© Alicia Elson
Todd Russell took the seat as president with the NunatuKavut Community Council on May 1. Russell said in the coming months the NCC will be preparing to engage all parties involved in the Lower Churchill project to begin consultations with the organization and says if requests continue to be ignored political, legal or ‘on the ground’ action will follow.
The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) is no longer participating in the environmental assessment of the Labrador-Island Link, the second major piece of the Lower Churchill hydro development.
As The Telegram reported Saturday, the transmission link that will carry Churchill River power between Labrador and the island of Newfoundland has not yet been released from environmental assessment by the provincial government.
“NCC entered into the environmental assessment process as the aboriginal group that is most seriously and directly affected by the transmission link, which cuts through its territory,” reads a statement issued today.
It says the group has no faith in the process.
“We have raised our concerns with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Newfoundland and Labrador government time and time again,” states Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council.
“They fail to provide scientific information or adequately respond to our concerns. What information is given is not being disclosed in a timely fashion. We are given inadequate timelines to comment on information — especially compared to the time given to the project proponents. We lack the resources to fully participate in the process and are continuously denied any sort of negotiation or accommodation of our rights and title.”
The NunatuKavut Community Council was part of a failed Federal Court challenge to the environmental assessment of the dam at Muskrat Falls.
The group is currently pressing an appeal to a court injunction directing its members to stay away from the work site.
The statement today puts the project at risk, the group suggests, as the federal loan guarantee for the project stipulates aboriginal consultation must be completed to the satisfaction of the federal government.
To date, the NunatuKavut Community Council does not have a land claim accepted for negotiation by the federal government.
Project proponent Nalcor Energy formally began the assessment process for the Labrador-Island Link back in 2009.
As of the end of 2012, all documentation on the link requested by the provincial Department of Environment had been submitted, according to a project lead and Nalcor vice-president Gilbert Bennett.
Documentation includes a detailed environmental impact statement and about 20 additional "component studies" looking at how the project might affect everything from caribou populations to wilderness views.
Full documentation is available at: http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/env_assessment/projects/Y2010/1407/index.html