Nova Scotia approves plan for controversial quarry near Fall River
A highly controversial quarry near Fall River has been given the go-ahead from the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, just over a year and a half after the quarry’s original approval was revoked.
In a release Monday afternoon, Scotian Materials was given a 10-year approval for the planned quarry which will be developed on less than four hectares on Perrin Drive near Fall River.
The approval includes terms and conditions focused on reducing environmental impacts and the protection of public health, issues that were brought up by a group of residents and politicians even after the quarry’s approval was originally revoked. The requirements though were also included in the original approval in September 2015.
Some of the requirements include monitoring ground and surface water, dust and noise, limitations and monitoring of blasting at the site, and the creation of a community liaison committee with representatives from the area.
In a release by Scotian president, Robert MacPherson said the decision to approve the quarry “reflects evidence-based decision-making.”
He continues in the release, stating the company responded to concerns and issues brought forward, which he says included two days of open houses, written submissions, comments posted on a website for the project, and stakeholder meetings.
“Protecting the environment and public health have been and will continue to be at the centre of how Scotian Materials provides a responsible and safe operation at this location,” MacPherson said.
With the approval given, the company says it now plans to hire staff.
MacPherson told Global News Monday that one person has already been hired, and there are plans to hire four more people right away. He said then in a “relatively short period of time” depending on market conditions, they would have up to 14 workers associated with the site. He added it could increase in future years.
When the quarry was first approved almost two years ago, several people in the community expressed outrage at the proposed development.
In November 2015, then-environment minister Andrew Younger said in a statement there was a lack of sufficient public consultation before the government decided to approve the project.
Scotian Materials appealed Younger’s decision a month later to Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
In January 2016, the company filed a new application for industrial approval, and a year later withdrew its appeal of Younger’s decision.
“We dropped the appeal in favour of letting the application move forward through the process,” MacPherson said.
The group, Stop the Fall River Quarry, reiterated their own concerns in February 2016, including the potential dangers of blasting. The site is near a highway and a few kilometres from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Stacey Rudderham told Global News the group had not yet seen the approval but were concerned. She said the department had said they would be kept informed of any decisions regarding the site, but were not told about the recent approval.
She said that they still had the same concerns and the consultations had not been dealt with.
“[We] plan to take a few days, look at the approval, and figure out what [the] next steps should be,” Rudderham said.
Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank MLA Bill Horne said in February last year he was against the project and in a release by the Liberal caucus Monday, he reiterated his disappointment.
“Going forward, I will continue to work with the Department of Environment to ensure the proponent is in full compliance with every term and condition in the approval,” Horne said in the release.
Monday’s release goes on to say the approval was made by department staff, under provincial regulations for a quarry of that size.
Appeals of the approval can be made within 30 days with a deadline of July 19.
—With files from Heide Pearson and Steve Silva
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.