About Natural Resource Project Reviews
The Board conducts independent, quasi-judicial reviews of proposed non-energy natural resource projects to determine their public interest. The Board’s mandate and project criteria are set out in the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act.
Projects may be referred to the Board by order in council. Non-energy project proposals are automatically referred to the Natural Resources Conservation Board if they are required under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act to submit an environmental impact assessment. Non-energy projects include mining, forestry, water management and recreation.
Section 4 of the act lists the projects that are reviewable in accordance with the act and regulations: (a) forest industry projects, (b) recreational or tourism projects, (c) metallic or industrial mineral projects, (d) water management projects, (e) any other type of project prescribed in the regulations, and (f) specific projects prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Board reviews consider the potential effect of proposed projects on the environment, the community and the economy. Reviews may be jointly conducted with other provincial or federal regulators.
Panel members are appointed by the Chair.
An approval issued by the Board under the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act must be authorized by the Alberta cabinet and is addition to licences, permits or approvals required by other acts, regulations or by-laws.
Environmental Impact Assessments
The Natural Resources Conservation Board coordinates with Environment and Parks to establish the joint terms of reference for reviewable projects. The terms of reference set out common information requirements for the Board review and the environmental impact assessment.
The environmental impact assessment submitted by the applicant is reviewed by the Board and Science and Technology division staff, Environment and Parks, and other authorities as required by the application. The applicant may be asked to provide supplemental information.
The Board review is initiated when the Board receives the completed environmental impact assessment. At that point a notice is issued to advise the public of the application and the review process.
Reviews normally include the participation of community residents, interest groups, government ministries and municipal authorities as well as applicants. The Board starts its formal public review process when Environment and Parks deems that the environmental impact assessment is complete.
The Board encourages affected Albertans to participate in public hearings and notifies potentially affected communities about the review by placing notices in local papers in accordance with its rules of practice. All participants can question the evidence put forward by other participants.
Individuals or organizations that wish to appear before a review panel should contact Laura Friend, Board Administrator, Reviews Manager at 403-297-8269 (toll free 310-0000).
A guide to participation is available on-line. Print copies are available by contacting Board Reviews.
Board decisions on reviews under the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act can only be appealed to the Alberta Court of Appeal on questions of law or jurisdiction. The court must first grant leave to appeal.