Electricity Filing Manual – Chapter 6 – Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment

Table of Contents


6.1 Introduction

This chapter describes the NEB’s environmental and socio-economic assessment responsibilities and process and outlines the information required in a complete application. Chapter 6 consists of two broad parts.

Subsections 6.2 to 6.4 will assist an applicant in understanding how a project is evaluated and how an applicant should provide information:

6.2 – The NEB’s Approach to Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment;

6.3 – Scope of  Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment; and

6.4 – Level of Detail.

The applicant should carefully review the information in subsections 6.2 through 6.4 to properly understand the requirements outlined in the subsections that follow.

The second part of the chapter, subsections 6.5 to 6.8, describes the information applicants should include in a project-specific Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA):

6.5 – Description of the Environmental and Socio-Economic Setting;

6.6 – Effects Assessment;

6.7 – Cumulative Effects Assessment; and

6.8 – Inspection, Monitoring and Follow-up.

In addition to the description of the project (discussed in Chapter 3 and 4 of this Manual), the applicant should describe:

  • the environmental and socio-economic baseline setting;
  • the predicted beneficial and adverse effects of the proposed project on the socio-economic and biophysical environment over the life of the project;
  • the methods used for effects analysis, and the rationale for selecting the methods chosen;
  • the proposed mitigation measures; and
  • the predicted significance of residual project effects and residual cumulative effects.

Figure 2-2: The Applicant's ESA process

Figure 2-2: The Applicant's ESA process
Graphic Description

Figure 2.2 above provides an illustrative summary of the ESA process described in this chapter as a whole.

The level of detail the NEB requires in an application will vary with:

  • the nature and scale of the project;
  • the predicted effects of the project; and
  • the level of public interest in the project.

The applicant must provide a defensible line of reasoning, supported by facts, to support the analysis and conclusions on identified issues and the environmental and socio-economic effects of the project.

Table 6-1 in Subsection 6.4 identifies circumstances that trigger the need for detailed information on specific biophysical or socio-economic components and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase. Tables 6-2 and 6-3, which follow Subsection A.2.7, identify those specific information requirements.

6.2 The NEB’s Approach to Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment

The NEB has a broad mandate under the NEB Act and it may consider matters that appear to the Board to be directly related to the international powerlines (IPL) and relevant to its decisions or recommendations. The NEB's environmental and socio-economic assessment responsibilities cover four distinct phases:

  • evaluating potential effects of constructing and operating proposed projects;
  • monitoring and enforcing terms and conditions before, during and after construction;
  • monitoring and regulating ongoing operations, including decommissioning; and
  • evaluating potential effects of abandonment.

The NEB’s objective for environmental and socio-economic assessment are that:

  • the potential effects of projects receive thorough consideration before any decisions on the project are made allowing a project to proceed;
  • projects are not likely to cause significant adverse effects or contribute to significant adverse cumulative effects;
  • there is an opportunity for meaningful public and Aboriginal participation; and

the NEB’s process and its decisions or recommendations are transparent and reflect the input received from those participating in the environmental assessment and regulatory review process.

6.3 Scope of the Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment

6.3.1 What is Scoping?

Appropriate scoping is the foundation upon which an efficient and effective environmental and socio-economic assessment is built.

The scope ensures that the assessment focuses on relevant issues and concerns, and assists in determining the appropriate level of detail to include in the assessment. Proper scoping reduces the risk of including unimportant or irrelevant information in the assessment or excluding factors that should be assessed.Scoping is the process of identifying:

  • the physical facilities and activities to include within the ESA; and
  • what biophysical and socio-economic elements are likely to be affected.

FYI - See also...

Scoping information for cumulative effects assessment is provided in Subsection 6.7.2

6.3.2 The Applicant's Role in Scoping

The applicant’s role in scoping includes:

  • providing sufficient information for the NEB to fully understand the nature of the project it is to assess;
  • ensuring the applicant’s ESA focuses on relevant issues and concerns, including those identified by affected parties, and that an appropriate level of detail is included in the ESA; and
  • considering the factors set out in s.19 of the CEA Act 2012 as applicable (see Factors to be Considered below), even for projects not governed by the CEA Act 2012.

To assist an applicant in scoping before filing an application, the NEB encourages the applicant to:

  • request a meeting with Board staff to discuss process-related matters and be guided to examples of complete ESAs filed previously with the Board (see Section 1.6 – Pre-Application Meetings Guidance Notes);
  • consult any relevant Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) guidance documents and if appropriate, discuss scoping with any other relevant federal authorities (see Table 5-1 for potential considerations and contacts); and
  • where appropriate, consult with other regulatory bodies at the provincial, territorial, regional, municipal or Aboriginal levels of government.

An application must clearly identify, describe and substantiate:

  • the scope of the applied for project;
  • other physical facilities and activities necessary to enable the project to proceed, including directly-related ancillary facilities, such as access roads including temporary and permanent bridge crossings, or construction camps; and
  • other physical facilities and activities likely to occur if the applied for project is approved and proceeds, which may include other power lines and works directly related to the proposed project.

6.3.3 Scope of the assessment and the NEB

The scope of the project includes the physical facilities and activities making up the project and enabling it to proceed as applied for by the proponent. It may also include other physical facilities and activities that would be undertaken if the applied for project is approved and proceeds.

The NEB determines the scope of the project by considering relevant case law, CEA Agency guidance and any other relevant commentary.

The NEB will review and assess the scope of the ESA based on the evidence before it. Although elements of the project or the scope of factors to be considered may change over the course of a proceeding (e.g., as a result of public or Aboriginal input, or changes to the project), the application is usually the prime source of information and starting point for establishing what the Board will consider in the environmental assessment of a project.

For projects subject to a public hearing, the NEB will release a List of Issues that sets out the issues the Board will consider in the hearing. Within the List of Issues, environmental matters are usually identified at a sufficiently broad level that all relevant environmental effects may be considered. It is important to note the requirements within this Filing Manual amount to a standing scoping document in lieu of the NEB preparing a project-specific scoping document for every project.

FYI - Reminder...

The requirements contained within this Filing Manual are essentially a generic scope of the assessment document applicable to any facility project. The description of the project within the proponent’s application sets out the scope of the project. If the information submitted is not sufficient for the NEB to be clear on scope, the NEB will request more information, which could lengthen the assessment process.

In evaluating whether to include other physical facilities and activities directly related to the proposed project, but which may be outside of the NEB’s regulatory jurisdiction, the Board may consider factors such as:

  • Is the physical facility or activity within the control of the applicant for the primary project being applied for under the NEB Act?
  • Are mitigation measures and follow-up activities enforceable by the NEB, another federal or provincial department or agency, or person or body that will ensure implementation?
  • Are effects from the other physical facilities and activities relevant to the Board’s decision or recommendation under the NEB Act?

CEA Act 2012 Designated Physical Activities

For physical activities designated under the CEA Act 2012, the NEB as the Responsible Authority must prepare a description of the factors to be taken into account in the EA and the scope of those factors. Section 19 of CEA Act 2012 sets out the factors that must be taken into account. It is critical that applicants, in preparing their ESA’s, apply section 19 and consider the scope of those factors based on guidance in this Filing Manual.

6.4 Level of Detail

The nature of the project, together with the environmental and socio-economic setting, establish the extent of interactions between the project and the environment. Those interactions form the basis on which effects are predicted, and for understanding the appropriate level of detail needed about the setting, interactions, and predicted effects. The extent of public interest may also guide the applicant in determining the level of detail necessary.

Where the project may impact Aboriginal communities and affect the use of traditional territory or potential or established treaty or Aboriginal rights, applicants must identify the potentially-affected Aboriginal groups and carry out effective consultations with them to determine their views and concerns. If there are potential impacts, applicants must file information about the Aboriginal groups affected, the concerns they have raised, how the applicant will address the concerns and identify any outstanding concerns. The level of detail provided should reflect the nature and extent of the impacts, the nature of the rights or interests affected and the degree of concern expressed by Aboriginal groups.

The information provided by an applicant in its ESA must be of sufficient detail to allow the NEB to:

  • identify the spatial and temporal extent of interactions between the project and the biophysical and human environments;
  • identify the potential effects of the project;
  • identify the potential for the environment to affect the project; and
  • determine the significance of those effects.

FYI - Example...

As an example, a project crossing a small and ephemeral watercourse during the dry perod, with no activities or physical works within the fisheries sensitive zone, would likely require less detail of effects on fish and fish habitat than a project requiring in-stream construction work in a fish-bearing watercourse during spawning periods.

The applicant must clearly rationalize the level of detail provided. This is typically reflected through the following:

  • Description of the project: information describing how the project would cross the watercourse, (primary and alternative methods) and whether any physical works or construction would be required in or immediately adjacent to the watercourse, and if so, what these could be and how they might take place;
  • Environmental setting: information on  the nature of the watercourse, shores, riparian zones, erosive features, its fisheries and fish habitat potential;
  • Interactions: information detailing the proposed timing of construction, the spatial extent of interactions, any loss of riparian or fish habitat, and extent of any potential release of a deleterious substance into the watercourse;
  • Predicted effects: information on any direct and indirect effects on water quality, habitat, fish and on which life stage, or any effects on other wildlife; and

Results of consultation with other regulators: information detailing the results of any consultation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or the measures that will be taken to ensure compliance with the Fisheries Act with respect to fisheries protection.

The ESA must include both quantitative and qualitative information. Applicants must consider the extent to which detailed maps, survey and trend data, or diagrams or figures relating to specific areas of biophysical or socio-economic elements of interest or concern may enhance the assessment. The number and nature of biophysical and socio-economic elements considered within an ESA, and the supporting level of detail necessary, will vary depending on the setting and issues raised about the project.

Table 6-1 below provides examples of the range of circumstances that may lead to the need for detailed information and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase. Where circumstances described in Table 6-1 exist, Tables 6-2 and 6-3 describe the specific details to include in the assessment.

