those plans are firm.”

Both of the Cape Sharp turbines are now in the harbour at Saint John, N.B.

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 1 and 2 to challenge the environment minister’s decision to approve installation of the two turbines.

To read today’s court decision click here.

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