The people of Haida Gwaii have only two chances to comment on the environmental assessment for the proposed NaiKun wind farm project.
The first public input period is happening now and ends April 28.
The proponent, NaiKun Wind Development Inc, wants to put 67 to 110 wind turbines in Hecate Strait, off the northeast coast of Graham Island. This first phase of the project would generate 320 MW of power, although Naikun wants to eventually expand the wind farm and produce up to 1,750 MW.
Presently the NaiKun project is in what is called a pre-application phase, meaning the terms of reference are still being set.
Archie Riddell, project assessment director at the provincial Environmental Assessment Office, said this is an important stage as it guides what the proponent’s application to the assessment office will look like.
The terms of reference set out what NaiKun will have to address in the second phase of the process, or the application phase.
Once the public period on the terms of reference is over and the terms have been changed to reflect public input, the environmental assessment office will look at the terms again and accept or reject them.
Mr. Riddell said he expects the terms of reference will cover things like the impact on the crab fishery, navigable waters, birds and fish habitat.
If the terms are accepted, then the proponent’s next step is to address these topics in their application.
Mr. Riddell said it can take a year or two for the proponent to complete the application. Once the application has been submitted and screened, then a formal 180-day public comment period begins. This includes public meetings and any further assessments.
Then the environmental assessment office writes a report and forwards the project to the relevant ministers for approval (NaiKun’s project will likely be vetted by the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources). At that point a decision must be made within 45 days.
Islanders who are interested in tracking the process should keep an eye on the website at www.eao.gov.bc.ca.
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