Table 6-1:
Circumstances and Interactions Requiring Detailed Biophysical and Socio-Economic Information
Biophysical and Socio-Economic Elements Circumstances and Interactions Requiring Detailed Information
(considering all phases of the project including potential accidents and malfunctions during each phase)
Physical and meteorological environment
  • The project may affect the morphology of unique physical features (such as physiography, bedrock, permafrost, topography, geology or other local conditions).
  • The project may be affected by local or regional physical features, meteorological conditions or extremes, or other natural hazards.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Soil and soil productivity
  • Any portion of the project would be located outside a previously developed fenced or gravelled facility site.
  • Any portion of the project is to be buried underground.
  • The project may result in a reduction in soil productivity or integrity.
  • Historical land use suggests soils or sediments may contain contaminants or the project may result in the contamination of soils.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Vegetation
  • Any portion of the project would be located outside a previously developed fenced or gravelled facility site.
  • Any portion of the project would crossthrough an area that may require ongoing vegetation control to protect conductors or towers.
  • The project may result in the proliferation of invasive species.
  • The project may result in the damage or destruction of vegetative communities.
  • The project may affect vegetation of specific concern to an Aboriginal group.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Water quality and quantity
  • The project would be within 30 m of a water body.
  • The project may reduce the quality or quantity of water.
  • The project would involve the likely release or leaching of a polluting substance into a water body or groundwater.
  • The project may result in a change in groundwater flows.
  • The project may result in the inter-basin transfer of water.
  • The project may affect a water body of specific concern to an Aboriginal group.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Fish and fish habitat
  • The project is within 30 m of a fish-bearing water body or its tributaries.
  • The project may result in the deposit of a polluting or harmful substance into a fish-bearing water body.
  • Local fisheries exist that may be affected by the project.
  • The project may affect fish or fish habitat of specific concern to an Aboriginal group.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Wetlands
  • The project would include physical facilities or activities within 30 m of a wetland.
  • The project would include activities or physical facilities within regionally, provincially, territorially or federally-established limits of a wetland with provincial, territorial, regional or federal status.
  • The project may result in loss of wetland functions.
  • The project may affect wetlands of specific concern to an Aboriginal group.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Wildlife and wildlife habitat
  • The project would be located on or near lands that might constitute sensitive habitat for wildlife (e.g., nesting, denning, overwintering, migratory/staging, movement corridors, forest interior habitat, mineral licks)
  • The project would be located on or near an area of environmental significance or of natural or scientific interest such as a National Park, a Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a National Wildlife Area, an Important Bird Area, World Biosphere Reserve, or a designated Environmental Sensitive Area.
  • The project may create new human access opportunities to important wildlife habitat.
  • The project may result in a loss or change to wildlife habitat function (e.g., nesting, foraging, migration).
  • The project may result in increased mortality or disturbance of wildlife.
  • The project may affect wildlife of specific concern to an Aboriginal group.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Species at Risk or Species of Special Status and related habitat
  • The study area includes lands within the identified range of a species at risk or species of special status, and includes habitat that could support these species.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation
Air emissions
  • There may be increased air emissions from operating or maintaining the project.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Acoustic environment
  • The project may result in increased noise levels during construction, operation  and maintenance (e.g., blasting, or noise from construction traffic).
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Electromagnetism and Corona Discharge
  • The project may change the existing environmental setting related to electromagnetic fields.
  • The project will have the potential to result in radio and television interference.
Human occupancy and resource use
  • The project will not be located entirely within a previously developed facility site, on company owned land, zoned for industrial purposes.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Heritage resources
  • The project would include clearing of vegetation, grading, trenching, excavating or drilling.
  • The project would create new human access opportunities to areas with heritage resources or resource potential.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Navigation and navigation safety
  • The project includes activities to be conducted or components to be located in, on, over, under, through or across a navigable waterway when the water is flowing (i.e., not seasonally dry or frozen).
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Traditional land and resource use
  • The project would be located on, or traverse, Crown land or the traditional territory, reserve land or settlement area of an Aboriginal group.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Social and cultural well-being
  • The project may affect the social and cultural well-being of Aboriginal groups, local residents or communities.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Human health and aesthetics
  • The project may affect local or regional water quality and quantity or air quality.
  • The project may change the existing environmental setting related to odours, visual aesthetics (beauty) or other sensory conditions.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Infrastructure and services
  • The project may cause temporary or permanent damage, or require additions, modifications or repairs to local or regional infrastructure.
  • The project may result in increased demands on local and regional services.
  • The project may affect the usage of roadways during construction and operation.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.
Employment and economy
  • The project may affect local and regional employment, procurement (ordering) and contracting conditions or government revenues.
  • There is outstanding concern about this element of the project, which has not been resolved through consultation.

6.5 Description of the Environmental and Socio-Economic Setting

A description of the environmental and socio-economic setting within the study area (also known as “baseline information”) is necessary to predict the effects of a proposed project. This baseline information provides a backdrop against which a project’s effects are assessed, including cumulative effects of a project. The applicant is not expected to provide extensive descriptions of features of the environment or socio-economic components that would clearly not be impacted by a proposed project.

Goal

The application describes the biophysical and socio-economic setting with sufficient detail to:

  • identify the elements of importance in the area;
  • identify project-environment interactions;
  • identify, predict and determine the significance of effects of the project;
  • identify and predict the effects of the environment on the project; and
  • formulate appropriate mitigation measures and monitoring programs.

Filing Requirements

  • Identify and describe the current biophysical and socio-economic setting of each element (i.e., baseline information) in the area where the project is to be carried out. Include both a map at an appropriate scale and describe:
    • the study area(s), and how the study area(s) were established;
    • the ecological land classification and key terrain features, such as mountains, rivers, lakes and other important features;
    • the locations of any nearby communities and residences (permanent and temporary) and significant landmarks;
    • current local economy and trends;
    • current land and resource uses, including traditional land and resource uses;
    • the potential to encounter heritage resources;
    • the areas of physical and environmental constraints (e.g., biophysical, land use or natural resource use);
    • navigable waterways that may be affected by project components (e.g. temporary and permanent bridges, marine terminals and loading facilities;
    • consistency between the project and any regional land use plans;
    • any environmentally sensitive areas, sensitive habitats, or areas of special concern (e.g., existing and candidate protected areas), including those identified through public or Aboriginal consultation, which influence facility routing or site locations;
    • the locations of all proposed facilities; and
    • a list of projects and/or activities in the project area.

FYI – Additional information...

Where the current state of the environment has been significantly altered from the past, the applicant must describe:

  • (i) how far back in time past activities are relevant and
  • (ii) the past activities or past state of the environment.

This may be particularly relevant for assessing cumulative effects or identifying a baseline for reclamation goals (e.g., for restoring native vegetation).

  1. Describe which biophysical and socio-economic elements in the study area are of ecological, economic or human importance and require more detailed analysis taking into account the results of consultation (see Table 6-1  for examples). Where circumstances require more detailed information in an ESA, see:
    • i) Table 6-2, Information Requirements for Biophysical Elements; or
    • ii) Table 6-3, Information Requirements for Socio-Economic Elements.
  2. Provide supporting evidence (e.g., references to scientific literature, field studies, local and traditional knowledge, previous environmental assessment and monitoring reports) for:
    • information and data collected;
    • analysis completed;
    • conclusions reached; and
    • the extent of professional judgment or experience relied upon in meeting these information requirements, and the rationale for that extent of reliance.
  3. Describe and substantiate the methods used for any surveys such as those pertaining to wildlife, fisheries, plants, species at risk or species of special status, soils, heritage resources or traditional land use and for establishing the baseline setting for the atmospheric and acoustic environment. If the season for a particular survey was not optimal, discuss the limitations of survey results or indicate when and how additional surveys will be conducted.
  4. Applicants must consult with other expert federal, provincial or territorial departments and other relevant authorities on requirements for baseline information and methods.

Guidance

Study Area

The study area(s) must be of sufficient size to encompass the spatial boundaries of the project related facilities or activities (e.g., access roads, temporary and permanent bridges).

The study area must cover at least one kilometer on each side of the power line. It must also to be of sufficient size and orientation to encompass all areas where valued components may be affected by the project, for example:

  • areas downstream and immediately upstream;
  • areas in which the project may be within the range of vision;
  • species’ home ranges and migratory patterns;
  • affected communities and known or asserted areas of Aboriginal traditional land and resource use; and
  • areas in which infrastructure is affected or new or enhanced infrastructure would be needed.

Typically, the study area encompassing the above-noted areas extends beyond a narrow corridor or project site. Subsection 6.7.provides additional guidance on the study area for a cumulative effects assessment.

Source of Baseline Information

Baseline information must include both scientific information and local and traditional knowledge.

Information sources and data collection methods used for describing the baseline environmental and socio-economic setting may consist of:

  • field studies, including site-specific survey methods;
  • database searches, including of federal, provincial, territorial and local data banks;
  • sailing directions, recreational waterway guides, etc.
  • field measurements to gather data on ambient or background levels for air quality or acoustic environment;
  • remote sensing information;
  • literature reviews;
  • literature produced by government agencies and academic institutions;
  • renewable resource harvest data;
  • expert, community and traditional knowledge interviews (e.g., with regulatory agencies, Aboriginal groups, community and nature conservation groups, local outfitters and recreational organizations including navigation user groups, as well as with local residents, landowners and land users); and
  • statistical surveys, as applicable;

The validity and accuracy of the baseline information used in the ESA must be supported by:

  • describing and substantiating the sampling, survey and research protocols or techniques followed for each information source or data collection method used;
  • indicating that proper record-keeping practices have been implemented to maintain survey results for future reference, including measures to respect confidentiality of sensitive information contained in Aboriginal traditional land and resource use studies; and
  • wherever appropriate, quantifying and analyzing any statistical survey data obtained.

FYI – See also...

Additional guidance on baseline information for a cumulative effects assessment is provided in Subsection 6.7.1.


6.5.1 Identifying the Need for Detailed Biophysical and Socio-Economic Information

Additional biophysical and socio-economic information must be included with the application if there is evidence of public concern, or if any of the circumstances identified in Table 6-1 exist. Tables 6-2 and 6-3 describe the specific details that should be included.

Applicants are reminded that detailed information is only required for the elements that are identified as having potential environmental or socio-economic effects. Further, a clear and defensible explanation should be provided as to why any element in Table 6-1 is not addressed.

6.6 Effects Assessment

Goal

The application includes information on the potential bio-physical and socio-economic effects of the project, with sufficient detail to:

  • predict and analyze the nature and extent those effects;
  • identify mitigation options to protect the biophysical and socio-economic environment and analyze their effectiveness; and
  • determine the significance of any effects remaining following mitigation, including the significance of cumulative effects.

6.6.1 Identification and Analysis of Effects

Filing Requirements – Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects

  1. Describe the methods used to predict the potential effects of the project on the biophysical and socio-economic elements, and the effects of the environment on the project.

    This Manual assumes a valued component based approach to effects assessment where the application focuses on those biophysical or socio-economic elements, or a subset of those elements (see guidance below), that may be affected by a project and are of concern or value to the public and Aboriginal groups. Applicants must identify valued components for which effects are predicted and explain why and how the valued components were identified.

    If another method is used to assess potential effects on, the biophysical and socio-economic elements described in Tables 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3, then provide the details and rationale on the that method.

    Provide the details of any important aspects of uncertainty associated with the analysis.

    Where professional knowledge or experience is cited, describe the extent of professional judgment or experience relied upon, the rationale for that extent of reliance and how the resulting conclusions or decisions were reached.
  2. Predict the effects associated with the proposed project, including those that could be caused by construction, operations, decommissioning or abandonment, as well as accidents and malfunctions. Also include effects the environment could have on the project.

FYI - Reminder...

If there are no predicted interactions between project activities and a biophysical or socio-economic element, then no further analysis is necessary for the element. Instead, provide sufficient description of the project or setting to demonstrate why no interactions are predicted.

