The president of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland (SAEN) says the province’s Department of Environment is denying access to a public document by not providing paper copies upon request.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Sean Vardy said there have been “numerous public requests” for a registration document for the environmental assessment of the Grieg NL Nurseries Ltd. and Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd. aquaculture development in Marystown and Placentia Bay.
The Department of Environment is welcoming comments on the plans until March 26. A minister’s decision is expected April 5.
“Like all registration documents, this document is publicly available on the Department of Environment and Conservation website,” a spokeswoman stated when provided with Vardy’s statement.
“Given that this document consists of more than 500 pages, and weighs several pounds, providing multiple hard copies is not fiscally or environmentally responsible.”
Hard copies are available for viewing at five public libraries, in St. John’s (A.C. Hunter), Clarenville, Marystown, Gander and Corner Brook.
"It is simply not acceptable to expect people to read and study 500 pages on a computer screen or to travel over 200 kilometres to a library to share a paper copy," Vardy said, calling on government to provide the document on request and extend the deadline for response.
"'To do otherwise is simply to deny the opportunity for public input and to muzzle potential criticism.'"
The department, asked for response to that request, reiterated the original statement.
The document can be readily accessed through the Department of Environment and Conservation website.