The Role of Strategic Environmental Assessments in Improving the Governance of Emerging New Industries: A Case Study of Wind Developments in Nova Scotia

Meinhard Doelle, Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law
Rebecca Critchley, Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law


This article explores the potential for strategic environmental assessments to enhance project decisions in the wind energy sector in Nova Scotia. It does so by taking a retrospective look at wind energy project decisions in Nova Scotia in the past 15 years, decisions that have been made in the absence of a strategic environmental assessment. The study considers both individual project approvals and two contrasting municipal responses to the emergence of the industry. The aim of the retrospective is to identify the key challenges this new industry has faced in establishing itself in Nova Scotia. The article then considers, based on SEA literature and experience elsewhere, to what extent the challenges identified could have been avoided or reduced through the implementation of a strategic environmental assessment in the early stages of the emergence of this industry in Nova Scotia. The article concludes with some lessons for the design and implementation of strategic environmental assessments in light of the findings from the Nova Scotia case studies.