Government of New Brunswick

The Province of New Brunswick has a new Clean Air Act that governs air quality management and encourages public involvement in achieving the province's air quality goals. The Act is the government's legal authority for controlling the release of contaminants into the air, and for providing opportunities for the public to participate in decisions affecting the release of contaminants by Class 1 Approval holders. (The requirements for a Class 1 designation are set out in Regulation 97-133 of the Clean Air Act.) This will lead to a more informed public and to improved awareness and communication between the public, industry, and the Department of Environment, which is positive for the environment. The following outlines the roles and responsibilities of an industry that is applying to renew its Class 1 Air Quality Approval.


Section 1 - Providing Information

Before a Minister of the Environment can begin the process of renewing an Approval, he or she must have sufficient information to support the request for a renewed Approval. This includes information to support both an application for renewal and a facility profile. The facility should be in touch with the Department of Environment about this at least 240 days (eight months) before the existing Approval is set to expire.

Eventually, both the completed application to renew and the facility profile will be available to the public, either through our online Public Information Access Site , or from any Department office in the province, once the public comment period is underway.

Application for Renewal

The facility must submit a completed application form to the Department providing information about proposed changes to the facility's operation which may affect environmental control measures or emission levels, about compliance with the current Approval, and about any involvement the facility has had with the public since the last Approval was issued. Please note that if there are changes at any point during the renewal process that may affect environmental controls or emission levels, the facility must notify the Department of Environment immediately.

Facility Profile

The facility must submit information for the facility profile, which will be prepared by Department of Environment staff. The profile will likely include information about the facility's name, location and operation, a brief history highlighting any previous changes to operations, a summary of the conditions of the existing Approval, a summary of the facility's compliance history, and the name, telephone and email (if applicable) of a representative at the facility to answer questions from the public. The facility will be given an opportunity to review and confirm the accuracy of the information contained in the profile.

Please note: In the process of preparing the facility profile, we may require information from the facility, such as blueprints, that may be of a sensitive nature. While the Right to Information Act guarantees the public the right to request and receive information from the provincial government relating to its business, there are a number of circumstances when there is no right to information under the Act: such as when information is or could be involved in a court case; when it would reveal financial, commercial, technical or scientific information; when it would disclose access to or the security of buildings. Under these circumstances, information will not be released to the public. For more information, consult the Right to Information Act.

The application form and facility profile must be complete before the public comment period can begin. If we experience a significant delay in receiving this information, then the consultation process may be extended and the Minister may decide to issue an administrative penalty against the facility.


Section 2 - The Public Comment Period

The Minister will notify the public of an upcoming Approval renewal at least 180 days (six months) before the existing Approval expires through advertisements in the newspaper(s) serving the area closest to the facility, and through the bulletin board on our Web site. All notices and advertisements will carry information about the names, addresses and phone numbers of the facility contact and the Department of Environment contact to enable the public to reach the appropriate person with questions or comments. The notices will also inform the public of the beginning of the 120-day (four-month) public comment period and the deadline for comment. During this time the public will have a variety of sources of information available to them. A "register" of files maintained by the Department includes the information that the Clean Air Act requires the government to provide:

  • copies of applications and Approvals;
  • a record of all paid administrative penalties, Orders and convictions; and
  • a record of air quality Agreements made by the Minister.

Our Web site provides additional information that, while not required under the Act, will enhance public participation in the Approval process, such as:

  • access to any information in the register that is computerized;
  • profiles of Class 1 facilities currently undergoing an Approval renewal;
  • names of ENV and facility contacts for information on pending Approvals;
  • a glossary of technical words and phrases found in the Approvals or the Act;
  • a bibliography of the publications referred to in each Approval;
  • summaries of the Clean Air Act and its regulations; and
  • general information on air quality-related subjects.

Upon request, the Department of Environment will provide to the public one copy of any of the information in the register or Web site. While it is up to individual facilities to determine whether they will provide copies of information to the public, and if so, how many, we urge facilities to be as accommodating as is reasonable.

