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Port au Port wind project needs more details, environmental impact statement, rules minister

A proposed wind-energy project for the Port au Port Peninsula needs a little more leg work before getting approval from government. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The company behind the wind-energy project proposed on the Port au Port Peninsula will need to deliver an environmental impact statement and provide more details to the provincial Department of Environment and Climate Change before being given the go-ahead.

The controversial project is proposing to build 164 wind turbines throughout the region, along with a hydrogen and ammonia plant in nearby Stephenville.

But Environment Minister Bernard Davis wants to know more before giving the project the green light.

In a media release issued Friday afternoon, which was Davis’s deadline for decision, the department said Davis has advised the proponent of the project, umbrella company World Energy GH2, of what’s expected.

The company has to confirm the final proposed locations of wind turbines, worker accommodations, offices, explosive storage facilities, access roads, power lines and substations, as well as their distances from, and potential impacts on, nearby receptors.

Any areas of the project that that overlap with protected areas, private land, mining operations, mineral licenses and leases, recreational and traditional land uses must be identified, along with any potential project redesign.

Further, the potential effects on flora and fauna in the project area must be determined by:

  • A bat monitoring program which includes the active season between April 15 and Oct. 31 and obtains complete information on spring migration, summer resident bat activity and fall migration.
  • Targeted pre-construction breeding surveys for common nighthawk and short-eared owls.
  • A comprehensive survey for plants and lichen including species listed under the N.L. Endangered Species Act as well as Species at Risk Act. 
  • Baseline surveys for moose, caribou, and muskrat.

World Energy GH2 must also confirm proposed primary and secondary water sources and hydrological modelling to determine any effects on other local users. The company also needs to provide baseline geological information to support the planned storage and sequestration of chemicals produced throughout the project life, including CO2 and ammonia.

Assessment committee appointed

An environmental assessment committee has been appointed to the file to provide scientific and technical advice to Davis and draft guidelines for World Energy GH2 in preparing the impact statement. The committee includes representatives from nine provincial and federal government agencies, with its chair coming from the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

The public now has more time to provide comments on the project. Government is inviting residents to provide comment on the draft guidelines.

Residents of the area remained divided early this week over the pros and cons of the development. 

Cape St. George Mayor Stella Cornect told CBC News at the time that her community is dying and in need of an economic boost.

She said a civilian Port au Port project committee — made up of municipal councillors and members of the region’s local service districts — had asked Davis to extend his decision deadline.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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