News release

Terms of Reference for Environmental Assessment Process Sent to Northern Pulp

The terms of reference that Northern Pulp will use to prepare its environmental assessment for its proposed mill revitalization and new pulp effluent treatment plant were sent to the company today, March 14.

The environmental assessment is required to have a description of the company’s planned project in Pictou County, identify all potential environmental risks and impacts, and outline a plan to mitigate those risks and impacts.

The company has until March 14, 2024, to submit its environmental assessment, addressing all requirements in the terms of reference, to the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

When the Department receives the environmental assessment, the next steps in this legislated process are:

  • the Minister refers the report to an independent, appointed environmental assessment review panel; the work of the panel is guided by the science and evidence presented through the environmental assessment process
  • the panel oversees a review of the report that includes input from the public, the Mi’kmaq and government reviewers, and it can include public hearings
  • after the public review, the panel prepares a report and recommendation to the Minister, who then decides to either approve or reject the project
  • if the project is approved, a company can then decide to proceed to the Industrial Approval application phase and apply for a permit to construct and operate
  • emission and effluent conditions are set during the industrial approval stage, after a company has first identified all possible risks and impacts to the environment and prepared a mitigation plan to ensure the local environment can handle any changes that might happen as a result of the project.

The final terms of reference and the comments received from Northern Pulp, the Mi’kmaq, stakeholders and the public on the draft version are available at:

Quick Facts:

  • Nova Scotia’s legislated environmental assessment process balances economic development with protection of the environment; all companies that choose to operate in Nova Scotia follow the same process
  • on July 15, 2021, the Province announced that Northern Pulp’s mill revitalization and effluent treatment plant project must undergo a Class II environmental assessment
  • the company registered the project for a Class II environmental assessment for on December 7, 2021
  • public consultation on the draft terms of reference ran from December 21, 2021, to January 31, 2022; only comments relevant to the scope of the terms of reference as set out in the Environment Act regulations are considered during this process – it is not a consensus-based or public opinion process
  • the company’s new proposal involves changes to the pulp mill itself, as well as the design and construction of a new effluent treatment plant

Additional Resources:

More information on Nova Scotia’s Class II environmental assessment process is available at: