The government of Nova Scotia did not approve or reject the Maritime Launch Services (MLS) Environmental Assessment report in its decision yesterday. Instead, it’s asking MLS for more information in the form of a “focus report.”
The decision is one that MLS knew could happen. It will certainly delay their plans, at least until next spring.
In the decision, Margaret Miller, the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment in her letter stated “during the EA (environmental assessment) review, concerns were raised regarding the potential impacts of the Project on: water resources, soil, air quality, noise, flora and fauna, fish and fish habitat, protected areas and parks, human health and contingency planning. These concerns were raised through public and Mi’kmaq submissions, as well as submissions by Nova Scotia Environment, Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry, Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Department of National Defense.”
The letter further states “the focus report shall examine potential impacts of the Project on: water resources, soil, air quality, noise flora and fauna, fish and fish habitat, protected areas and parks, dangerous good management, waste management, human health and contingency planning. The EA Administrator will provide you with written terms of reference for the preparation of the focus report within 25 days. Maritime Launch Services Ltd. will have up to one year to submit the required number of hard copies for distribution by the EA Branch, and an electronic copy of the focus report. The EA Branch will notify the public of the release of the focus report for review. There will be a 30-day public review period once the focus report has been released to the public.”
MLS will also have to conduct additional required seasonal studies but are not required required for the focus report. They will however be required before MLS can start construction.
SpaceQ contacted MLS CEO Steve Matier who provide the following statement.
MLS is disappointed but not surprised by the request for a focus report. This has never been done before in Canada, after all. The level of detail we have provided to date is commensurate with those done in the US for EAs but they have been launching rockets for over fifty years and have that experience to draw from. We do have a great deal of information in the public domain and have some sense of the information needed based on some of the comments submitted and will begin assembling the responses immediately.
Our goal of groundbreaking this fall is obviously delayed but the plans for full construction start next Spring is still achievable at this point.
MLS never expected the effort to be without challenges and we believe in the project. Personally, my wife and I have moved our family to Nova Scotia to see this through. The global market needs this additional capability and we will press ahead. That said, MLS will need to have vocal support from across the country if we are going to be successful. We have been grateful for the response in general in allowing the project to mature but we will only be successful with active steps from the community communicating their support.