Lafarge denied: Ontario court will not hear cement company's appeal in alternative fuel burning case
(November 27, 2008) TORONTO - The Ontario Court of Appeal will not hear an appeal from Lafarge Canada Inc about its alternative fuels application, it said in a decision released on Wednesday, November 26, 2008. The Court's decision may mean an end to the cement giant's lengthy legal campaign to halt an independent review of its proposal to burn "alternative fuels" in its cement kiln near Bath, Ontario.
"Our right to question this proposal has been upheld, again. And even though an open and transparent public hearing is still what we Ontarians deserve, the precedent set here is a huge achievement and reason to rejoice. This is a great day for Bath, for all communities, up and down the Lake and across the Province. We have a seat at the table when the discussion between Industry and Government turns to 'Acceptable Levels of Pollution'. Our knowledge and expertise, our perspective count," says Gord Downie, co-applicant and Trustee for Lake Ontario.
The cement giant received approvals to burn tires, bone meal, plastics, and other waste from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in December, 2006. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Clean Air Bath, and the Loyalist Environmental Coalition appealed the licences to the independent Environmental Review Tribunal. Our groups expressed concerns about impacts on air and water quality, fish populations and fish habitat, as well as human health.
When the Environmental Review Tribunal agreed to hear the case, Lafarge and the Ministry of the Environment challenged the Tribunal's decision in Divisional Court. Lafarge and the Ministry lost the judicial review, and Lafarge filed the leave-to-appeal application.
"We can all breathe a little easier," says Waterkeeper and environmental lawyer Mark Mattson. "The courts have made it clear that the Ministry of the Environment must put more effort into reviewing licences to pollute. This means more respect for public input and better consideration for the ecosystem."
The Court's decision means Lafarge must face the Tribunal, appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, or abandon the project. Earlier statements to the Tribunal by Lafarge's counsel indicate that the company would cancel the project rather than subject its proposal to the scrutiny of an independent tribunal.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper & Trustee Gord Downie were represented by Rick Lindgren of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Also involved in the case were lawyers Joseph Castrilli, representing The Tragically Hip, and Hugh Wilkins and Marlene Cashin of Ecojustice, representing Loyalist Environmental Coalition.
For more information or to schedule and interview, please contact Lake Ontario Waterkeeper at 416-861-1237
Read the Ecojustice Press Release here