Nordic Aquafarms completes permit hearings
Nordic Aquafarms (NAF) has completed the last hearing for state-level permitting required for the company to complete its planned USD 500 million (EUR 447.9 million) salmon recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Belfast, Maine.
The hearings, which occurred on 2 March, were for a state-level permit for the removal and disposal of subtidal excavation material and the company’s plans to ensure local fisheries aren’t impacted. The removal of material is part of the company’s plan to locate inlet and outlet pipes for the facility in the nearby Penobscot Bay.
“We are confident that NAF has provided an application that is in conformance with all applicable regulations, and that a set of fair and comprehensive permits will be issued to allow us to proceed with the project,” Ed Cotter, the company’s senior vice president of projects in Maine, said.
The comments generated from the hearing, which was held by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, will be issued to the state’s Board of Environmental Protection. The company has already had hearings with the board in February, roughly two years after the project was first proposed.
Throughout the process, NAF has had to battle local opposition, including legal challenges and opposition from local nonprofit groups. The latest hearing, according to NAF, allowed “all parties to be heard,” and included the facts of the permits, rather than opponents “unfounded concerns,” according to executive vice president, commercial, Marianne Naess.
“The BEP can now deliberate with solid, factual information presented to them,” she said. “Unfounded concerns by opponents have been refuted, and legitimate issues can now be addressed through compliance requirements and proper permit conditions that will ensure that the natural environment is always protected.”
At the same time, an ongoing lawsuit over the ownership of the tidal land that NAF plans to use for locating its pipes continues. The company recently filed a countersuit against Upstream Watch over a conservation easement that the nonprofit established for the tidal land that NAF had established its own easement on for locating the pipes.
“In an attempt to stop NAF´s project, neighbors Mabee/Grace claimed ownership to the intertidal land of three neighboring families and conveyed a conservation easement to Upstream Watch, that Upstream then recorded in the Waldo County Registry of Deed,” the company stated in a release. “One of those families – the family that NAF is under contract with for installation of its seawater pipes – has owned their land for over seventy years.”
NAF said it continues to “stand with the family that has owned this land for over seventy years and defends their rights,” and that the tortious interference claim was field as a response to the Mabee/Grace lawsuit.
The company also continues to assert that it has sufficient right, title, and interest to the land in question, and that the lawsuits claiming otherwise have no merit.