Role of the ENV Project Manager

In most cases the Project Manager will be the engineer responsible for setting and administering the conditions of an Approval and will be the facility's contact person at the Department of Environment.

  • The Project Manager is responsible for coordinating the activities of the project management team for the Approval.
    - Team members could be drawn from other relevant sections of the Department of Environment, such as engineering or sciences, communications, or regional staff.
    - Other professional resources may be called upon to join the team, where appropriate.
  • The Project Manager will also be responsible for fielding questions from the public about the Approval or the Department's approval process, for finding other appropriate staff members to answer questions, or referring questions about the facility's operation to the Facility Contact.

Role of the Facility Contact

When appropriate, we will re-direct questions from the public to the facility whenever those questions or comments refer to the operation of the facility or its equipment, processes and practices. We ask that the facility designate someone who can answer these questions and take comments from the public, and who can serve as a liaison between the public and the facility. We believe this activity is important for both parties and avoids a situation in which the Department of Environment is perceived as being a spokesperson for the facility. Please note that while the public or the facility are not required to send copies of questions and responses to the Department of Environment, any that are forwarded to the Department may become part of the interim and final summaries of issues and responses, which will be made public at the mid-point and conclusion of the public comment period. Because of the Clean Air Act's emphasis on involving the public, answering questions from the public in a timely fashion is a key activity. We urge facilities to be proactive if there are many questions or issues being raised, or if there are questions related to a specific subject area. It may be more effective for the facility to address these questions collectively by organizing a public event than to handle them on an individual basis.

  • Community outreach events or activities should be tailored to the volume and nature of questions and to differing individual comfort levels. Some options include open houses, facility tours, or face-to-face meetings.
  • Community outreach activities need not be tied to the renewal of an Approval; companies may wish to make public events a regular feature of their operations, independent of the Approval renewal.
  • These events are not a required part of the Approval process, but can be initiated by either the Department of Environment or the facility if they are felt to be the most effective means of addressing the issues.

In Your Best Interest

The Minister is not responsible for ensuring that comments and questions from the public are addressed by the facility; however, if the Minister feels that questions are not being responded to by the facility in a reasonable manner, the Minister may request that the facility do so. The Minister may also ask facilities to participate in a public event. Clearly it is in the best interest of all parties to maintain a positive dialogue throughout the renewal process and in general.

Interim Summary and Draft Approval

Half-way through the public comment period, the Department of Environment issues an interim summary of the issues and responses and a Draft Approval.

  • The facility will have an opportunity to review the Draft Approval before it is released to ensure the accuracy of technical information.
  • The interim summary will include relevant issues identified by the public and, where applicable, by Department officials as well as the facility.
  • The interim summary will reflect all relevant public comment received by the Department of Environment, but individuals will not be identified.
  • Whenever appropriate, responses in the summary will refer to conditions in the Draft Approval so that the public will see how the facility must address various concerns.

Section 3 - Conclusion of Public Comment Period and Intended Approval

The public may comment on the interim summary and Draft Approval until the conclusion of the 120-day public comment period. During this time we prepare our final summary of issues and responses and the Intended Approval. Once again, the facility will have an opportunity to review the Intended Approval with respect to the technical accuracy of the information describing processes and equipment, before the summary is made available publicly.

  • A news release will announce the availability of the final summary, the Minister's decision, and the Intended Approval. The Minister's decision will be based upon comments from the public and others as well as advice from appropriate Department staff.
    -  If the Minister is satisfied that all requirements have been met, the renewal of the Approval is announced and the new Approval becomes effective on the expiry date of the old Approval.
    - If the Minister is not confident that relevant issues have been addressed, or that there are other significant considerations, the review process and existing Approval may be extended for up to six months until a decision can be made.

For additional copies of this publication, or the companion fact sheet "How to Get Involved in the Process for Renewing Class 1 Air Quality Approvals", or for general information about the public participation process, please contact your nearest regional office of the NB Department of Environment. For technical information about Approvals, please contact the Department's Industrial Approvals Section at (506) 444-4599.