BELFAST – In an April 7 news release, the Norwegian-owned company Nordic Aquafarms said that it has asked the Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection to pause its permit deadlines.
“This pause will allow the courts to fully adjudicate the issues raised by project opponents without allowing the delay caused by the endless litigation to run the clock on the permits. Nordic remains committed to providing a locally grown, sustainably produced source of healthy protein in this community,” said Nordic Aquafarms CEO Brenda Chandler, in the release.
The $500 million indoor fish farm will create 37.9 acres of developed area at full buildout, of which 27.4 acres will be impervious area, according to project documents issued by the DEP. Nordic Aquafarms has received DEP permits under the Natural Resources Protection Act, Site Location Development Protection Act, Freshwater Wetlands Alteration, Coastal Wetlands Alteration, Stream Alteration, Significant Wildlife Habitat, Water Quality Certification, Air Emissions License and Maine Pollutants Elimination Systems Permit and Wastewater Permit.
The permits carry varying term limits.
In November 2020, the DEP approved Nordic’s project, as proposed.
“Nordic seeks suspension of the DEP permits to allow for final court decisions on the property issues raised by project opponents contesting the City of Belfast’s exercise of eminent domain,” the release said.
The Friends of Harriet L. Hartley, opponents of the salmon facility, issued an April 7 statement following Nordic Aquafarm’s release. “The Friends of Harriet L. Hartley is confident that the conservation easement from Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace will be upheld; that the restrictions running with the 12.5-acre parcel inside Nordic's proposed plant site will be confirmed; and that Belfast's attempt to take Jeffrey and Judith's intertidal lands will be shown to be an unfortunate misuse of the city's eminent domain power.”
The group added: “We support an immediate decision by DEP Commissioner [Melanie] Loyzim to suspend Nordic's existing permits while the Department considers the Upstream Watch request to revoke those permits.”
Nordic Aquafarms moved onto the project site at 285 Northport Avenue, the former Belfast Water District office. The Belfast Water District office is now at 41 Wight Street. Nordic continues its open-door policy and welcomes all who are interested in learning about the project, it said.