Introduction to Agricultural Environmental Law

Environmental law and land-use planning law are complicated areas that cover a myriad of requirements issued by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. As owner/operators of enterprises that use large tracts of land and interface with the environment on a daily basis, farmers find themselves in the throws of these complicated requirements. Although there are occasions where direct legal advice and communication with a lawyer is essential, there are situations where general information is all the farmer requires.

The Q & A on Environmental Law (formerly, A Resource for Farm Businesses: Concise Answers to Legal Questions on Environment and Land Use) was originally released in May 2002 with the principal goal of providing a resource to allow farm managers to make basic decisions with respect to regulatory issues prior to seeking legal advice.

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA) canvassed its membership for questions and areas of interest to be addressed and a lawyer was hired to draft answers to the questions and provide reference material. The first version included 17 questions and answers on topics ranging from requirements for culvert installations to trespass by off-highway vehicles. The Q & A was made available on the NSFA website. The on-line version of the Q & A was updated in 2003 and 2006.

The current version of the Q & A on Environmental Law (2010) updates all of the original questions and answers and includes the addition of 13 new questions and answers. The current version also significantly expands the reference section of the document, including relevant websites.

The Q & A on Environmental Law (2010) is divided into five parts:

Part 1 Water and Wetlands
Part 2 Pollution
Part 3 Neighbors
Part 4 Land-use Planning
Part 5 Enforcement/Inspections & Investigations

Given the changing nature of environmental statutes and regulations the Q & A on Environmental Law (2010) is a living document and will require regular updates to remain current. The answers provided are generic and do not eliminate the need to seek legal advice for specific matters, particularly those that may lead to a prosecution or lawsuit. Ultimately, the Q & A is a support tool for farmers trying to understand how environmental law applies to their activities in an effort to demonstrate due diligence and avoid adverse effects to the environment.