December 3, 2001

New environmental laws introduced in Newfoundland

New environmental legislation introduced by Newfoundland Environment Minister Ralph Wiseman in the provincial House of Assembly reflects a number of changes made following public consultation sessions during October.

The new Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and Water Resources Act (WRA) update and strengthen the province's environmental legislation, consolidating eight existing acts into two. Wiseman noted that in addition to meetings with the public, municipalities and environmental organizations such as the Newfoundland Environmental Industry Association, more than 30 written submissions were received.

Among the changes was the removal of the word "knowingly" from the offences section of both Acts. This makes it clear that any violation, deliberate or not, is an offence.

Both the EPA and WRA now have provisions enabling the Environment Minister to create a demerit point system for approvals, permits and licences granted under both Acts. This system, if established, would be similar to that associated with drivers' licences and would provide an early-warning mechanism for offenders. Subsequently, it would provide justification for revoking an approval, permit or licences where allocated points have been lost.

In addition, the EPA has been revised to enable municipalities or waste management authorities operating a waste disposal site to charge user fees. A provision prohibiting a court injunction against an approved use of a pesticide has been deleted from the EPA as well.

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