April 03, 2016 - 11:30 AM
LAVINGTON - An Environmental Appeal Board hearing concerning the Pinnacle Renewable Energy pellet plant in Lavington has been postponed again.
Set to begin April 18 in Vernon, the two-week hearing won’t occur as scheduled, a representative from the appeal board has confirmed.
One of the appellants, Tom Coape-Arnold, says this is the third time the appeal date has been postponed. He, and other community members, are concerned about air pollution, fires and other safety issues.
“It’s extremely frustrating. We feel that we are prepared to go, we were not asking for a deferral and we’ve expressed our interest in proceeding expeditiously,” Coape-Arnold says. “It’s consuming a huge amount of time and energy to see it brought to conclusion.”
He says the hearing was deferred after his party submitted an amended statement of points on March 15, which took into account new air quality data released by Pinnacle and the provincial government.
“On receipt of that information, the lawyer acting on behalf of the government had a number of objections and requested that they be given the opportunity to put those objections forward, at which point it was apparent there would have to be another adjournment,” Coape-Arnold says.
The government now has a month to prepare its document of objections, after which the appelants will be given a month to respond. The appeal board expects to review the application sometime in June.
Pinnacle Renewable Energy president Leroy Reitsma says the company would have liked to see the hearing proceed as scheduled.
“We’re disappointed the process has been extended, but respect it’s a process and must allow for a proper exchange of information,” Reitsma says.
Since the pellet plant went into operation in September 2015, Reitsma says air quality has actually improved in the area due to state of the art technology upgrades at the existing Tolko sawmill.
“There is a very large reduction in emissions,” Reitsma says. “It’s supported by science.”
We asked the Ministry of Environment for a statement about the deferral but have not yet received a response. The Ministry of Environment issued Pinnacle’s air discharge permit in December 2014 and is one of the parties included in the appeal.
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