For those biophysical and socio-economic elements, or their valued component that require further analysis (see Table 6-1), provide the detailed information outlined in Tables 6-2 and 6-3. This must include, but is not limited to, a description and quantification of:

  • spatial and temporal boundaries for the effects analysis of each biophysical or socio-economic element or valued component associated with the project;
  • local and regional conditions of each biophysical or socio-economic element or valued component (i.e., location, distribution, abundance, status, sensitivity to the project, ability to recover, and natural variation of valued components, as appropriate), including how this is expected to change from baseline if the project were to proceed;
  • factors influencing change, the limiting factors, and the natural variation for each valued component, if known;
  • magnitude and reversibility of any predicted change from baseline conditions;
  • local, regional and federal management objectives (e.g., recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and land use plans) and thresholds, and identify how the effects of the project relate to such strategies, plans, objectives or thresholds;
  • methods used for any modelling, including the assumptions used and limitations of the models; and
  • information about reporting requirements for all levels of government (e.g., for GHGs), if applicable.

For each valued component, provide or reference any supporting information used in the project effects analysis, such as:

  • public comments;
  • consultations with other regulators and departments or agencies;
  • scientific literature;
  • local and traditional knowledge;
  • status reports;
  • approved recovery strategies, action plans and management plans for species at risk; and
  • follow-up studies and case studies from other projects.

Guidance - Identification and Analysis of Effects

The identification and analysis of project effects builds directly on scoping, the description of the environmental and socio-economic setting, and the level of detail considerations described above.

Typically, applicants use a valued component approach to focus the effects analysis on practical and representative components of the biophysical and socio-economic environment. Valued components could be the broad elements described in Tables 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3 or a representative subset of those elements. In that way, the analysis of potential effects focuses on the components of those biophysical or socio-economic elements where project-environment interactions are more readily assessable, and on the interactions that may be of concern to the public or Aboriginal groups (often termed Valued Environmental Components [VECs] or Valued Socio-Economic Components [VSCs]). The valued components selected must:

  • be indicative of predicted effects that could result from the project over time;
  • have baseline data available in order to determine the significance of effects; and
  • be able to reflect measurable changes that result from the project effects over time.

The analysis should result in an understanding of where uncertainty about project-environment interactions may exist, or where information gaps necessary to predict effects may remain.

Spatial and Temporal Boundaries

The spatial and temporal boundaries should:

  • be provided for each valued component, along with a rationale for selecting those boundaries;
  • include the area over which effects on valued components may occur. This area could include a  population boundary, home range, airshed, watershed, Aboriginal traditional land and resource use area, or municipal or regional planning district;
  • include the duration that each valued component may be affected;
  • consider the effects of the project on the valued component and the extent to which those effects are measurable;
  • include all phases of the project; and
  • not be constrained by jurisdictional boundaries.
Analysis

The analysis methods must be fully disclosed and meet the study needs. In addition to meeting the requirements of other regulations (e.g., Species at Risk Act [SARA], Migratory Bird Convention Act [MBCA], Fisheries Act, etc.), the analysis of project effects must take into account local, regional and federal policy or management objectives (e.g., recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and land use plans) and thresholds. Where there are no management objectives or thresholds, include information on the current state of knowledge on the valued component. After a review of the available literature, if the state of knowledge is incomplete or there is substantial uncertainty, identify any information gaps, and indicate if and how they will be filled. Where uncertainty exists about the project effects on a valued component, describe how the inspection and monitoring program will reduce the uncertainity.

Where there is applicable local and traditional knowledge, it must be included in the ESA. See Section 5.3 Consultation, for further details on consulting with Aboriginal persons and groups and gathering traditional knowledge.

Effects Assessment for Accidents and Malfunctions

The prevention of any accidents and malfunctions associated with NEB-regulated projects is the NEB’s goal. In the event an accident or malfunction does occur, the Board will hold its regulated companies accountable for an appropriate response under their Emergency Management Program.

The applicant’s ESA must identify and assess the effects on workers, the public, and biophysical and socio-economic elements of all potential accidents and malfunctions.

Accidents and malfunctions and associated emergencies can result from numerous events, including equipment failure, human error, natural perils such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, and terrorism or other criminal activities. Multi-hazard emergencies, such as an earthquake, may cause facility damage, fires and explosions, which result in injury and further property damage.

The level of detail provided on potential effects of accidents and malfunctions will depend on the:

  • type, scale, and location of the proposed project;
  • environmental and socio-economic sensitivities within potentially affected areas; and
  • extent to which an applicant’s existing Emergency Management Program and other plans and manuals address the issues and concerns about the proposed project.
Abandonment

The abandonment of an IPL requires an application to the Board.

For an application to construct and operate an IPL, the level of detail provided may be constrained by the uncertainties inherent with forecasting a phase of the project that may be several decades in the future.  However, an abandonment application should outline what project components would be removed and how the right of way would be returned to a state comparable with the surrounding environment.

6.6.2 Mitigation Measures

Filing Requirements

  • 1. Describe the general and specific mitigation measures and their effectiveness to address the project-specific effects, or clearly reference sections of company manuals that provide mitigation measures. Ensure that referenced manuals are current and have been filed with the NEB.

    FYI - Reminder...

    See Section 1.5 - Previously Filed Material, for guidelines on referring to information already filed with the Board.

    • If more than one mitigation measure is proposed as a possibility for any particular effect, provide the applicable criteria for selecting the mitigation to use, or describe how measures would be combined to mitigate against a single effect.
    • If new mitigation measures are to be used, provide any test results or a technically based rationale for their use and describe how their effectiveness will be evaluated.
    • Ensure mitigation measures are appropriate for the scale of impacts predicted.
    • If project effects cannot be avoided, mitigation must reduce or compensate for them.
    • Where an applicant hires a third party to prepare its ESA, provide a statement committing to adopting and implementing all mitigation recommendations included in the ESA. Explain any mitigation recommendations not adopted and provide alternative approaches, as appropriate.
    • Identify the conditions of approvals or permits required by other regulatory bodies related to the mitigation of environmental or socio-economic effects. Describe how commitments regarding mitigative measures will be communicated to field staff for implementation.
  • 2. Ensure that commitments about mitigative measures will be communicated to field staff for implementation through an Environmental Protection Plan (EP Plan). An EP Plan might be simple and concise for smaller, less complex projects but for certain projects (see guidance below), the NEB may require a comprehensive EP Plan. An EP Plan must include all environmental commitments specific to the project and include or cross-reference other plans and programs relied on. Describe any plans or programs that may be used to mitigate potential effects (e.g., waste management plans, invasive species plans, horizontal directional drill contingency plans, heritage resource discovery contingency plans, etc.).
  • 3. Describe plans and measures to address potential effects of accidents and malfunctions during construction and operation of the project (see guidance under Identification and Analysis of Effects, Accidents and Malfunctions in Subsection 6.6.1).

Guidance

Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures are:

  • developed during a project’s feasibility study;
  • developed during project design;
  • defined in the project plan;
  • refined as the ESA progresses and the project’s predicted environmental and socio-economic effects become more certain, and
  • may be standard or project-specific measures.

The identification and analysis of effects and mitigation measures may be presented together.

Mitigation Options

At the application stage of the proposed project many mitigation measures may still be tentative, subject to further detailed design and to site specific environmental conditions. For these cases the ESA should describe:

  • the different mitigative options available and being considered; and
  • the criteria that will be used for selecting the actual mitigation to be implemented.

Including the options and selection criteria for contingency measures in an EP Plan may avoid having to submit variance applications to the NEB if changes in field conditions require use of construction alternatives.

FYI - Reminder...

In some cases, the proposed route or site, route segments, facility design or construction methods may themselves be forms of environmental mitigation when compared to alternative routing, design or construction methods. This may be demonstrated in the application’s discussion of alternatives (see section 4.5) by:

  • identifying which design features and construction methods are considered to be mitigation;
  • identifying any alternatives that were considered to these features or methods and the proposed routing; and
  • providing a comparative analysis of the mitigation measures considered.
Environmental Protection Plan (EP Plan)

Although the NEB expects an EP Plan to be prepared for all projects, the size and scope of an EP Plan will vary. An EP Plan is specific to a project and is a tool to communicate a company’s environmental protection procedures and mitigation measures to employees, contractors, and regulators. The purpose of an EP Plan is to document and communicate all project-specific environmental commitments made by an applicant and the associated mitigation measures in a clear and user-friendly format.

The NEB may request a comprehensive EP Plan during the examination of an application, or as a condition of approval to be complied with before construction. The NEB may expect a comprehensive EP Plan to be filed under the following circumstances:

  • when the applicant does not have up-to-date company manuals on file with the NEB that document its environmental protecction procedures;
  • if site-specific or project-specific mitigation or protection measures are provided by the applicant as commitments to avoid or address predicted adverse environmental effects in the application; or
  • if the application and assessment process is lengthy or complex, and environmental protection measures and commitments are contained in several different places or documents (e.g., responses to information requests).

Comprehensive EP Plans are typically required for larger facility applications. In these circumstances, the NEB encourages companies to submit a draft EP Plan containing all preliminary environmental protection and mitigation measures with their application to assist the NEB in assessing the application. Should the project be approved, the NEB often requires the company to file an updated EP Plan before starting construction.

When preparing its EP Plan, an applicant should consider:

  • identifing specific goals for protecting environmental elements and addressing socio-economic elements;
  • describing the environmental protection objective for each goal, and providing mitigative options to meet those objectives based on site-specific conditions; and
  • providing decision-making criteria for choosing which measures and procedures to implement and under what circumstances for each objective.
Draft EP Plan

If a draft EP Plan is filed with the application, it should contain:

  • the purpose of the EP Plan, a summary of the project with a map, and a description of how environmental compliance would be achieved for the project;
  • the resource-specific mitigation to be applied for the project, and the general environmental protection measures for each phase of construction;
  • relevant construction specifications and drawings to execute environmental mitigation measures, and the corresponding environmental alignment sheets;
  • other more detailed plans as applicable (e.g., waste management plan, emergency and security management plans, contingency plans, and other element-specific management plans and programs);
  • the assignment of accountabilities and responsibilities for carrying out practices and procedures, making criteria-based decisions and confirming compliance with the Environmental Protection Program; and
  • a table of contacts for reporting environmental incidents as required by other regulators.
Final EP Plan

A final comprehensive EP Plan must:

  • include all items required in a draft EP Plan;
  • if relevant, include an amendment or concordance table detailing changes from the draft to final version of the EP Plan;
  • incorporate all environmental commitments made during the NEB application assessment process, including all requirements set out in permits, certificates, or any other authorizations;
  • include a copy of any NEB discussion or assessment of environmental matters as set out in or attached to the NEB certificate or permit;
  • include additional requirements as a result of season-specific field surveys conducted before construction;
  • include the GPS locations for environmentally-sensitive areas identified in the surveys; and
  • include updated environmental alignment sheets summarizing all pertinent environmental issues and the corresponding mitigation measures that will be implemented during construction.
Variances to the EP Plan

It is the responsibility of the company to apply to the Board for variances to the commitments made in the application, in the application assessment process or as required in the project approval conditions. It is therefore of benefit to the applicant to incorporate decision making criteria for choosing which measures and procedures to implement and under what circumstances. Where this is done, there may be sufficient flexibility to respond to changes that result in the field without filing a variance application.

