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Bay of Fundy fishermen lose bid to halt tidal power plan pending judicial review

Workers head past a turbine for the Cape Sharp Tidal project at the Pictou Shipyard in Pictou, N.S., on Thursday, May 19, 2016. The need for more consultation and permits has temporarily pulled the plug on plans to install the first of two towering turbines designed by Cape Sharp Tidal to harness the power of the Bay of Fundy.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan.
Workers head past a turbine for the Cape Sharp Tidal project at the Pictou Shipyard in Pictou, N.S., on Thursday, May 19, 2016. The need for more consultation and permits has temporarily pulled the plug on plans to install the first of two towering turbines designed by Cape Sharp Tidal to harness the power of the Bay of Fundy.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has denied an application to halt the testing of electricity-generating tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy.

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishereman’s Association wanted the court to stop Cape Sharp Tidal‘s plan to test two turbines designed to assess the effectiveness of producing electricity from the tidal forces of the bay.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia fishermen head to court to stop Bay of Fundy tidal power project

The group sought a stay of the testing in the Minas Passage area of the bay, pending a February 2017 Supreme Court review Department of Environment’s decision to approve the project.

The fisherman’s association argued that if the testing program went ahead before the judicial review, it could cause irreparable harm to the environment and ruin any chance of establishing a baseline study of the undersea environment. They hoped to get a scientific “before and after” look at the area where the turbines will be located.

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READ MORE: Opponents of Bay of Fundy tidal power project ask judge to suspend testing

Scientific arguments presented on behalf of the Cape Sharp Tidal Venture company and Fundy Ocean Research Centre of Energy argued the test turbines would have little impact on the Bay of Fundy.

In the end, Justice Jamie Campbell said the fisherman’s association failed to prove irreparable harm would be caused by the testing, and dismissed the application.

The judge said the “adaptive management approach” to monitor the potential impacts of the turbines seems like “a practical response to uncertainty.”

Justice Campbell said in a written decision released Tuesday the fisherman’s association failed to show how the deployment of the turbines now would preclude future testing of the area.

READ MORE: Halifax firm to test floating turbine in Bay of Fundy next year

But Tuesday’s written decision holds the door slightly open for the judicial review — Justice Campbell noted in his decision that the fisherman’s association has shown there is an issue to be argued during the judicial review.

The five-storey turbines have not yet been installed in the Minas Passage.