Nova Scotia government didn’t consult adequately with Sipekne’katik Band, judge rules –

The provincial Environment Department did not consult adequately with the Sipekne’katik Band about aboriginal and treaty rights regarding a facet of the Alton Gas project, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice has concluded.

“While there had been extensive consultations regarding the potential environmental impacts of the project, the core issue of aboriginal title and treaty rights was never specifically engaged,” Justice Frank C. Edwards said in a written decision released Tuesday.

“The minister therefore committed palpable and overriding error when she concluded that the level of consultation was appropriate,” Edwards said. “I also found that, but for her misapprehension of the evidence, the minister would have concluded otherwise.”

Since 2004, the company, Alton Gas, a subsidiary of AltaGas, has been in the developing stages of a project to build gigantic underground natural gas storage caverns in Colchester County, near Alton. The company intends to draw 10,000 cubic metres of water daily from the Shubenacadie River estuary near Fort Ellis and pump it 12 kilometres to the storage site, where a solution mining process would flush out underground salt to develop two caverns. The diluted brine from the dissolved salt would then be returned to the river and gradually discharged back into the estuary.

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