Further information about variation applications can be obtained from the NEB Operations Project Manager assigned to the project or activity.

 Waste Management Plan

A waste management plan for the control of contaminated and non-contaminated waste from the project is required. The plan must describe the purpose of the plan, the types of waste anticipated, the resulting prevention and mitigation measures to be applied to manage that waste, and how any relevant reporting requirements will be met. The plan must also include a reporting structure, contact list and reference to other applicable legislation.

Mitigation for Potential Effects of Accidents and Malfunctions

An applicant’s programs, plans and manuals should be considered as part of its mitigation of potential effects of accidents and malfunctions.

There may also be project-specific plans and commitments an applicant should consider as part of its mitigation of potential effects of accidents and malfunctions. As noted in Section 6.1, these must also be incorporated into a company’s programs as appropriate.

6.6.3 Evaluation of Significance

Filing Requirements – Evaluation of Significance

  1. After taking into account any appropriate mitigation measures, identify any remaining residual effects from the project.
  2. Describe the methods and criteria used to determine the significance of adverse effects, including defining the point at which any particular effect on a valued component is considered “significant”.
  3. Evaluate the significance of residual adverse environmental and socio-economic effects against the defined criteria.
  4. Evaluate the likelihood of significant residual adverse environmental and socio-economic occuring and substantiate the conclusion made.

Guidance – Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance

Evaluating environmental and socio-econmic effects consists of assessing:

  • whether the effects are adverse;
  • whether the adverse effects are significant; and
  • whether the significant adverse effects are likely.

A common way for an applicant to assess a project's effects is to compare the quality of the existing environment with the predicted quality of the environment if the project is approved and built. The direction of change to the environment may be adverse, neutral or beneficial.

The following criteria may be useful in assessing the significance of a project’s adverse effects:

  • magnitude;
  • duration;
  • frequency;
  • geographic extent;
  • ecological context; and
  • reversibility or degree of permanence.

In applying these criteria to each residual effect, an applicant must define each criteria and the range considered within each criteria. To help evaluate the significance of a particular effect and define the point at which it becomes “significant”, consider providing rating attributes (e.g., low / moderate / high) for each significance criteria and defining the range of each attribute. An applicant must also describe how each criterion or combination of criteria was used to reach the applicant’s significance conclusion.

Definitions for rating criteria are expected to be quantitative and based on standards, guidelines, objectives or other established and accepted ecological thresholds. In the absence of any such references or regulatory guidance, or where these are not quantitative (e.g., it may not be appropriate to set thresholds to determine "acceptable levels of change", in relation to all socio-economic effects), then rating attribute definitions must be qualitative and based on available research literature. Applicants must also consider the level and nature of concerns raised by the public and address issues of concern to Aboriginal groups potentially affected by the project.

The significance of adverse effects could also be assessed by comparing effects to conformity requirements within approved land use plans or conducting a quantitative risk assessment.

Where professional judgement is used to determine the significance of adverse effects, the extent of reliance on professional judgement must be described and rationale for the extent of the reliance must be provided. An applicant’s ESA must provide an evaluation of the likelihood and significance of any adverse environmental effects, for consideration by the NEB.

Assessing the likelihood of significant adverse effects must be based on the probability of occurrence and state the level of scientific uncertainty. If a qualitative determination of the likelihood of significant adverse effects is used, provide a clear rationale and supporting information.

6.7 Cumulative Effects Assessment

Goal

The application must include information about the interaction between predicted residual environmental and socio-economic effects of the project and effects from other projects or activities that have been or will be carried out. This information must provide enough detail to:

  • identify and analyze cumulative environmental and socio-economic effects;
  • identify proposed mitigation measures to protect the environment and address socio-economic effects, and to analyze their effectiveness; and
  • evaluate the significance of any predicted cumulative effects.

6.7.1 Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects

Filing Requirements – Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects

  • 1. Identify the valued components for which residual effects are predicted, and describe and justify the methods used to predict any residual effects.

    FYI – Additional Information...

    Both significant and non-significant residual effects may contribute to cumulative effects and must be considered. Residual effects are those effects remaining after implementing the applicant’s mitigation measures. If the applicant can clearly demonstrate that no residual effects are predicted, further analysis of cumulative effects is not required.

  • 2. For each valued component where residual effects have been identified, describe and justify the spatial and temporal boundaries used to assess the potential cumulative effects.
  • 3. Identify other physical facilities or activities that have been or will be carried out within the identified spatial and temporal boundaries for the cumulative effects assessment.
  • 4. Identify whether the effects those physical facilities or activities that have been or will be carried out would be likely to produce effects on the valued components within the identified spatial or temporal boundaries.
  • 5. Where other physical facilities or activities may affect the valued components for which residual effects from the applicant’s proposed project are predicted, continue the a cumulative effects assessment as follows:
    • Consider the various components, phases and activities associated with the applicant’s project that could interact with other physical facilities or activities.
    • Provide a description of the extent of the cumulative effects on valued components.
    • Where professional knowledge or experience is cited, explain the extent to which professional knowledge or experience was relied upon and justify how the resulting conclusions or decisions were reached.

Guidance – Scoping and Analysis of Cumulative Effects

Cumulative Effects Assessment

Assessing cumulative effects typically requires the same method of analysis as described in the project-specific effects assessment. As discussed in Subsections 6.3 to 6.6., the baseline information, project description and project-specific mitigation measures already captured in the application must be provided in enough detail to characterize the extent of the residual effects of the project.

Subsection 6.6 and Tables 6-2 and 6-3 outline the type of information required for a project-specific effects assessment. Although the tables also make specific note of information required for a cumulative effects assessment for valued components, all information requirements contained in the tables should be evaluated, as appropriate, as a guide for applicants in completing a cumulative effects assessment.

A cumulative effects assessment differs from a conventional project-specific effects assessment in that it typically includes:

  • larger geographic study areas;
  • longer time frames;
  • environmental and socio-economic effects associated with physical facilities or activities that may not be directly related to the applied for project (e.g., upstream or downstream facilities not within the Board’s jurisdiction, a proposed highway project or residential sub-division in the study area, ongoing forestry or agricultural activities); and
  • spatial boundaries that are generally not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries.

The level of effort and scale of the cumulative effects assessment should be appropriate to:

  • the nature and context of the project under assessment;
  • its potential residual effects; and
  • the environmental and socio-economic setting (e.g., an increased level of detail may be required when rapid or intensive development of the region has occurred or is anticipated, or particular environmental or socio-economic sensitivities or risks are involved, such as significant Aboriginal traditional use).

Applicants should also consult the CEA Agency’s “Operational Policy Statement – Assessing Cumulative Environmental Effects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012”.

Other Physical Facilities or Activities

Provide clear reasoning, with supporting rationale, for selecting the other existing and future physical facilities or activities to be included within the cumulative effects assessment. When identifying other physical facilities or activities, include those physical facilities or activities likely to take place as opposed to those not reasonably foreseeable or hypothetical.

Consideration of other physical facilities or activities that have been or will be carried out within the defined spatial and temporal boundaries must, at a minimum, include:

  • existing projects and activities;
  • those physical facilities or activities for which formal plans or applications have been made or are likely to occur; and
  • other related project or activity development assumptions that support and are consistent with the long term economic or financial assumptions (Chapter 7) and engineering assumptions (Chapter 4) made in the application, even if formal plans or applications have not yet been made.

The Courts have said that the decisions of responsible authorities are not required to “consider fanciful projects by imagined parties producing purely hypothetical effects”Footnote 3. However, the NEB does have discretion to consider future development scenarios if it is reasonable to anticipate that the applied for project could contribute to the potential cumulative effects resulting from such future development (i.e. if the economic feasibility of the applied for project is contingent upon the future development). The extent to which an applicant must consider the effects associated with other future physical facilities and activities and the associated depth of analysis will depend upon the relative contribution of the applied for project to the predicted cumulative effects.

Where intensive or expansive development of the region is occurring or anticipated, details regarding the flexibility of project-specific mitigation and monitoring strategies become particularly important and should also be provided with the application to demonstrate the ability of the applicant to adapt its plans in the future should the resulting cumulative effects differ from those predicted (further Filing Requirements and Guidance for project related monitoring are provided in Subsection 6.8 below).

The Board recognizes that an applicant’s depth of analysis in assessing the effects associated with other future physical facilities and activities will depend on the feasibility and practicality of assessing those effects. For example, future effects associated with projects not within the direct control of the applicant and for which there is limited information, or which are still in early planning stages, are inherently more challenging to assess. Despite this, an applicant should use the best available information or undertake additional work to assess these potential effects. Any uncertainties associated with the information used and any assumptions or limitations associated with the analysis must be explained.

6.7.2 Mitigation Measures for Cumulative Effects

Filing Requirements – Mitigation Measures for Cumulative Effects

Describe the general and specific mitigation measures beyond project-specific mitigation already considered, that are technically and economically feasible to address any cumulative effects.

  • If appropriate, provide any additional mitigation measures being considered as alternatives to the preferred cumulative effects-specific measures (e.g., adaptive or contingency measures)
  • If more than one mitigation measure is available for any particular cumulative effect, then provide the criteria that would be applied to select the mitigation to use (e.g., for the application of contingency plans).
  • If new or unproven mitigation measures are to be used, provide any test results or a technically based rationale for their use and describe how their effectiveness would be evaluated.
  • Indicate the likelihood of success in reducing or avoiding cumulative effects by the application of the mitigation measures identified.

Guidance - Mitigation Measures for Cumulative Effects

Mitigation of cumulative effects may include broader-scale planning measures or initiatives to reduce interactions and effects from multiple projects or activities. Potentially effective mitigation of cumulative effects may not be within the direct control of, or undertaken by, the applicant. For example, operators may have cooperation plans in place to prevent simultaneous occurrence of activities or projects, or multiple operators may cooperatively make use of existing disturbed areas to prevent new disturbances. Further, regional-level multi-stakeholder planning initiatives may also be evaluated as a means to mitigate cumulative effects. Where such measures or initiatives are in place, an applicant should clearly explain why the identified mitigation would be appropriate to mitigate any cumulative effects. If the mitigation is not within the direct control of the applicant, it should state who would implement the mitigation and how that responsible party intends to monitor implementation of the mitigation.

Various forms of compensation (e.g. habitat offsets) should also be considered as part of an applicant’s proposed mitigation, as appropriate.

If monitoring or research programs are identified as a means to adaptively manage cumulative effects, the applicant should explicitly identify how those programs will be used to avoid or reduce effects (i.e., which management actions will be triggered when certain ecological or socio-economic effects are identified, or thresholds reached).

6.7.3 Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance of Cumulative Effects

Filing Requirements – Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance of Cumulative Effects

  1. After taking into account any appropriate mitigation measures for cumulative effects, identify the remaining residual cumulative effects.
  1. Describe the methods and criteria used to determine the significance of remaining adverse cumulative effects, including defining the point at which each identified cumulative effect on a valued component is considered “significant”.
  2. Evaluate the significance of adverse residual cumulative effects against the defined criteria. If the total cumulative effect on a given valued component is considered significant, describe the incremental increase in total cumulative effects caused by the project.
  3. Evaluate the likelihood of significants, residual adverse cumulative environmental and socio-economic effects occuring and substantiate the conclusions.

