Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Green projects need more review

NDP MP Nathan Cullen, who doubles as the NDP environmental critic in Ottawa is looking for more details on a proposed hydro electric project upriver on the Skeena.

The proposal still apparently very much in the planning phase attracted the attention of NDP MLA Gary Coons last week, Coons was concerned about the potential for Synex Energy to sell off water resources in the area without having to consult stakeholders in the region.

Cullen would like to wait for more information and feedback from the community before he makes any decisions one way or another.

He outlined his thoughts in a front page article in Monday’s Daily News.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, January 14, 2008

Pages one and three

It's too early to judge the merits of proposed hydro electric project in the area of the Skeena and Khyex Rivers, said Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.

Earlier this week, North Coast MLA Gary Coons said he was concerned about an application by Synex Energy Resources to the provincial Integrated Land Management Bureau for access to 210 hectares near Arden Lake, 153 hectares near Ayton Creek and 154.4 hectares near the Khtada River.

His concern was that 'small-scale' hydro projects do not require municipal or regional district approval and that the province was selling off the rights to its rivers without consulting local stakeholders.

Coons urged people to respond to the Integrated Land Management Bureau about the application by the Feb. 3 deadline.

However, Cullen, who is also the NDP’s federal environment critic, said he has too few details so far to pass judgment on the proposal.

“I want to get more details before I give it a thumbs-up or down. Any of these run-of-the-river projects, you have to take individually,” he said. “Part of the problem is in the rush for green power is that people assume anything like run-of-river, or wind power by its nature has to be benevolent. That’s not always the case. Every project has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.”

In an interview with the Daily News last week, Synex president Greg Sunell said the company was still in the exploration phase of the project and really did not have any firm details to present at this point in time.

However, if the company choose to proceed, it would be required under Water Act licensing regulations to consult with all the regional stakeholders.

”I think this project in particular leading in to a salmon-bearing river, it is important to have a good assessment on it,” said Cullen.

“And we’ve been pushing for so called green energy projects to have better environmental assessments done on them than have been done so far to this point because sometimes the enthusiasm overrides common sense and we don’t’ want to create any situations with unintended consequences.”

Cullen said he has yet to meet with the proponents or read any project details, nor has he heard any local opposition through his office.

The Integrated Land Management Bureau has been receiving a host of applications for the exploration of so0called green power projects around the North Coast for the past three years however, so far, only four have actually gone past the exploration phase.

Katabatic Power has two proposed wind farm projects – one on Mount Hays and one on Banks Island. Anyox Hydroelectric has several run-of-river projects near the old ghost towns of Anyox and Kitsault, and NaiKun is in the environmental assessment phase for the development of an offshore windfarm in the Hecate Strait.

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