Heavy equipment works on a site near the proposed Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric project in August. — Telegram file photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick
The Newfoundland Supreme Court, trial division, has granted a permanent injunction against NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), Todd Russell and persons unknown, Nalcor Energy announced Wednesday in a news release.
The injunction allows Nalcor to continue its site construction work at Muskrat Falls without interruption.
The court continued to support Nalcor Energy’s proposal to construct and maintain a “safety zone” for protesters, an area identified as a safe distance from the work site where protesters can continue their demonstration in the vicinity without compromising safety. The court further ordered against any protesting activities within 50 metres of the work site.
“We understand that there are groups opposed to the Muskrat Falls development and we respect their right to protest,” said Gilbert Bennett, vice-president, Lower Churchill Project.
“But safety is our Number 1 priority, and it is critical that we ensure a safe work environment for our employees, contractors and protesters.”
NCC president Todd Russell said he was extremely disappointed by the permanent injunction, but they are undaunted.
“We are reviewing the findings of the court with our legal counsel and we will be making a decision regarding an appeal,” said Russell.
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He said he could not comment on the findings of the court, but he and the NCC will press on.
“We are undaunted in protecting our aboriginal rights and interests and we will pursue whatever lawful means that are available to us, whether that be in the courts or whether that be on the ground,” Russell added.
Russell said the Muskrat Falls project is a disastrous project not only for NunatuKavut but for Labradorians and the people of this province.
“We feel this was heavy-handed and there’s repercussions for us, not only in the present, but for the future as well,” he said.
Bennett said that, even though the permanent injunction has been granted, Nalcor will continue the consultation process with the NCC.
“There has been an extensive consultation process and it will be a continuing one. We may not have complete alignment on a number of issues, but at the end of the day we have engaged,” said Bennett.
He said the consultation would continue though the community liaison committee and will be an ongoing process.
“I think we have to say there is never enough (consultation), we will continue to engage and have dialog as long as issues are outstanding,” Bennett added.