The EAC’s statement on wind energy, land use and green hydrogen production in Nova Scotia

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The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss demand both immediate and thoughtful action. We must urgently transition away from fossil fuels – the main driver of climate change – but we must do so in a manner that avoids perpetuating the harms caused by current energy production practices. The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) wholeheartedly supports a shift toward clean energy sources that will help protect future generations from the worst effects of climate change, make life more affordable for Nova Scotians and promote a socially and ecologically resilient energy future. Energy produced through land-based wind projects can play a critical role in this shift, but only if we pursue it in a way that disrupts the patterns of injustice and environmental destruction that have characterized our energy systems to date. 

Our support for land-based wind projects hinges on a series of conditions, as outlined in our Land-Based Wind Position Statement. First and foremost, the EAC advocates for wind energy as a pathway to get Nova Scotia off fossil fuels. It’s our position that energy produced through local wind projects should first be used to create clean, affordable electricity for Nova Scotia’s grid or shared directly with regional neighbours. These direct uses must be prioritized over the production of hydrogen and ammonia for export overseas. 

Nova Scotia has a limited landmass and an already degraded and fragmented environment. We must be strategic and principled in how we use available land and what effect this may have on our natural environment and our communities. With this in mind, we’re concerned that the latest network of land-based wind projects has been earmarked to power an export-based hydrogen and ammonia industry instead of greening our electricity grid here at home. We’re critical of how this industry will support increased community and ecological resilience, let alone help create clean, affordable energy solutions for Nova Scotian households.  

As our province explores the prospect of a green hydrogen industry, we find ourselves disheartened by ongoing issues expressed by communities. These include a lack of community involvement, unclear responses to concerns and incomplete surveys regarding endangered species and our environment's well-being. The EAC urges decision makers to reconsider their land-use priorities and focus on land-based wind projects that support positive change while safeguarding our ecosystems and communities. 

Lack of land use planning 

Nova Scotia’s lands, waters and wildlife need to be cared for by all. A cautious approach must be taken when the province picks which public lands are designated for industrial uses. Intensive industrial land uses like mining, forestry and wind farm projects come at a cost – they negatively impact animal populations and crucial habitats like forests and wetlands. Where these disruptive land uses happen is currently not coordinated by the provincial government. Nova Scotia lacks a strategic, integrated approach to deciding which lands are used for forestry, mining, wind projects, nature conservation or other uses.  

This lack of comprehensive land use planning results in the provincial government approving wind power projects in inappropriate locations – ones with exceptionally high biodiversity that should instead be considered for conservation. We have observed that the province does a poor job of considering these other values (e.g., using a site for nature conservation) in their environmental assessment (EA) process. 

Weakening of the environmental assessment process 

The province’s EA process evaluates large scale projects that may significantly alter Nova Scotia’s environment. Whether a project is an open pit mine or wind farm, it will inevitably have negative impacts on natural features like forests, wetlands and wildlife habitat. The EA process is meant to foresee these impacts and require that the project’s proponent reduce any negative impacts. It is also an opportunity to set terms and conditions that require ongoing engagement, mitigation and monitoring of environmental impacts throughout a project’s lifetime.  

However, the EAC has seen both a weakening of requirements for projects going through the EA process, as well as increasingly inadequate assessments from project proponents. We’re concerned by the trend of wind farm projects being approved despite having increasingly weak EA submissions and project-specific terms and conditions. We’re seeing this trend escalate as projects intended to power industrial scale hydrogen and ammonia for export become increasingly common. 

It’s possible to design and manage large scale projects that are less harmful to Nova Scotia’s natural environment. But over the last year, the province has been approving projects with less scrutiny and on very short timelines. Both the public and government department staff have made specific recommendations on various large-scale projects, but these recommendations have not been reflected in the terms and conditions of EA approvals, and we’ve repeatedly seen excellent recommendations ignored by Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change. Species at risk, wildlife, wetlands and watercourses will bear the brunt of this hastened, diminished process, even though viable options are available. We need the EA process to return to a more rigorous state, one that will require more from proponents and from government itself. Wind farms and other projects going through the EA process are falling short of doing the basic work of reducing their impacts on our land, native species and natural resources. 


The EAC firmly believes that while urgently transitioning away from fossil fuels is essential, it must be done in support of our environment and not in spite of it. Projects which do not prioritize the use of wind energy to replace fossil fuels on Nova Scotia’s electricity grid should be given due scrutiny as they have the potential to place extra strain on our ecosystems, while providing less local benefit. Therefore, we urge the Nova Scotia government to: 

  • prioritize projects that offer clean, affordable energy solutions for Nova Scotians by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and greening our electricity grid; 

  • ensure that projects are built in areas that minimize negative effects on the environment and our communities; 

  • make sufficient use of, and continue strengthening our environmental assessment process;  

  • and ensure that any new developments approved are in the interest of ecological and community resilience as we continue to face the climate and biodiversity crises. 


Media contacts: 

David Neira 
Energy Coordinator | Ecology Action Centre 
(902) 429-2202 ext. 103  

For requests specific to the EA process and land use planning: 

Karen McKendry  
Senior Wilderness Outreach Coordinator | Ecology Action Centre 
(902) 429-2202 ext. 300