The Alberta Government has now published the final Lower Athabasca regional plan.
The plan would protect from development 2 million hectares of land in Northeastern Alberta, out of a total of approximately 93,212 square kilometers in the region.
We previously reported on the draft Lower Athabasca regional plan published by the government in 2011. The final plan is based on that plan and followed extensive consultation with stakeholders.
22% of the land within the Lower Athabasca region will now be protected, up from the 6% currently protected in the region.
Conventional oil and gas development on existing tenures will be allowed in the protected areas, but no new tenures will be granted in those areas.
The government has also committed to developing enforceable limites on air, surface water and groundwater contamination.
Oil sands development will not be permitted in the protected areas. This will result in the cancellation of 19 leases that have already been granted for oil sands development. It is estimated that producers paid the government a total of $29 million for the leases to be cancelled; the amount of compensation which will have to be paid by the government is as yet undetermined.
The plan will come into effect on Septermber 1.
For further information on the Lower Athabasca regional plan, see here.