March 10, 2011

Wetlands – welcome to the club!

By Wetlands – welcome to the club!

Author: Reed Hopper

We have often lamented the gross overreaching of federal agencies under the Clean Water Act.  When all is said and done, the Corps and EPA have pushed this law to its limits, and beyond, to justify regulating virtually every pond, puddle and ditch in the country.  It now appears our Canadian neighbors have been taking notes and are not to be outdone.

The Times & Transcript out of Brunswick reports that the Department of the Environment has published a wetland overlay that covers huge swaths of land and requires land owners to prove their property does not contain a wetland before they can use it.  The new rule has caused a firestorm of protests that has regulators on the defensive.

A Saint John lawyer says the new map covers almost a fifth of the province and "the discovery of a bog on a woodlot could require a study costing anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 to allow any cutting." 

That predictive layering has been criticized as too broad and restrictive because it puts the responsibility and cost on landowners and developers to show why a permit for operations on the property should be allowed.

In one case, the City of Fredericton says it incurred extra costs of $3 million and a year-and-a-half delay in the construction of a new civic centre because of the policy.

"In our opinion, the cost and delay was avoidable and unnecessary because our consultant had already offered a very reasonable mitigation plan for any wetland features on that property," Coun. Stephen Chase told the committee last week.

He noted that almost half of the land in the capital city now falls under the predictive layer.

The Saint John lawyer is offering some suggestions to lift the burden on landowners but they are unlikely to fall on fertile soil.  Read the whole article here

To our friends up north we say, "Welcome to the club!"   

 

 

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