Fisheries and Land Resources

Environmental Assessment Referral

The Department of Natural Resources is a major resource department that has a responsibility to participate in other government processes designed to maintain the health of our ecosystems.

One of the most important legislations this department participates in is the Environmental Protection Act, administered by the Department of Environment and Climate Change. This act affects everyone in the province. It protects our resources, environment and socio-economic connection to our resources. It requires anyone planning a project that could impact on the natural, social or economic environment to explain the project in a public forum before it is permitted to proceed. This explanation is provided to government agencies and the public in the form of an Environmental Registration Document. Proponents of a project can determine if their project is subject to environmental registration under the Environmental Assessment Act by contacting the Environmental Assessment Division, or refer to their publication "Environmental Assessment..... A Guide to the Process."

The Environmental and Land Use Senior Biologist is mandated to coordinate input from this Department on environmental assessment referrals. This mandate includes attempting to resolve any conflicts received from various divisions of the department, providing comment and recommended opinions to the Executive of this department and acting as the principal contact with the Environmental Assessment Division officials on all matters pertaining to referrals.

The Department of Natural Resources is subject to the Environmental Assessment Act and must register proposed undertakings as the proponent. Internal review and conflict resolution pertaining to these projects must be undertaken prior to registration. The Environmental and Land Use Program is mandated to coordinate internal reviews of departmental proposals, attempt to resolve conflicts and provide recommendations to the Executive.

If the decision of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is to require further assessment of a proposed project, the decision could take one of two forms:

  • An Environmental Preview Report (EPR) is necessary. An EPR is necessary to provide additional information which was deficient in the registration document in order to determine if an Environment Impact Statement is necessary.
  • An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required. The EIS is a complete description of the undertaking, stating the need in terms of present and future demands, the existing environment relating to the undertaking, the impact the undertaking will have on that environment, the proposed mitigation and a statement of residual impact.

In either of the above scenarios an Environmental Assessment Committee shall be formed to provide recommendations to the Minister concerning the formulating of guidelines and evaluating the reports. The Deputy Minister designates a representative from the department to sit on the Environmental Assessment Committee; the Senior Environmental and Land Use Biologist has been the principal representative from the Forestry and Wildlife Branch on Environmental Assessment Committees in the province.

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