Guidance – Applicant’s Evaluation of Significance of Cumulative Effects

Refer to section 6.6.3 for guidance on evaluating the likelihood and significance of adverse residual environmental and socio-economic effects on a project-specific basis. The key difference between determining the significance of project-specific effects versus cumulative effects is the consideration of other physical facilities and activities. The evaluation of significance must focus on the total cumulative effect that may be created from all physical facilities and activities considered in combination with the proposed project. The definition of significance must be clearly explained and take into account local, regional and federal policy and management objectives (e.g. recovery strategies, action plans, management plans and land-use plans) and thresholds.

6.8 Inspection, Monitoring and Follow-up

Goal

The application describes the environmental protection plans and programs that will be in place to anticipate, prevent, mitigate and manage potentially adverse environmental effects over the life of the project.

Filing Requirements

  1. Describe inspection plans to ensure compliance with biophysical and socio-economic commitments in sufficient detail to demonstrate adequacy and effectiveness. Plans must:
    • identify those positions accountable and responsible for monitoring and ensuring environmental compliance;
    • reference inspection procedures, and describe any accountability and reporting structure for environmental inspectors; and
    • describe minimum qualifications and experience, including training requirements of individuals who will be undertaking inspection and monitoring responsibilities.
  2. Describe the surveillance and monitoring program for the protection of the IPL, the public and the environment The monitoring program must be sufficiently detailed to demonstrate its adequacy and effectiveness and must include
    • methods for:
      • i) identifying and tracking environmental and socio-economic issues;
      • ii) resolving any environmental and socio-economic issues specific to the project, including any sampling programs or site-specific investigations as appropriate; and
      • iii) monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation and reclamation, based on established reclamation criteria (see requirements of individual elements in Table 6-2) as well as the applicant’s performance measures and targets for each mitigation measure;
    • a description of the frequency or schedule for implementing the procedures listed above; and
    • the criteria for assignithe criteria for assigning specific monitoring procedures to certain environmental and socio-economic issues.ng specific monitoring procedures to certain environmental and socio-economic issues.
  3. Consider any particular elements in the Application that are of greater concern and evaluate the need for a more in-depth monitoring program for those elements.
  4. For CEA Act designated physical activities, identify which elements and monitoring procedures would constitute follow-up under the CEA Act 2012.

Guidance

The NEB recognizes three categories of verification conducted by the applicant. These apply both during and upon completion of construction through the life of the facility:

  • Inspections to confirm both implementation of commitments made during the application process and fulfillment of NEB-approval conditions to promote safety, security and environmental protection;
  • Monitoring to confirm if mitigation objectives for a specific project, program, or the continued operation of the project have been met; and
  • Identify and address any potential short term and long term issues or effects experienced, but not predicted.

A more rigorous type of monitoring program to confirm the effectiveness of an element-specific program may be appropriate when:

  • the project or activity is contributing to regional issues of concern;
  • the project involves new or unproven technology or is not routine in nature;
  • the project involves uncertain effects;
  • the project involves new or unproven mitigation measures whose effectiveness is uncertain;
  • a familiar or routine project is proposed in a new or unfamiliar environmental and socio-economic setting;
  • there is some uncertainty about the conclusions of the ESA.

A condition on the project certificate or order may be imposed to require the applicant to file post-construction monitoring reports after the completion of construction. The time period for required reporting can vary, but typically ranges from one to five years following the commencement of project operations. Projects requiring a longer period of time to reach reclamation goals (e.g., work in areas difficult to revegetate, such as native prairie) or requiring an in-depth, element-specific program may be required to submit monitoring reports of greater scientific rigour or over a longer time period.

  • For CEAA 2012 designated physical activities, follow-up on identified elements or issues of concern to:
    • verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment; and
    • determine the effectiveness of any measures taken to mitigate the adverse effects of the project.

Follow-up would generally be an in-depth, scientifically rigorous program.

Revisions to Applicant Plans and Programs

The NEB encourages applicants to use its current and relevant plans and programs to support the inspection, monitoring and follow-up components of its application. If these plans or programs have been previously filed with the Board, provide the document title, version number, latest revision date, date of filing and the NEB file number. Refer to Section 1.7 for more information regarding these documents. If a project is approved, applicants must file any updates required to incorporate the approved project.

Table 6-2:
Filing Requirements for Biophysical Elements

FYI – Reminder...

Filing Requirements for an effects assessment are described in Subsections 6.5 and Table 6-1 in Subsection 6-4 provides examples of the circumstances and interactions that lead to the need for detailed information and considers all phases of an applied for project (construction, operation, maintenance and abandonment), including the potential for accidents and malfunctions during each phase.Table A-2 was designed to assist applicants in identifying the required information specific to individual biophysical elements.The elements and circumstances described in the tables are not exhaustive.

Applicants must adapt the framework below to logically present the detail and analysis of their particular projects. Where project effects may overlap different element categories, it may be appropriate to define a more suitable or specific element or valued component. For example, where there is a risk of soil contamination reaching groundwater, then “groundwater contamination” might be an appropriate element to assess. This could more accurately focus on the issue of concern, avoid repeating information under both soils and water categories, and provide a more focused assessment.

Physical and Meteorological Environment
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe the general topography of the project area and any particular physical features crossed by the project or which may affect the project.
  2. Identify any areas of ground instability.
  3. Identify areas of potential wind or water erosion.
  4. Describe the local and regional climate. Also identify the potential for extreme weather events such as wind, precipitation, and temperature extremes :
    • freezing rain or ice storms;
    • precipitation extremes;
    • high winds (including tornadoes); and
    • hot and cold temperature extremes.
  5. Identify any areas with potential for acid-generating rock and describe the effects if exposed as a result of the project.
  6. Describe how local or regional physical and meteorological conditions could affect the project including how changing conditions may affect the project over the lifetime of the project.

This section provides information on factors or elements of importance that may affect project design.

  • Give special consideration to the following components which may be either directly or indirectly affected by the project or which may impact project design:
  • unstable slopes or other unfavourable geotechnical conditions including areas with the potential for landslides, mudflows, slumping, subsidence.
  • seismicity;
  • flooding, migrating watercourses and eroding banks;
  • extreme weather events;
  • seasonal and peak flow regime at stream crossings;
  • river ice processes and potential ice jams;
  • permafrost; and
  • areas with acid rock.

Local and regional climate should be described in terms of the range of its variability and the severity (i.e. frequency and durations of maximums and minimums) as well as its averages.

In regions with potential for extreme weather events, describe and assess these events terms of:

  • their frequency and intensity;
  • the maximum expected loading (ice or wind) on the proposed facility; and
  • extreme heat and any resulting conductor sag should also be considered;

Describe how any applicable design standards reduce the potential threat (also see the Filing Requirements contained in Subsection 4.2.1 Engineering Design Principles).

Meteorological  impacts must be considered in the context of:

  • climate variability and trends (including changes in extreme weather events);
  • winter ground conditions; and
  • areas where warming trends may influence hydrologic conditions such as runoff.

In areas where permafrost regimes exist:

  • identify and quantify permafrost conditions, including:
    • discontinuous permafrost;
    • high ice content soils;
    • thaw sensitive slopes; and
    • riparian areas;
  • develop baselines for:
    • near-surface ground temperatures;
    • active-layer conditions;
    • slope stability; and
    • movement potential on the approaches to river crossings.
  • describe how any changes in the permafrost regime may affect the project over its lifetime.
Soil and Soil Productivity
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe general soil characteristics and the current level of disturbance associated with soils.
  2. For agricultural lands or forested lands with agricultural capability, describe:
    • the soil classification, including the order, group, family, series and type of soil prior to construction and quantify the soil classification;
    • the productivity of land and the type of agricultural resource;
    • the soil types in the study area that are highly susceptible to:
      • i) wind and water erosion;
      • ii) soil compaction; and
      • iii) loss of structure and tilth;
    • any other soil types needing specific management or mitigation measures; and
    • soil conservation and protection measures.
  3. Describe any contaminants of concern potentially associated with the project that may affect soil.
  4. Describe the historical land use to determine the potential for contamination of soils or sediments. Describe any known or suspected soil contamination within the study area that could be re-suspended, released or otherwise disturbed as a result of and during the life of the project.
  5. If sediments or soils are contaminated, describe the applicable regulatory standards and all remediation, mitigation and monitoring measures that will be undertaken.
  6. Describe the criteria for evaluating reclamation success. Explain how this evaluation would be undertaken and documented. Reclamation measures could include, where applicable:
    • erosion control, other than re-vegetation;
    • soil reclamation;
    • drainage tile repair;
    • soil compaction alleviation; and
    • soil salinity reduction.

Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Soil profile descriptions for dominant soil types must consider:

  • soil horizons;
  • thickness of horizons;
  • texture;
  • colour;
  • chemical properties; and
  • organic content.

The soils assessment and mitigative plan should give consideration to the following:

  • soil salvage techniques (e.g., soil stripping including proposed width, grubbing, and alternative soil handling techniques);
  • soil separation maintenance measures;
  • erosion control measures, including drawings of proposed techniques (e.g., particularly at watercourse crossings);
  • wind erosion and wet soil shutdown procedures; and
  • soil compaction prevention measures.

Where there is a potential for human health effects see Table 6-3.

Where soil contamination is suspected or may be present, consider the guidance provided in the Canadian Standards Association’s (CSA) Z768-01 and Z769-00 standards for Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments. In addition, the NEB’s Remediation Process Guide (2011) may also be of value.

Additional guidance is available at the following sites:

  • The Canadian Soil Information Service (under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) provides access to soils information, including the Canadian System of Soil Classification which describes current accepted standards for soil classification in Canada.
  • The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (including Soil Quality guidelines).

 

Vegetation
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. For lands where vegetation may affect or be affected by the project, describe:
    • the pre-project diversity, relative abundance and distribution of vegetation species and communities of ecological, economic or human importance (e.g., traditional use, tame pasture, native prairie, wetland or old growth), prior to construction;
    • the conservation status applicable to any particular species or communities;
    • the current level of disturbance associated with vegetation; and
    • the amount, merchantability and location of any merchantable timber to be removed during project construction.
  2. Describe any weed infestations and other invasive and introduced species of concern.
  3. Describe re-vegetation procedures to be implemented as part of the project including:
    • re-vegetation techniques and the locations where they would be implemented;
    • seed mixes to be used, their application rates, and the locations for their application, or the criteria for determining these specifications, and a discussion of the use of seed certificates;
    • any fertilizers to be used, their application rates and locations, or the criteria for determining these specifications; and
    • contingency planting and seeding plans that include a description of any species of vegetation to be replanted, the locations for replanting, or the criteria for determining these specifications.
  4. Describe the vegetation standards and control to be implemented while constructing and operating the project. Describe any integrated vegetation management program including:
    • the criteria and circumstances for applying  chemical, biological or mechanical control methods;
    • the selection of plant species to be kept and planted to promote naturally low growing plant communities; and
    • the use of herbicides, tree growth regulators or other chemicals, their application rates and protocols.
  5. Describe the condition(s) to which the RoW and temporary work space will be reclaimed and maintained once construction has been completed. Explain the extent to which the ROW needs to be kept cleared or could be left to grow and provide the criteria relied on to determine this.
  6. Describe criteria for evaluating reclamation success related to vegetation and how this evaluation would be undertaken and documented.

