The Manitoba government plans to amend its Planning Act to allow itself to set up a process by which it will review applications for large-scale livestock production.
The province has set up an approval path for large-scale livestock operations in which a producer’s municipality would retain authority over land-use issues, but the environmental approval rests with the province.
But the Planning Act amendments announced Tuesday “will enable the government to create a more comprehensive, transparent and inclusive process for the technical review committee (TRC) when reviewing applications for new or expanded livestock operations involving 300 or more animal units,” Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux said.
Regulations are needed to authorize the provincial TRC to get and share additional information from an applicant, and from the public, on any proposed livestock operation, as well as to set out the process to be followed by the TRC in reviewing an application, he said.
The new review process would require a “comprehensive” site assessment for all livestock operations involving 300 or more animal units, as well as opportunity for the public and government departments to review and comment on the site assessment.
The amendments would also require the TRC to produce a summary report addressing comments raised in the government and the public review.
Local input would have to be allowed before a municipal council can proceed with a conditional-use hearing for such a proposal.
“The process requires applicants to submit a detailed site assessment that is placed on a public registry for comment on the proposal,” said Lemieux.
The amendments, he said, stem from the recommendations of the provincial Clean Environment Commission’s 2008 report on environmental sustainability and hog production in Manitoba.
Since the CEC report’s release, the province has put a permanent ban on expansion of hog farming in areas near Lake Winnipeg and the Red River, including much of Lemieux’s southeastern riding of La Verendrye.
The province has also introduced new buffer zones to protect water from phosphorus application, and offered farmers incentives to protect wetlands and riparian areas.
The provincial government late last year also announced plans for a complete ban on winter spreading of manure on farms in Manitoba by 2013, and for a “minimum capacity” requirement for on-farm manure storage.