Prov­ince an­nounces ma­jor fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in Pla­cen­tia Bay aqua­cul­ture pro­ject

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - ST. AN­DREWS, N.B. BY COLIN FAR­RELL MARYSTOWN, N.L.

The re­cent decision by New­found­land and Labrador Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter An­drew Par­sons to ac­cept Grieg NL’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment (EIS) for the Pla­cen­tia Bay Aqua­cul­ture pro­ject sets a wor­ry­ing prece­dent for en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment in Canada, says the At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion (ASF).

As a re­sult of the re­lease decision, the fed­er­a­tion said in a news re­lease it will pre­pare an ap­peal in ac­cor­dance with New­found­land and Labrador’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act, ask­ing Par­sons to re­con­sider his decision.

The de­part­ment an­nounced Par­sons’ decision in an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment bul­letin is­sued on Sept. 6.

The bul­letin iden­ti­fied 15 terms and con­di­tions that Grieg must abide by for the ap­proval.

The fed­er­a­tion said ex­plicit guide­lines for the com­pany’s EIS, in­clud­ing the need to gather base­line data on wild species in Pla­cen­tia Bay, re­main in­com­plete.

ASF said it doc­u­mented th­ese short­com­ings in de­tailed com­ments sub­mit­ted ahead of Par­sons’ decision, ask­ing that the EIS be re­turned to Grieg for ad­di­tional work.

“The re­lease of this pro­ject is not sur­pris­ing given the con­flict of in­ter­est that arises from the provin­cial govern­ment act­ing as reg­u­la­tor, decision maker, and now an in­vestor in Grieg it­self,” said ASF pres­i­dent Bill Taylor. “The re­cent an­nounce­ment that govern­ment will buy shares in the com­pany is a clear sig­nal that this re­view has not been im­par­tial.”

The mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween Grieg NL and New­found­land and Labrador gives the com­pany a mo­nop­oly on salmon aqua­cul­ture in Pla­cen­tia Bay, ASF said in a news re­lease.

The fed­er­a­tion ini­ti­ated a ju­di­cial re­view in Oc­to­ber 2016, fol­low­ing the New­found­land and Labrador govern­ment’s first at­tempt to re­lease the Pla­cen­tia Bay aqua­cul­ture pro­ject from en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment. A provin­cial Supreme Court judge sided with ASF. A full-scale EIS was then or­dered.

See COM­PANY, page 2

Premier Dwight Ball was on hand at a kick-off event for Grieg NL in Marystown Fri­day, Sept. 14. The Premier an­nounced a fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment to the pro­ject in the form of a $30 mil­lion re­payable load.

Ball told The South­ern Gazette the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance is con­tin­gent on a num­ber of con­di­tions.

“What we’ve been able to do over the last num­ber of years in this ne­go­ti­a­tion is to put some strin­gent con­di­tions in place,” Ball said. “An ex­am­ple, what we’re talk­ing about here to­day is $30 mil­lion in provin­cial money over a seven-year pe­riod, and what is key in all of this is it’s per­for­mance based, it’s at­tached to jobs, it’s at­tached to in­vest­ment.

“So, you re­ally don’t get the money un­til you send the money, or un­til you cre­ate jobs in this area, so that’s the big dif­fer­ence right now, they’ll be no money ad­vanced un­til you see the eco­nomic ben­e­fit. There are very tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits to the prov­ince and to this area.”

Ball added that the govern­ment will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the pro­ject to en­sure the agreed con­di­tions are met.

“How much eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity is gen­er­ated from this pro­ject, how many jobs have you pro­duced, and are you meet­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions that are at­tached to this re­lease,” he noted re­gard­ing ar­eas that will be mon­i­tored.

When asked his thoughts on a pos­si­ble ap­peal of the prov­ince’s decision to re­lease the pro­ject from the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment process, as brought up by the At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion, the Premier said govern­ment an­tic­i­pated the move.

“This is a group that had the op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions lead­ing into this decision, and they did that, so it’s not un­usual … the anal­y­sis has been done, the reg­u­la­tions have been put in place — we firmly be­lieve and the de­part­ment them­selves agreed that this was ready for re­lease,” he said.

Ques­tion­ing con­flict

of in­ter­est

In a re­lease is­sued on Sept. 13, by the At­lantic Salmon Fed­er­a­tion, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pres­i­dent, Bill Taylor, ac­cused the provin­cial govern­ment of be­ing in a con­flict.

Ball said there was no con­flict on be­half of the govern­ment.

“This process is com­pletely in­de­pen­dent, it’s been through a num­ber of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions, a num­ber of re­views of other ju­ris­dic­tions and the de­part­ment at the time made the decision to re­lease this pro­ject,” he said.

On top of the provin­cial in­vest­ment, the fed­eral govern­ment will con­trib­ute a re­payable in­vest­ment of $10 mil­lion through the At­lantic Canada Op­por­tu­ni­ties Agency.

Pro­ject in­vest­ment

Thomas Grieg, owner of Grieg NL, said the fed­eral and provin­cial in­vest­ment puts the com­pany’s to­tal in­vest­ment into the pro­ject at $210 mil­lion.

“Our fi­nancers and in­vestors see this eq­uity in­vest­ment as a sign of con­fi­dence in the pro­ject,” said Grieg.

He added the com­pany ap­pre­ci­ates govern­ment’s ag­gres­sive ap­proach to cul­ti­vate in­vest­ment in aqua­cul­ture and en­sur­ing the cre­ation of em­ploy­ment and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in Pla­cen­tia Bay.

See WORLD, page 2

COLIN FAR­RELL — THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Premier Dwight Ball an­nounced Fri­day a fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment to the Pla­cen­tia Bay aqua­cul­ture pro­ject.

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