The description of vegetated lands does not include industrial lands.

Vegetation community must apply the most relevant and up to date ecological classification or mapping system. Reference any available provincial or territorial inventory and mapping standards and guidelines.

Consultations with potentially affected Aboriginal groups may provide further information. Conservation status (provincial and COSEWIC) of ecological communities as well as plant species must be noted.

Explain how communities in the study area were delineated (i.e., existing mapping, remote sensing interpretation, or field mapping).

Indicate the date of spatial data collection.

Provide justification if field work was not carried out.

The effects analysis on vegetation must consider factors such as:

  • change in vegetation cover caused by the project;
  • alternatives to clearing the entire ROW (include options and decision criteria for retaining vegetation in order to break lines of sight, control access, maintain wildlife corridors, maintain habitat connectivity, reduce fragmentation and reducing overall cumulative effects);
  • weed control measures (e.g., prevention, treatment);
  • avoidance of any sensitive or rare communities and important individuals (e.g., vegetation important to wildlife); and
  • seed mixes and replanting for re-vegetation purposes.

Native and indigenous species adapted to local conditions should be used when the goal of revegetation is to naturalize or regenerate the area.

Vegetation management standards should consider:

  • maximum conductor sag;
  • minimum clearance requirements between conductors and the ground and adjacent trees;
  • terrain and built features; and
  • the wire area directly under the conductors, the adjacent border area within the RoW and vegetation adjacent to the RoW.

Vegetation control programs, including the frequency of work, monitoring and inspection of RoW vegetation conditions, and control procedures, must consider:

  • the nature of the vegetation cover (e.g.,  species mix, characteristics) occuring along the RoW, and variations over different biogeographical areas;
  • the promotion or inhibition of different plant communities (naturally low or slow growing plant species versus predominantly tall or fast growing species); and
  • the application of other integrated vegetation management practices.

If herbicides or other chemicals may be used, consider:

  • the criteria for their use;
  • the concentrations, rates and methods of application;
  • their specificity and potential adverse environmental effects; and
  • referring to material safety data sheets.
Water Quality and Quantity
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Provide a project-specific water use assessment  identifing and describing the water resources and the quality of those resources potentially affected by the project, including: any need for water withdrawn from local waterbodies, the purpose, the quantities required, the waterbodies used as a supply source, the flow rate or volume of water available in the waterbody and how and where waste water would be discharged.
  2. Describe any contaminants of concern potentially associated with the project that may affect water quality.
  3. Describe any interactions between the project and groundwater. Where there is interaction:
    • describe any potential changes in groundwater flows and any subsequent effects from the changes; and
    • identify any wells nearby, providing criteria for the spatial boundary considered, and describe the potential for well water quantity and quality to be affected.
  4. Describe mitigation for any potential effects on surface-, ground- or well-water quantity and quality, including the need for any specific pre- and post-construction monitoring
  5. Describe any applicable water management plans.
Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The effects analysis regarding quality or quantity of ground or surface water (e.g., lakes, watercourses, riparian areas or man-made water bodies or structures) should consider factors:

  • withdrawal or discharge needs for the proposed project, and
  • any potential inter-basin transfers that might introduce undesirable biota.

Project interactions with groundwater may result from crossing a shallow water table or specific project activities (e.g., blasting). In these cases, consider the spatial extent and depth levels as well as water characteristics (e.g., salinity)

If there is potential for contaminants affecting water resources, consider sediment or groundwater sampling for assessment of contaminants.

Where there is a potential for human health effects see Table 6-3.

Additional guidance:

  • The CCME’s Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (including Water Quality).
  • Health Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
Fish and Fish Habitat
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Identify fish species in the study area including:
    • their life stages,
    • their contribution to local fisheries, and
    • their ecological importance.
  2. Describe the seasonal ranges, seasonal sensitive periods, habitat use, movements, and general population status of fish species identified above.
  3. Identify any fisheries policies, or other measures to protect and enhance fish and fish habitat, including protected areas in and near the study area.
  4. Identify the need for Harmful Alteration Disruption or Destruction (HADD) authorization under subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act and discuss any oral or written communication with Fisheries and Oceans Canada ((DFO) (e.g., letter of advice) or any other applicable DFO guidance document.
  5. Describe, in detail, sensitive areas and sensitive habitats, including wetlands and riparian habitat.
  6. Where fish-bearing watercourses would not be directionally drilled or bored, either describe and justify the watercourse-crossing techniques to be used or the criteria for determining the techniques proposed for each watercourse crossing.
  7. Describe the timing of any instream work, including restricted activity periods and windows.
  8. Describe the condition(s) to which the watercrossings and riparian zones would be reclaimed and maintained once construction has been completed.
  9. Describe criteria for evaluating success of reclamation of fish-bearing water bodies and their banks as well as riparian areas. Describe how and when this evaluation would be undertaken and documented.

Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Applicants should work with the relevant fisheries authorities to identify issues and appropriate mitigative measures and, where appropriate, Aboriginal groups.

Where a HADD authorization is required from DFO, outline any appropriate habitat compensation measures and provide any further comments from DFO.

Where effects on fish and fish habitat may affect human health effects, see Table 6-3.

DFO has several guidance documents and information pieces that could be useful in dealing with fish and fish habitat. Please refer to the DFO National website for applicable materials and guidance.

Wetlands
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Quantify delineate and describe wetlands in the context of:
    • wetland class, ecological community type and conservation status;
    • abundance at local, regional and provincial scales;
    • distribution; and
    • current level of disturbance.
  2. Identify and describe wetland capacities to perform hydrological, water quality, habitat, or other ecological functions.
  3. Identify a regional study area of sufficient size to capture effects on wetlands within the larger drainage area. Include wetlands located outside of the local study area that may be affected by hydrological changes as a result of cumulative effects.
  4. Detail the efforts to be taken to avoid impacting wetlands, mitigation, monitoring and any applicable compensation measures, for potentially affected wetlands.
Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Wetlands include bogs, fens, marshes, swamps and shallow waters as defined in the Canadian Wetland Classification System (National Wetlands Working Group, 1997).

The effects analysis regarding wetlands must consider any potential loss of wetland function.

A higher level of assessment may be required for provincially or territorially significant wetlands for wetlands of significance to Aboriginal groups or for features of significance. Discuss any applicable provincial or territorial classification schemes, and protection policies and requirements.

Applicants should consult with Environment and Climate Change Canada regarding mitigation for wetlands.

Additional guidance:

Useful information sources accessible from Environment and Climate Change Canada include:

  • The Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation;
  • The Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation Implementation Guide;
  • Wetland Ecological Functional Assessment: An Overview of Approaches; and
  • Wetlands Environmental Assessment Guideline.
Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Identify wildlife species of ecological, economic or human importance in the study area. Also describe the:
    • diversity, distribution and location;
    • abundance and population status;
    • life cycle;
    • seasonal ranges (e.g., migration);
    • habitat requirements;
    • movements (e.g., wildlife corridors); and
    • sensitive periods (e.g., seasonal, diurnal and nocturnal)
  • With respect to birds in the area, describe:
    • the species’ vulnerability to collisions with overhead conductors;
    • any monitoring of bird strikes with existing nearby powerlines and the findings from this;
    • the findings from studies on the effectiveness of diverters or other proposed mitigations for the particular birds of relevance;
    • the design with respect to the risk of electrocution of birds;
    • any proposed mitigation and monitoring, and the rationale for these; and
    • any comments received from the Canadian Wildlife Service and any local birding group.
  1. For the wildlife identified, describe and quantify the habitat type including its:
    • function;
    • location;
    • suitability;
    • structure;
    • diversity;
    • relative use; and
    • abundance as it exists prior to project construction.
  2. Describe any lands in the study area that might constitute sensitive areas and habitat for wildlife, or nearby environmentally-significant areas such as National Parks, areas of natural or scientific interest, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries or other important bird areas or sanctuaries, National Wildlife Areas, or World Biosphere Reserves.
  3. Identify wildlife management areas and established or proposed sanctuaries or other areas in or near the study area.
  4. Describe the levels of disturbance currently affecting wildlife and habitat, such as habitat fragmentation and the extent of human access and use.

Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Further, with respect to cumulative effects:

  1. Describe the cumulative disturbance footprint of proposed and future physical facilities and activities within known key habitats (e.g., migration corridors, denning or calving areas, feeding areas) and distribution of that footprint, quantitatively where possible. Describe the effects on the connectivity of key habitats.
  2. Describe the cumulative effects on wildlife that could occur as a result of the timing of the proposed project in combination with other physical facilities or activities.
  3. Describe how cumulative changes in access would affect wildlife mortality risk or habitat quantity and quality.

Compare the cumulative effect on each species assessed to any available species-specific thresholds or policies, and indicate to what degree a threshold is approached or exceeded.

The identification and description of wildlife presence in the area must include, but not be limited to, resident, temporary (e.g., migratory) unique species or populations, and umbrella and keystone species. Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates may be relevant. The identification and description of wildlife of human importance must also consider consumptive (e.g., hunting, harvesting) and non-consumptive (e.g., bird-watching) values, as well as species of importance to potentially affected Aboriginal groups.

The identification, description and quantification of habitat must include, but not be limited to:

  • breeding or rutting grounds,
  • nesting and denning sites;
  • wintering grounds;
  • hibernation or hibernaculum sites;
  • moulting, migration and staging areas;
  • movement corridors;
  • mineral licks; and
  • trees important to wildlife (e.g., bat trees).

Other sensitive areas and habitats include:

  • wetlands (and associated upland habitats);
  • riparian habitat;
  • forest interior habitat;
  • old growth ; and
  • grassland / native prairie.

The effects analysis regarding wildlife and wildlife habitat must consider factors such as:

  • ecosystem functions;
  • the timing of construction activities in relation to sensitive periods for wildlife (e.g., migratory bird breeding season);
  • varying degrees of wildlife habitat loss;
  • changes in habitat quality (e.g., fragmentation, edge effects);
  • changes in human access;
  • disturbance to wildlife, including sensory (light and noise) disturbance from operation of above-ground facilities, including on birds and nocturnal species; and,
  • direct and indirect wildlife mortality.

Ensure spatial boundaries for the study area and assessment are specific to the valued component and ecologically defensible (e.g., winter range boundaries, migration routes, fawning and calving areas).

When calculating the disturbance footprint or linear disturbance density, remember to include the total avoidance area experienced by the valued component, which may be considerably larger than the physical footprint itself depending on the valued component.

