The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA) stands by its submission to the environmental assessment public comment period for the Narrows Inlet hydro project and notes that our concerns have been echoed by technical experts reviewing the submission on behalf of regulatory agencies.
John Gleeson’s article (Coast Reporter, Jan. 4, “Nohr takes back criticism of Narrows Inlet project”) indicated that Sunshine Coast Regional District board chair Nohr had reconsidered his criticism of the massive Narrows Inlet hydropower project. However, expert advice contained in Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations submissions to the Environmental Assessment Office, viewable on the e-PIC website, supports SCCA concerns about this proposal.
Key points in the regulatory agency assessments (Babakaiff, 2012; Barrett, 2012): the large proportion of qualitative and opinion-based assessment, often without scientific literature references, is unique; some appendices have no attributed authorship or professional sign-off. It is not clear which professionals are accepting responsibility for what components of the assessment. Many appendices and sections provide conflicting information. The volume of material made a complete review of all components of the assessment simply not possible; assigned significance of environmental effects have “low confidence owing to the numerous information deficiencies” which are “pervasive.” The proposed draining and flooding of three lakes up to 45 metres below normal levels is inconsistent with how the Ministry currently manages lake ecosystems. There is not enough data or knowledge of key wildlife species and negative impacts on mountain goat, fish and amphibian habitats are inevitable.
Simply put, the magnitude of the project and the shortcomings in the environmental assessment submission, as identified by Ministry staff, vindicate SCCA concerns about the latest proposal for Narrows Inlet.
Jason Herz, SCCA chair