January 29, 2015 10:20 pm

WATCH: Controversial Lavington pellet plant moves forward as critics appeal

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COLDSTREAM – Plans for a controversial pellet plant in Lavington seem to be moving ahead. One of the companies behind the project, Pinnacle Renewable Energy, says the plan is to start moving soil next week to prepare for construction.

The plant is expected to use sawdust and shavings from the nearby Tolko sawmill. However, its planned location near an elementary school is raising concerns, particularly about air quality.

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Now critics of the project are appealing a provincial permit for the plant and are pushing Coldstream’s council to take action. In a letter to the mayor, a group of citizens asked Coldstream to not issue a building permit until provincial air quality objectives are guaranteed to be met.

“We were asking council just to take a deep breath hold off on any further approvals. Allow our appeal which we have made to the Environmental Appeal Board to go through,” says Tom Coape-Arnold, a resident against the project.

He points out that in August council passed a motion saying they would not support a permit if Ministry of Environment consultation reports showed the new emissions wouldn’t meet provincial air quality objectives.

“We’ve concluded there isn’t sound scientific evidence that provincial air quality objectives will be met,” says Coape-Arnold.

However, council won’t be sending a letter of support for the appeal. Coldstream mayor Jim Garlick says the project has met provincial air quality objectives. He’s leaving it to the Ministry of Environment to determine whether the science is sound.

“We’ve just decided we are not getting in the way of that process….They are the experts in this and they’ll be carrying out that determination.”

Garlick says they have to treat all applications equally. He argues people with air quality concerns should take them to the ministry.

“We don’t pick and choose how we treat applicants there has got to be some level playing field here and fairness to everyone,” he says.

Both Pinnacle Renewable Energy and the Ministry of Environment have argued the project will actually improve local air quality because of upgrades to the nearby Tolko mill that are tied in to the project.

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