Temporal considerations are also relevant. For example, effects on wildlife from noise and sensory disturbance, water usage or divergence, or waste stream emissions to air, land or water can be exacerbated by having a number of projects taking place simultaneously (or continuously over more than one season) in a watershed, breeding area or migratory pathway.

Increased access to project areas, whether temporary or permanent, affects wildlife habitat, populations, distribution and interactions. Access may include not only human access but increased ease of access by predators or competing species.

Examples of tools that may be used to assess cumulative effects on valued components include scenario-based models, spatial analysis using a geographic information system, and landscape level indicators of change (e.g., linear density) (see the CEA Agency’s Cumulative Effects Practitioners Guide, 1999).

Applicants should note the requirements of applicable provincial, territorial and federal regulations (e.g., the federal Migratory Birds Regulations).

Additional guidance:

Environment and Climate Change Canada and its Divisions (e.g., Canadian Wildlife Service) are sources of relevant information on:

  • wildlife and wildlife habitat;
  • Acts and Regulations, including the Migratory Birds Convention Act;
  • locations of National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries; and
  • environmental assessment guides, including:
    • Environmental Assessment Guideline for Forest Habitat of Migratory Birds;
    • Migratory Birds Environmental Assessment Guideline;
    • Wetlands Environmental Assessment Guideline;
    • Environmental Assessment Best Practice Guide for Wildlife at Risk in Canada; and
    • relevant Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series publications.

The Important Bird Areas database may be accessed through Bird Studies Canada or Nature Canada.

Species at Risk or Species of Special Status
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. For effects related to wildlife, fish and plant species at risk or species of special status:
    • identify the species and their status;
    • provide the appropriate references to the SARA Schedules, or Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), provincial or territorial listing;
    • identify their habitat(s), including any critical habitat(s) identified in a Recovery Strategy or an Action Plan listed on the SARA public registry;
    • determine whether the species, its critical habitat, or the residences of those species could be affected by project activities;
      • if no, explain why not;
      • if yes, describe any potential effects;
      • identify any critical timing windows (e.g., denning, rutting or spawning) setback distances, or restrictions;
      • identify if a provincial, territorial or federal (e.g., SARA) permit will be required; and
      • identify any proposed mitigative measures (e.g., improved project design or construction timing or comprehensive plan).
  2. Where the project may result in the destruction of any part of the critical habitat of a wildlife species listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, describe:
    • any discussions with the appropriate Federal Authority (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada) on obtaining a permit under section 73 of the SARA;
    • all reasonable alternatives to the project that would avoid the effect on the species’ critical habitat; and
    • all feasible measures that will be taken to minimize the effect of the work or activity on the species’ critical habitat.

Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical works or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Many rare species (e.g., endangered or threatened species under the SARA) are at risk in large part as a result of the past cumulative effects on their population or habitat. Their inclusion on official lists reflects their status as having crossed a threshold requiring special actions for their protection and recovery. Any additional residual effects have the potential to further contribute to this existing situation. Consequently, proposed projects must preferably avoid, or fully mitigate or compensate for any residual project contribution to cumulative effects.

Status refers to designation under federal, provincial or territorial legislation or guidelines (e.g., extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern).

Consult the SARA public registry for Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, and Schedules 2 and 3. Consult with Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or Parks Canada on Species at Risk or their critical habitat in the study area.

Where critical habitat has not been defined, field studies may be necessary, as well as identifying, with federal, provincial or territorial authorities, mitigation measures that effectively avoid sensitive interaction periods or activities. Field surveys may be useful in identifying mitigation needs or locally common populations not substantially affected.

For species at risk listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, the proposed mitigative measures must be consistent with any applicable Recovery Strategies and Action Plans listed on the SARA public registry.

Consult with appropriate provincial or territorial authorities on species listed under those jurisdictions.

For species at risk with no recovery strategy or action plan, applicants should use the best available information, such as COSEWIC status reports, draft recovery strategies or action plans, existing plans or input from the recovery team and specific advice (or management plans) from any jurisdiction that manages the species. Describe how measures to avoid, fully mitigate or compensate project effects would align with the best available information. When relying on compensation plans, describe the details of consultation with relevant experts, the options available, and criteria for selecting the options relied on, and for assessing the adequacy (sufficiency and validity) of any compensation measures or offsets.

Applicants should conduct a thorough inventory of all areas potentially affected by the project that are expected to support any species at risk or species of special status. Consult federal, provincial, territorial, regional and local databases (e.g., conservation data centres) and any other information associated with species of special status. Species data in existing databases may not be systematically collected or updated and, therefore, a database search may not be sufficient to support a conclusion about the absence of a species in the area.

Additional guidance, including direction to relevant federal, provincial, territorial and other related information, is available from the COSEWIC and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Air Quality
Filing Requirements Guidance

For effects, or public concerns, associated with dust or emissions from construction activities:

  • provide an overview of concern; and
  • provide a qualitative assessment.
Where there is a potential for effects on aesthetics or human health see Table 6-3.
Acoustic Environment
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Where there is a public concern associated with an increase in noise levels during construction, provide a noise impact assessment, including an overview of the concerns.
  2. For projects that result or may result in an increase in noise emissions during operations or maintenance:
    • Describe existing ambient noise levels in the area, including the methods and data sources used to determine the ambient levels;
    • Identify the potentially affected receptors and permissible sound levels for each receptor;
    • quantify noise levels at appropriate distances from the facility (e.g. at edges of RoW/facility and at the affected receptors) and describe the frequency, duration and character of noise;
    • provide the predicted sound levels from the project alone and predicted cumulative sound levels in combination with other existing and future physical facilities and  activities in the area, including an assessment of low frequency noise;
    • describe consultation with regulators, stakeholders, community groups, landowners and Aboriginal communities about potential effects of the project on the acoustic environment;
    • identify and justify the applicable guidelines used to determine the significance of the effects of the predicted emissions associated with the project;
    • provide a noise management plan, including identification of noise sources, an assessment of current noise mitigation measures, performance effectiveness of noise control devices, best practices programs and continuous improvement programs; and
    • identify the need for a follow-up monitoring for the purposes of validation of the model or as a result of any concerns raised by the public.
Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The effects assessment must consider:

  • any effects from inaudible noise (e.g., low frequency noise); and
  • the effects of noise on wildlife.

Noise management plans must consider:

  • notification of nearby residences and local authorities of plans and procedures for preventing and managing noise.

Where there is a potential for human health effects see Table 6-3.

Additional  guidance:

  • Energy Resources Conservation Board’s Directive 038:  Noise Control (ERCB Directive 038)
  • Alberta Utilities Commission’s Rule 012 – Noise Control (AUC Rule 012)
  • British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission’s British Columbia Noise Control Best Practices Guideline
For projects in provinces with no guidelines, please refer to ERCB Directive 038 or AUC Rule 012, whichever is the most appropriate.
Electromagnetism & Corona Discharge
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. For operating voltages above 240 kV, describe:
    • the levels of noise,
    • ozone concentration,
    • electric field gradient and magnetic field strength expected at the edge of the right-of-way at maximum loading of the international power line,
    • the predicted electromagnetic field levels and
    • any relevant standards.
  2. Identify the potential for any electromagnetic interference with radio and television signals and reception, under fair and foul weather conditions at maximum load. Describe the area potentially affected, the frequency and duration of occurrence, and any applicable standards.
  3. Describe potential induction effects on other infrastructure operators. Where this could affect existing operations describe any authorizations required and consultations with potentially affected infrastructure operators and how any concerns raised will be addressed.

Where there is a potential for human health effects see Table 6-3.

Describe noise associated with corona discharge from power lines during periods of foul weather, describe:

  • the frequency of foul weather periods and how these are defined;
  • predicted audible noise levels for both fair and foul weather periods, at appropriate distances from the facility (e.g. at edges of RoW and at nearest or most affected receptors).

With respect to electromagnetic field level, describe quantitatively:

  • ambient conditions;
  • distances to edge of RoW, nearest residences, schools and other public institutions;
  • modelling and prediction of environmental conditions during construction and operations at the above distances; and
  • distance to where predicted conditions would meet any applicable standards, and populations within that radius.
Table 6-3:
Filing Requirements for Socio-Economic Elements
Human Occupancy and Resource Use
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe the general patterns of human occupancy and resource use in the study area.
  2. Describe the potential interactions of the project with local and regional human occupancy and resource development activities. Include effects the project may have on the maintenance of those activities and on the livelihood of local workers, business owners and operators.
  3. Describe the goals of any applicable local or regional land use plans or local or regional development plans and the extent with which the project aligned with such plans.
  4. Identify predicted impacts of the project on the quality and quantity of ground or surface water used for domestic, commercial, agricultural or recreational uses.
  5. Identify any predicted visual or other aesthetic effects of the project on existing land use in the study area.
  6. Identify any predicted effects of the project on livestock health and productivity.
  7. Describe any site specific and project wide mitigation to address identified effects.
Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The assessment of potential impacts on human occupancy and resource use must evaluate:

  • rural and urban residential areas (includes both year-round and seasonally occupied facilities), Indian Reserve Lands, Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal traditional territories;
  • agricultural areas (including specialty crops, orchards and vineyards);
  • health and productivity of livestock; agricultural areas (including specialty crops, orchards and vineyards);
  • recreation and park areas (including local and provincial or territorial parks and recognized scenic areas);
  • lands under Parks Canada's jurisdiction, conservation areas, International Biological Program Sites or other ecological reserves or preserves;
  • industrial and commercial areas;
  • controlled or managed forest areas (including agreement forests and timber sales areas);
  • registered or recognized hunting, trapping or guiding areas and commercial and sport fishing areas;
  • water reserves and licences, and water supply sources or intakes for agricultural, industrial, commercial, residential and municipal users; and
  • transportation infrastructure which, in addition to road and rail infrastructure, would also include navigable waterways.

The project should be assessed for compatibility with local and regional land use and development plans. Where “multiple-use” is permitted, it should also be assessed for compatibility with existing uses.

If there is a predicted effect on the use of traditional territory or potential or established treaty or Aboriginal rights, refer to the Traditional Land and Resource Use element within this table. If there is a predicted effect on a bio-physical component (e.g. Water Quality and Quantity, Acoustic Environment,) that could affect Human Occupancy and Resource Use, refer to that biophysical component in Table 6-2.

If there is a predicted effect on visual or other aesthetic qualities, refer to the guidance under the Human Health element within this table.
Heritage Resources
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe any known heritage resources in the study area.
  2. Determine the potential for any undiscovered heritage resources in the study area.
  3. Describe what contingency plans and field measures would be undertaken should a heritage resource be discovered during construction.
  4. Provide copies of correspondence from provincial or territorial authorities responsible for heritage resources with comments respecting any heritage resource impact assessment and proposed mitigation measures.
  5. Provide a statement indicating whether the company will implement the recommendations of the provincial or territorial heritage resource authorities.
  6. If a previous heritage resource assessment has been completed in the study area, a summary should be filed along with any additional mitigation measures specific to the applied-for project.

Applicants must be aware of any federal, provincial or territorial legislation or guidelines for identifying and protecting heritage resources.

Applicants must consult with Aboriginal groups with concerns about heritage resources in the project area.

Although lands may be previously disturbed, an archaeological and paleontological assessment may still be required.

The heritage resources assessment must be completed by a qualified archaeologist or paleontologist and include details of the field methodology used in the study.

Where there is potential for discovery of heritage resources during construction or operations activities, a heritage resources contingency plan must be submitted. The plan must state at a minimum, who would be contacted and under what conditions work would stop and resume.
Traditional Land and Resource Use
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe how lands and resources in the study area are currently used by Aboriginal persons or groups for traditional purposes.
  2. Identify the Aboriginal persons or groups currently carrying out traditional land and resource use activities, the spatial and temporal extent of use, and how the project would impact on this use.
  3. Describe all reasonable alternatives to the project considered that would avoid the impact on the Aboriginal traditional land and resource use considered during project development.
  4. Describe all feasible measures that would be taken to mitigate the impact of the activity on Aboriginal traditional land and resource use.
  5. Describe the methodology used to collect the Aboriginal land and resource use information and provide a listing, and the rationale for the listing, of all Aboriginal persons and groups contacted.
  6. Demonstrate that those Aboriginal persons and groups participating in collecting traditional use information have had the opportunity to review the information and proposed mitigation. Include any comments from the Aboriginal participants on the information and proposed mitigation.
Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

An assessment of impacts on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal people is required for the ESA.

Aboriginal people may use lands for various traditional activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, berry picking, and plant gathering, for medicinal, cultural or household use, as well as cultural or spiritual ceremonies.

In assessing the temporal aspects of traditional land and resource use, note the frequency, duration and seasonal aspects of each activity. In assessing the spatial aspects of traditional land and resource use, note that some activities could be site specific (e.g., berry-picking areas) but others may not (e.g., hunting may extend over a broad area and temporal considerations may be more relevant).

Applicants must also refer to the assessment of the applicable biophysical element (wildlife and wildlife habitat, vegetation, and fish and fish habitat) when considering traditional land and resource use.

Where confidentiality of the traditional land and resource information is a concern, this information may be provided in the following manner:

  • a traditional land use study in which the information is provided using a system of data classification to protect the confidentiality of site-specific details;
  • a traditional land use study including the methodology and proposed mitigation; or
  • alternatively, applicants may ask permission to file the study confidentially, in accordance with the criteria set out in section 16.1 of the NEB Act.
Social and Cultural Well-Being
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe the socio-cultural setting of the study area, indicating the:
    • predominant cultural and Aboriginal groups;
    • demographic features of the local population and workforce; and
    • prevalent socio-cultural concerns of residents, families and workers in the study area.
  2. Provide an overview of the predicted  socio-cultural effects on the local community from the project.
  3. Describe the interactions of project construction, operations, and maintenance workforces with the local community, residents and businesses.
  4. Describe any mitigative measures to address identified effects.
  5. Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Socio-cultural effects on local communities may arise from various sources and may include:

  • an increase in temporary or permanent residents to an area;
  • location of construction camps within, beside or near local communities;
  • a significant increase to, or uneven distribution of, personal income at the community level; and
  • disruptions to cultural traditions and institutions.

The potential effects from the sources listed above may include:

  • stresses on community, family and household cohesion;
  • alcohol and substance abuse; or
  • illegal or other potentially disruptive activities.

The identification and evaluation of potential effects must:

  • be conducted at the community level rather than the individual level to protect the privacy of individuals; and
  • include consultation with local, regional and Aboriginal social and cultural service providers, agencies and institutions as appropriate.

The local community could include:

  • more than one inhabited area within the study area; and
more than one cultural group within an inhabited area.
Human Health
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe and quantify:
    • the project related activities, toxic components, nuisances and environmental changes that could potentially be sources of adverse human health effects; and
    • the potential human receptors of these effects.
  2. Where the project could create air, water or noise emissions or effluent discharge levels that meet local, provincial, territorial or federal guidelines (e.g., CCME Guidelines, ERCB Directive 038, AUC Rule 012), yet public concerns regarding human health effects have been raised, provide a description of the public concerns and how they would be addressed.
  3. Where the project could create health effects, summarize how these effects would be mitigated.
  4. Where it is reasonable to assume there could be a potentially high or significant risk to human health from the project, provide a human health risk assessment.
  5. Provide a description of any predicted visual or other aesthetic effects of the project on residents or other potentially affected persons or users in the study area.

Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

Applicants must consider the potential for effects to human health to determine the level of assessment required. For example, where the project may cause nuisance-related health concerns, applicants must summarize the effect, outline mitigation measures to minimize the effect, and give appropriate details of analytical procedures used (e.g., a source and release assessment, exposure assessment, dose-response assessment or risk characterization).

Identifying and evaluating potential human health effects must include consultation with local, regional, Aboriginal, provincial or territorial, and federal health service providers, agencies and institutions, as appropriate.

Applicants must consider the potential effects of the project on the health of susceptible groups such as:

  • local residents, landowners and tenants;
  • the elderly and children; and
  • others who may regularly use the study area such as recreationalists, hunters and trappers.

Applicants must also consider how the project may impact the health of those using traditional areas for hunting, trapping, fishing, berry picking, and medicinal plant collection. This consideration must be linked with the applicant’s assessment of traditional land and resource use.

As the definition of human health includes consideration of mental and social well-being, applicants must also consider any adverse emotional or social stressors potentially resulting from the project including:

  • concern for public safety from construction or operations-related accidents or malfunctions; or
  • disruption of normal, daily living activities.

Where a particular project emission or effluent discharge level falls below or within applicable limits, additional mitigation may not be required. However, where the change may be substantial, even if within set limits, due to local or regional circumstances or the extent of the change, the applicant must provide any other additional mitigation to minimize pollution and future human health risks.

A visual impact assessment must consider and describe factors such as, but not limited to:

  • how landforms, vegetation cover and other landscape features may or may not screen or visually absorb the project;
  • how the project will compare with other adjacent or nearby built features;
  • identification of view points and areas from which the project will be visible
  • identification of views affected by the project;
  • the depth of view to any project obstruction of views; and
  • the width of angle of vision obstructed by the project.

Where visual impacts are a concern the assessment should consider using methods such as photographic superimposition, mapping or GIS modelling of viewsheds.

Applicants must clearly link this portion of their assessment to those sections of their assessment that consider the biophysical elements affecting human health (e.g., Acoustic Environment or Water Quality and Quantity).
Consult Health Canada for information on human health impact assessments and to access The Canadian Handbook on Health Impact Assessment.

Health indicator data is available from Statistics Canada.
Infrastructure and Services
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe the existing local and regional infrastructure in the study area, including:
    • railways;
    • roads, highways and their traffic useage levels and patterns;
    • pipelines, water mains and sewage lines;
    • navigable waterways;
    • existing power lines; and
    • any other potentially affected facilities.
  2. Describe the existing local and regional services in the study and the predicted effects on those services. Include an assessment of effects to:
    • accommodation, including camping facilities;
    • recreation;
    • waste disposal;
    • police;
    • fire-fighting;
    • ambulance; and
    • health care services.
  3. Describe potential induction effects on other infrastructure operators. Where this could affect existing operations describe any authorizations required and consultations with potentially affected infrastructure operators and how any concerns raised will be addressed.
  4. Describe any need for government and applicant expenditures for new or expanded services or infrastructure, arising out of project-related effects
  5. Describe any mitigative measures, including applicable plans, to address identified effects.

Where residual effects have been predicted, identify whether those residual effects would be likely to act in combination with the effects of other physical facilities or activities and expand on the matters described above as appropriate.

The assessment must consider, and where possible quantify, how project construction and operation activities may affect local or regional infrastructure and services, such as:

  • housing;
  • educational facililties;
  • essential and emergency services (fire, police, ambulance, hospital) including the standard of service provided (e.g. response time);
  • recreational requirements;
  • transportation; and
  • utilities including water, sewer, waste disposal, electricity.

Effects related to the above-noted factors must be assessed from the perspectives of both:

  • the project’s needs for infrastructure and services (e.g., to meet workers’ needs for housing or transportation); and
  • the project’s effects on local infrastructure and services, and consequent effects on local residents (e.g. project effects on availability of housing for local residents or on traffic flows and delays to the local population)

Applicants must consider any local and provincial or territorial guidelines regarding emergency services or requirements for heavy load vehicles and construction access permits.

Navigation and Navigation Safety
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Provide a listing of navigable waterways that the proposed power line corridor will pass in, on, under, over, through or across and the proposed crossing methodology.
  2. Provide a listing of ancillary project components that will be constructed in, on, under, over, through, or across navigable waterways to support the power line project (e.g., temporary and permanent bridges).
  3. Provide a listing of potentially affected waterway users and describe consultation conducted with waterway users and Aboriginal groups regarding navigational use, issues raised, and how issues have been addressed.
  4. Describe project effects on navigation and navigation safety.
  5. Describe proposed mitigation measures to address project effects on navigation and navigation safety.

Where there are waterways which are considered navigable and there are project effects on navigation and navigation safety, Applicants must assess who navigates the affected waterways (e.g., tourism groups, guide outfitters, anglers, kayaking organizations), the type of craft, the ability to notify waterway users of impediments, the project effects / impacts on safe and reliable navigation, and identify mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate project effects on navigation and navigation safety.

Applicable codes such as CSA 22.3 Overhead Systems are to be adhered to.
Employment and Economy
Filing Requirements Guidance
  1. Describe the local and regional employment situation in the study area.
  2. Describe any local or regional training and employment development plans.
  3. Describe the ability of local and Aboriginal residents and businesses to provide labour services, equipment, supplies and other contracting needs during construction, operation and maintenance of the project.
  4. Describe plans to encourage local and Aboriginal employment, procurement and contracting opportunities.
  5. Describe any training programs the applicant is supporting to enhance employment opportunities for local and Aboriginal residents.
  6. Provide an estimate of the anticipated levels of local and regional economic participation in the project in comparison to the total project requirements (e.g., number of workers and total dollar value of contracts).
  7. If the project has the potential to directly affect local, regional, provincial, territorial or federal government revenues from tax levees or other means during construction and operation, provide a quantitative assessment of the potential impacts.

The assessment should include a quantitative and qualitative review of:

  • local and regional employment and unemployment levels;
  • education and skill levels;
  • local and regional economic conditions; and
  • direct government revenues expected to be generated by the project.

Construction and operations workforce numbers and contract values must be provided, where possible, on a month-to-month basis through the construction phase of the project and on a yearly basis for the operations phase of the project. For smaller projects, only an estimate of the construction workforce and the full-time operations workforce is required.

The assessment must describe those situations when the project may directly or indirectly create economic hardship or the displacement of workers or businesses, including any mitigative measures to address these effects.

If the applicant has prepared an economic benefits plan or has entered into specific cooperation agreements with communities or Aboriginal groups, the applicant should provide a summary of the employment, training and business commitments that were made.
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